E-commerce should be viewed more as a value chain, than a supply chain, says Mariano Vainstein.
Over the last two decades, e-commerce has become an increasingly important sales channel. As society has become more connected and Internet usage has grown, being able to sell and solicit business online has proven tremendously successful for those businesses that have been able to leverage the power of data, metrics and convenience.
Yet in the automotive aftermarket, despite the tools available, there are still huge amounts of money being left on the table as it relates to online retailing and that’s often due to poor and inconsistent quality in terms of both content and messaging.
Quality, KPIs, feedback
As part of this year’s ACPN Knowledge Exchange Conference, Mariano Vainstein, Regional Director, Auto Parts and Agro for Mecardo Libre, provided an overview on how to create quality content in your online marketplace, how to effectively get feedback from it and how to leverage KPIs to continually improve your content and the way in which it is delivered.
Mecardo Libre, founded in Argentina, has grown to become a juggernaut in the Latin American e-commerce space and Vainstein presented some interesting findings, particularly since Mecardo Libre operates in different countries.
One of the biggest challenges, when you are dealing with multiple individual markets like those in Latin America, is having a standard when it comes to cataloguing information and providing photos and content across the supply chain.
Vainstein said that when it comes to auto parts, understanding how the physical retail process operates at the brick and mortar level is key to creating a successful e-commerce model. Therefore, factors such as product supply, the efficiency of delivery, customer experience, convenience and support are all critical.
Shift in mindset
Vainstein noted that it’s important to understand that as far as aftermarket parts distribution goes, there needs to be a shift in mindset from “supply chain,” and towards “value chain,” i.e., how businesses can provide value to their customers, notably aftermarket service providers.
Yet doing this effectively requires the creating and implementation of standardized processes, including how the content is generated, how it is distributed and that each entity involved within the supply chain is able to receive and deliver a consistent standard in terms of content, visuals and service.
As Vainstein said, “if you want to go fast, go it alone, if you want to go far, you must go with standards.”
He believes that the only way to really move forward is via standards. In the case of Mecardo Libre, in order to address some of the underlying issues of lack of common standards between markets and individual organizations, several initiatives have been introduced. The first has been creating a new scorecard, as well as digital certification and digital-specific content.
By focusing on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as market share, conversion rate, orders per visit as well as others such as same-day shipping, response time, free shipping and image quality, businesses can significantly improve their ranking and online customer experience.
Training and support
To help, Vainstein said having training and support from a platform such as Mercado Libre can be a huge asset for businesses looking to expand and increase their online presence.
The key to making it work successfully, however, is to ensure good, solid communication between sellers and buyers. This means taking steps to make sure the right information is presented, such as the make, model, year and product fitment.
Doing so enables the seller to ensure they are marketing the right product, to the right audience and that the buyer gets exactly what they’re looking for.
In the case of regions such as Latin America, Vainstein again stressed that a benchmark standard for each country and each market, that relies on the same tools and processes, is essential, with an incentive program tailored to each country.
Additionally, by investing in and supporting content managers to create good quality content, it can be shared with sales and marketing divisions and also through different distribution channels, such as automotive service providers; technicians and end consumers.
Doing so, allows for scaling of the e-commerce business and enabling many traditional auto parts businesses to fully embrace and take advantage of the opportunities now available in the digital marketplace.
Ultimately, whether offline or online, Vainstein said the same rules to being successful apply: Understand who your customer is and how you can provide the best possible value and service for them.