We all know that the Internet is where you can make the most money for a dealership. But most people at the dealership think that it’s all about selling cars online. Well in some cases that can be true, but just like at the brick and mortar, an online parts dept can rein supreme.

As I mentioned in my blog last week, most automotive website providers can supply dealerships with the ability to process orders online for your parts dept. If your website does not currently have this ability, contact your provider and ask if they have a solution or can recommend one.

From the Corporate website management point of view, I have seen dealerships attempt to sell parts online and it failed horribly. Mainly, because they did not fully invest in the idea and only dabbled with it since it was suggested by the corporate office.

The old saying of “nothing worth while comes easy” is true in the case of putting your parts dept online. I say this because to get the most effective results requires a dedicated phone line, a digital camera to take photos and add to the parts site, and a person to answer and phone calls and handle sales. In a lot of cases you will get a customer knowing exactly what they want. But quite a few don’t and will need some guidance to find what they are looking for. Your website showing the pictures with a small description goes a long way. If they can see the part and you have a pretty decent description listed, a customer can tell quickly if that’s what they are looking for. It can start as a one person position but done correctly, it will quickly turn into a team needed effort. There will need to be a good description of the part, with part numbers, a photo or two, prices, availability status, and the contact phone numbers that ring directly to the parts dept, do not ring to the switch board. Also if you can, have a shopping cart check out ability on the site with shipping options available. Just like anything else about your dealership you have to advertise it here and there… people will come if you let them know you have a site.

To get it right you will need someone to take photos of the parts and products because your customer will want to see what they are looking for. Not only photos of some of the current stock like engine and transmission, break parts, oil filters, and hoses you have available but satellite TV and Radio devices and services, bush grills and mud guards, window tinting services, fabric cleaning services and products, engine cleaning tools and supplies, floor mats and everything else your dealership has to sell. List old stock items, new items, any specialty items and everything else you have behind the counter.

People from across the country will buy directly from you because you have it available for them to purchase. This will improve your website SEO when your parts are found in search engines and they lead people to your site. People will go out of there way to save a dime and there are millions like me that shop online simply for the convenience.

Before I end, here is a short story of how a dealerships online parts dept can explode. I went on a search for an update to the Navigation DVD in my vehicle. I checked with an aftermarket parts store and they let me know it is a manufacturer only item. I would have to go thru a dealership to get it. Went home and looked it up on my local dealership… and nope… No parts online. So I called up the dealership and found out its going to cost me full labor + parts just to swap out the old and new DVD in the trunk of my vehicle. Asking if they could sell me the DVD alone so I could do it myself…. the guy goes into his salesman speech and said wellllll we would have to install the item blah blah blah….Honestly, after he mentioned it needed to be installed by them and I heard how much it would cost, I tuned everything else out and I decided to find it online and do it myself.

Since I like saving a buck here and there and I knew it can’t be too hard to change a DVD out. I began my Internet search. After about 30 minutes of searching various dealerships sites and blogs I went to eBay. Seeing outrageous prices for old and new navigation DVDs, I tried another auction site, and then another website hoping maybe someone had the item listed for a reasonable price. Then I turned to the search engines. I searched Google with the part number I got from seeing the item on eBay or one of the other places I had visited and found one dealership on the other side of the country that had the DVD listed for sale. They had all the information about the DVD, with a picture and they even provided instructions on how to change it out. Needless to say- immediate purchase!! I was so happy that I went back to one of the blog sites where everyone was discussing where to get updated DVD without having to pay for installation by the dealership and pasted a link to the dealership. The same day the DVD arrived in the mail; I went back to the site and purchased a set of manufacturer floor mats they had listed too. I also informed a friend about the site who had a vehicle by the same manufacturer and he started ordering various items off the site. Word of mouth as you know is the best advertising and done right your dealership too can become extremely successful on the web selling parts.