Thursday, January 31, 2013

Digital Accessories Customers

Hardly a blog goes by where we don’t reference Digital Service Customers or “DSCs”; we coined this term a couple of years ago when investigating how service customers use the internet.

But what about accessories customers? SEMA’s 2012 Segmentation Study highlighted heavy use of web-based research among these folks:

So what do Digital Accessories Customers (the acronym, of course, is “DACs”) mean for OEMs? Let’s consider the implications of each of the four types of online sources used by DACs:

Internet Searches (53%)

Internet searches are the most common way DACs look for information, and therefore represent the best way for OEMs to “capture” potential buyers and funnel them to brand sites.

OK, so what do DACs find when they go to Google?

We tried some unbranded search terms (i.e., “Truck Bed Extender”) first. In most cases, the OEM-centric result is two or even three pages deep. Hmm, when was the last time you clicked through two pages of Google results? This is no man’s land! OEMs fare slightly better in branded searches (i.e., “Ford Taurus Floor Mats”), but are still beat out by aftermarket competitors and even eBay in a few cases. Yikes.

Manufacturer’s Website or Catalog (30%) and Chain Parts Stores Websites (23%)

Well, DACs may not be coming to OEM pages via search engine results, but if and when they make their way to your websites, you need to do two things well. First, “connect” with customers – make them want to buy your accessories. Then “close” the sale by facilitating online ordering. One of the best ways to “connect” with consumers is through build-your-own functionality. Today’s consumers are accustomed to customizing everything online, whether it be a new pair of Nikes or the perfect engagement ring. Why should accessories be any different? Let customers digitally accessorize their vehicle, and by doing so, harness the excitement of product ownership. Aftermarket companies like Vogue Tyre do this well:

After deciding to purchase something, consumers expect a seamless checkout process to close the deal. Instant gratification is the name of the game. Here, companies like AutoZone are the benchmark, with easy product look-up, real time availability and pricing, and the option to pick-up in-store or have the product delivered. In general, OEMs lag the aftermarket in e-commerce functionality; their job is inherently more difficult as they have to facilitate the transaction between the end-customer and the dealer.

Auto Enthusiast Websites/Forums (21%)

This resource is still maturing, but represents a potential threat. Go online and check out some of the enthusiast forums; the dialogue often favors the aftermarket, particularly in discussions about performance parts. Forum contributors and moderators extol the style and performance of aftermarket parts, skewing readers’ perception of the term “aftermarket” in a broader parts & accessories context.

Bottom Line: Revisit your online presence for accessories – now. OEMs are already playing catch-up, and tomorrow, an even greater percentage of consumers will be DACs.

To Dos:
  • Invest in search engine optimization and marketing (SEO & SEM) for accessory-related searches. You need to be on the first page for unbranded searches, and at the very top of the page for branded searches.
  • Assess your “connect” and “close” capabilities for accessories. How does your site’s build-your-own functionality compare to those in the aftermarket? Your e-commerce capabilities?
  • Join the dialogue on enthusiast websites, which, right now, is relatively one-sided. As the OEM, you have the credibility and the unmatched product knowledge to combat misconceptions and redirect the conversation.

No comments: