Amazon’s part picker revs up competition in the auto sector

is to eliminate the stress and confusion of finding the right parts.

“We’re always trying to make our customers’ lives more convenient through a range of products and services,” Amazon Australia’s head of automotive, Ian Bradley, told Inside Retail

“We know Aussies love taking to the open road and exploring the great outdoors. Road trips are a big part of the Australian way of life, and [we’re] making them easier for our customers.”

Amazon first launched automotive parts on its marketplace in 2018.

Research commissioned by Amazon found that 43 per cent of Australians are looking to travel throughout the winter, with 31 per cent likely to travel by road, compared with 12 per cent planning on flying. However, the research also found that almost a quarter of people don’t do car maintenance themselves, and 44 per cent take their vehicle to a garage or mechanic for even basic maintenance.

“Aussies hold back on doing their own basic maintenance because they don’t know what parts fit their car, and 15 per cent don’t know where to look for parts,” Bradley said. “We’re confident [Automotive Parts Finder] will help Aussies feel more comfortable finding the right parts for their vehicles.”

Keeping players on their toes

Amazon’s offer is strictly online and competes directly with automotive retailers such as Supercheap Auto and Repco, which have lifted their online experience during the pandemic while also maintaining a bricks-and-mortar presence.

Queensland University of Technology Professor Gary Mortimer believes this could be to Amazon’s advantage.

“One of the biggest challenges for incumbent retailers in categories that are qualitatively the same is that they are exposed to online,” Mortimer told Inside Retail

“Pure-play operators have lower costs, and when you think about picking up an oil filter for a Commodore, or a fan belt for a Toyota, as long as you know the part number, they’re easily accessible [online].

“I think having another player in that market that is specifically focusing on [easy purchases] will keep incumbent retailers on their toes when it comes to price and service.”

For the average consumer, Mortimer said, Amazon’s offer will be attractive because it will pair with Prime delivery, and will enable them to get various car accessories, like seats covers or polish, delivered to their homes easily and quickly.

Where Amazon loses the advantage, Mortimer noted, is that it doesn’t have the same pedigree of expertise in the market, and doesn’t have floor staff that can be approached with questions – nor can it install the parts for you.

In contrast, customers can take their vehicle into any Supercheap Auto, for example, and have a new battery, wipers, or light bulbs installed, as well as get oil changes, or recharges for an electric vehicle. 

“It’s easy enough to get parts delivered to you, but the challenge is often installation,” Mortimer said. 

“What if you want to purchase a non-genuine part for a car, and want it fitted? You’re going to want to speak to an expert, and understand whether it will damage your vehicle or have an impact on your warranty.”

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