Find the Best Way to Sell Auto Parts Online: Start Selling Today!
Did you know that by 2022, online sales of auto parts are expected to hit $19 billion in the US? Sure, in the old days, you’d have pulled up to the local mechanic shop for a new car part – but the future of selling auto parts is very much online.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store already, or you’re setting up a totally new business, you can sell car parts online without the need for tech skills or a huge cash investment. We’ll help show you the best way to sell your auto parts online – just follow our seven simple steps!
How to Sell Car Parts Online: 7 Steps
- Choose your products
- Source your products
- Pick your sales channels
- Showcase your car parts
- Price your products
- Set your shipping strategies
- Promote your car parts online
There are plenty of ways to sell car parts online – but you need to find the best way for you. We’ll steer you in the right direction, so start your engines and let’s speed into step one!
Choosing your products is a vital first step to setting up a successful business, and it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Identify Your Niche
But I already know what I’m selling – car parts! That’s why I clicked on this article? Duh…
This is a fair enough reaction, but to sell car parts and make a long-term, profitable business out of it, you need a niche. Having a niche lets you focus on a specific market – for example, you might focus on a particular make or model, or only sell a certain car part (like lights or filters).
Choosing a niche helps to:
- Reduce the amount of competition you face
- Target a specific customer base
- Narrow down your product search
When choosing a niche, think about any areas of interest, knowledge, or passion you might have. Think about any gaps in the market that you could fill, and use tools like SEMrush to carry out keyword research to find out what people are searching for online.
Who Are You Selling To?
Another important aspect of choosing your products is considering who you’ll be selling to. Your target audience has a huge impact on how you set up and run your business, affecting everything from branding to marketing choices.
Will you be selling to individuals who just want a new part for their personal vehicle? Or will you be selling to mechanics who want to buy in bulk, so that they can sell your products on to their own customers?
The first option, where you sell directly to the end customer, is called B2C (Business to Customer), whereas the second option, where you sell to other businesses, is called B2B (Business to Business).
Both come with their own pros and cons. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide which suits you better:
| B2C || General public |
| Charge retail price |
Shorter decision process
Larger customer base
| Less repeat custom |
High brand investment
| B2B || Local garages |
| Stability and regular sales |
Large order quantities
| Longer sales cycle |
If you choose B2C, you’ll need to invest in good marketing and branding. This is because customers tend to make emotional purchasing decisions based on things like web design, product photos, and brand familiarity.
In contrast, B2B relies more on you having an in-depth knowledge of your products, and the ability to win the trust of other businesses. It tends to take a lot longer to secure a sale because there are more stakeholders involved, and your customer is making a bigger commitment by choosing you as their car part provider.
Which Products Are Hot?
Okay, so you’ve thought about your niche and your target audience, but what about the actual products?
A great way to find popular products is to head to Amazon’s automotive bestseller lists. There, you can see which products are most popular across different categories, such as:
- Car care
- Exterior accessories
- Interior accessories
- Oils and fluids
- Performance parts and accessories
- Replacement parts
Amazon isn’t the only place that can give you insight into popular products. Here’s a quick rundown of best selling car parts across both Amazon and eBay:
| Exterior Accessories || Tarp covers |
License plate frames
| Grilles |
| Interior accessories || Windshield sun shades |
Car trash cans
Rubber floor mats
| Floor mats |
| Replacement parts || Cabin filters |
Windshield wiper blades
Headlight restoration systems
| Replacement emblems |
A/C control systems
Shocks and struts
| Lights and lighting accessories || Interior car lights |
License plate bulbs
| Headlights and tail lights |
- Identified your niche
- Thought about your target customers
- Carried out product research
- Chosen your products
Next, you need to ask the question: where am I going to get my car parts from? You have a few options, which we’ll go through in just a second.
But first, it’s worth saying that however you decide to source your car parts, it’s vital to ensure they’re authentic, reliable, and high quality. The success of your business depends on your customers trusting you and your products. Don’t fall into the sketchy car salesman stereotype!
#1. Source From a Wholesaler
A wholesaler is a company that sells products in large batches to retailers, usually for a reduced price. This means you can bulk buy, then charge a higher retail price when selling to your customers to make a profit.
This makes most sense if you’re selling directly to individual customers, rather than other businesses.
Some wholesalers even offer dropshipping services. This is where you place your customers’ orders with the supplier, and they then process, package, and send the products directly to the customer.
This dropshipping business model is ideal if you’re just starting out and don’t have space to store large inventories, or money to hire a warehouse.
Find out more
- Looking for more information on dropshipping? Discover How to Start a Dropshipping Business in our helpful guide.
#2. Source Direct From the Manufacturer
One of the best ways to ensure high quality is to source your car parts directly from the manufacturer. This method is particularly effective if you’re focussing on a certain car type, as some car companies favor different manufacturers – making them the go to for parts!
Buying straight from the manufacturer also cuts out the middleman – i.e. the wholesaler – meaning that you may find lower prices, since the wholesaler hasn’t added a markup.
The manufacturer is going to be more knowledgeable about their products, which you can use to your advantage. You also put yourself in a good position to assure customers that the parts you’re selling are reliable and authentic.
#3. Source Car Parts Yourself
Maybe you’re in a position where you can source car parts yourself. Whether you’ve been collecting parts for years, or have a yard full of unwanted cars, sourcing your own parts is a great way to cut costs.
However, there’s more room for poor quality products to slip into your inventory with this method, so be careful. Our top tip here is to be honest. If you’ve gone rummaging through your local scrapyard, make this very clear on your storefront, price your products accordingly, and always make sure the parts you sell are in good working order.
This method works best if you’re dealing more in collectible car parts or older models, rather than mainstream, modern replacement parts.
- Explored different sourcing options
- Decided which method suits you best
- Started sourcing products using your chosen method
You know what you’re selling, and who you’re getting your products from – but where are you going to sell your car parts? There are plenty of places to sell car parts online, but we’re going to walk you through the main three.
Love it or hate it, Amazon still rules the ecommerce roost, and is many people’s first stop when shopping or selling online. It’s used by over 197 million people worldwide every month!
So, is selling car parts on Amazon right for you? You need to be on the Professional selling plan to sell auto parts, which costs $39.99 per month. You’ll also pay referral fees, which vary depending on the category of your products.
Automotive & Powersports products get charged a 12% referral fee, apart from tires and wheel products, which get charged 10%. The minimum referral fee on any auto parts is $0.30.
The Individual seller plan doesn’t have a monthly subscription, but you can’t use this to sell car parts. This is because automotives is a restricted category, so if you want to sell car parts on Amazon, you need the Professional plan for $39.99 per month (plus seller fees).
There are few things to know before signing up to Amazon’s Professional seller plan:
- You can’t sell used car parts on Amazon. Period.
- You can’t sell safety parts, such as airbags or seat belts.
- You can’t sell used tires.
- To sell new tires, there’s a Compliance Checklist for Tires that you need to meet.
- New and refurbished auto products must come with warranty from the manufacturer or remanufacturer.
- Some restrictions depend on the state – for example, in California, your products need to be compliant with California Air Resources Board requirements.
Because Automotive & Powersports is a restricted category, Amazon has these rules in place to protect its customers. Still, as long as you meet its requirements, you’ll be rewarded with a huge customer base.
There are around 90 million live auto parts listings on eBay, and a wheel or tire part is sold every 6 seconds. eBay is a popular choice for selling and buying auto parts, and it’s no wonder – eBay actually has a dedicated platform for selling auto parts, called eBay Motors.
When you create your listings, eBay makes it easy to add the years, makes, models, trims, and engines that your part fits – up to 3,000 combinations! This makes it easier for shoppers to filter their searches and find your product.
One big difference between eBay and Amazon is that you can sell used car parts through eBay, which is a big factor to think about depending on your product type!
Another big difference is that eBay doesn’t charge subscriptions. There are selling fees, though. You have to pay an insertion fee of $0.35 per listing, per category, but you get 50 free listings per month, which helps to keep costs down.
eBay also charges a final value fee, which is usually 10% of the total sale. If your auto product comes under the heavy goods category, it’s only 2%.
eBay is a worthy alternative sales channel to Amazon, and may suit your needs better – especially if you’re selling used or collectible car parts!
#3. Your Own Ecommerce Website
The trouble with both Amazon and eBay is that your products are displayed shoulder to shoulder with all sorts of competition.
What if you want to really show off your car parts, create your own brand, and control your own marketing? If you want those things, you need to build your own online store!
With an ecommerce website, you have full control of your branding, inventory, and even how well your products rank in Google.
You can easily create your own ecommerce website with a good ecommerce builder. Popular choices include BigCommerce, Wix, and Squarespace, but from our in-depth testing, we can recommend Shopify as the best of the bunch.
With a builder like Shopify, you simply choose a design you love, upload your products, customize your store, and hit publish – you don’t need any tech skills, but it will take a little longer to set up than an Amazon or eBay listing.
Shopify costs $29.99 per month, which is the average starting price for a good quality ecommerce builder – making it more pricey than eBay, but more affordable than Amazon.
Find out more
#4. The Bonus Option: All Three!
The great thing about ecommerce builders like Shopify is that they’re designed to help people create successful online stores, and have features to help you grow. This includes multichannel integration – in short, you can integrate your own online store with both Amazon and eBay!
Multichannel integration means you can have products listed across all three of these sales channels, maximizing your chances of getting your products in front of customers.
- Explored all three of these sales channels thoroughly
- Decided which one best suits your needs
- Set up an account with your chosen sales channel(s)
By now, you’re ready to upload your products. No matter which sales channel you’ve chosen, you’ll need at least two things to sell your car parts: high quality photos and persuasive product descriptions.
Take High Quality Photos
Did you know that 75% of shoppers rely on product photos when deciding whether to make a purchase?
Avoid dark, blurry, or cluttered photos. You should also avoid using the flash, or adding any filters to your images. Instead, here are some quick tips to take good product photos to win over your customers:
- Use plenty of light
- Use a good quality camera (your phone camera is fine!)
- Take photos from multiple angles
- Try to show the scale and size of the product
- Take some up-close photos to show off details
Remember that these photos are the only way for customers to see the product before buying, so your photos need to give a full picture of the product. Try showing the photos to a friend who isn’t so familiar with your products to see what feedback they have!
Write Informative Product Descriptions
Product photos show what the product looks like. But what about the things you can’t see? When you write your product descriptions, there are some key tips you should follow to persuade customers to click buy:
- Focus on benefits, rather than features
- Give factual, helpful information (such as the size, make, or model)
- Keep it short and scannable – use bullet points!
- Be specific and confident
- Answer questions, such as product history, care, instructions, and so on
Product descriptions are vital for completing the customer’s image of the product. In real life, customers can kick the tires themselves – online, your description needs to kick the tires for them instead!
You need to be descriptive, informative, and accurate – a huge 50% of shoppers have returned items because they didn’t match the product description!
- Taken high quality, professional product photos
- Written informative product descriptions
Pricing is something that will vary hugely depending on your products, your audience, your reputation, and even where you sell. We can’t tell you how much to charge for your products, but we can steer you in the right direction.
#1. What Are Your Competitors Charging?
Carry out competitor research to see what other auto part sellers are charging for products similar to yours. Ask yourself why they’re asking for these prices, and how your products compare.
Can you price your products in a similar way? Or do you have an edge that means you could charge a little more? You want to make sure you price competitively, but still make a profit.
#2. How Much Do You Need to Make a Profit?
At the end of the day, you need to make money from selling car parts online. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Look at how much you’re spending – for example, on sourcing parts, paying for an Amazon seller plan, storing inventory, or paying a dropshipper – and work out how much you need to charge in order to profit.
A good way to ensure you make profit is to use a pricing strategy like this:
Total cost of product + Markup % = Final Product Price
Total cost is made up of factors such as cost of materials, labor costs, and overheads. Markup is usually around 50%, but you’ll need to use your own judgement as to whether this works for you.
Find out more
- Want a bit more detail on exactly how to calculate your products’ pricing? Our full guide on How to Price a Product explains all, step-by-step.
#3. Avoid the Race to the Bottom
On platforms such as eBay and Amazon, your products are in direct competition with hundreds of other products, all on the same page – meaning it can be a struggle to stand out from the crowd. This can make it tempting to offer cheaper prices than everyone else, to attract more sales.
There are a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t do this.
First, it can make it difficult to achieve the golden rule of selling – make a profit. If you’re not charging enough to cover your costs, you’ll be running at a loss, which isn’t sustainable. Other competitors may also lower their prices, forcing yours even further down just to stay in the game.
Secondly, people don’t like products that are too cheap. Yes, shoppers love a deal, but they also want high quality, trustworthy products they can rely on – especially when it comes to car parts! Pricing your auto parts too low will make customers think that they’re low quality, making them more likely to avoid your products.
Don’t get so hung up on price that you forget the real worth of your products. You shouldn’t be afraid of charging a little extra – people will pay as long as they have trust in what you’re selling!
- Evaluated your outgoing costs
- Decided how much you need to charge to make a profit
- Carried out competitor research to see if your prices land in the right ballpark
- Set prices for your car parts
Find out more
- Discover How to Accept Payments Online for the top seven methods of getting paid through your store
Car parts can be pretty hard to ship. Bulky, heavy, and awkwardly shaped, they have the potential to bring on a headache. The shipping methods you choose will vary depending on your business model, sales channel, and the products you sell.
Dropshipping and Fulfilment
If you don’t want the hassle of handling shipping at all, then dropshipping is a great solution. This is where your supplier holds products for you – you then send customer orders to the supplier, who packages and ships the product directly to the customer.
This means you don’t have to worry about packing up products, finding a courier, or deciding what type of shipping your products need.
However, the downside is you don’t get any control over the shipping. Providing fast, reliable delivery is a must to keep customers happy, so place a few practise orders to check you’re satisfied before committing to a supplier.
Another, similar option is fulfilment. Amazon runs its own fulfilment program called Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA). This is where you send your products to Amazon, and pay Amazon to store and then ship your products for you.
This is different from dropshipping because Amazon is shipping your products, whereas in dropshipping, the supplier ships its own products that you’ve sold on to the customer. The other big difference is that you have to pay storage fees, which can become expensive.
If neither dropshipping nor fulfilment appeal to you, chances are you’ll need a courier to ship your products.
This is where it’s helpful to have built your store using an ecommerce platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce, because they come with built-in shipping integrations. You can even get discounts on the couriers they’ve partnered with!
It’s a good idea to check that your courier:
- Accepts your car parts (some can be classed as “dangerous goods”)
- Has a good reputation
- Offers affordable rates
- Ships to the destinations you require
- Has a partnership with your ecommerce platform
Popular courier choices include USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Canada Post, all of which are supported by both BigCommerce and Shopify.
Although it may not work for everyone, you may want to offer customer collection instead of shipping deliveries. This works best if you’re selling locally, as most people expect businesses to ship to them these days.
Shopify has a feature where you can set a “local pickup” radius. This means that customers within the zone you set will see customer pickup as an option, but customers shopping outside that zone won’t be offered pickup at checkout. Pretty neat, huh?
#1. Clean Used Products
Sounds like a no-brainer, but always be sure to clean used parts before packing them. Not only is it superior customer service, but it will also help to protect the box from grease marks, or becoming soggy from any liquids that may leak during transit.
#2. Measure Boxed Bulky Items
Wondering how to measure a particularly lumpy, irregular-shaped auto part? According to UPS advice, always measure irregularly shaped items as if they’re packaged in a rectangular box.
#3. Choose Suitable Packaging
If your part is fragile, protect it with plenty of bubble wrap and padding – you can even double box it for extra security.
Can your part be shipped as whole? Or is it safer to take it apart to protect the various components? Small parts may need to go in sealable bags to keep them safe.
Place items in the middle of the box, at least two inches away from all box walls.
Finally, make sure that any boxes you use are sturdy and properly sealed. Use 60-pound nylon-reinforced filament tape at least three inches wide. Cover all the seams, and any places where the box flaps overlap.
Drop the box a few times before packing your products to see if your handiwork holds fast!
- Explored your shipping options
- Decided which option is best for you
- Purchased any packaging materials you need
- Practised packing products
Find out more
Read our Step-by-Step Guide to Shipping Products for more helpful shipping methods, tips, and tricks.
Once you’re up and selling, you want to boost the number of people viewing and buying your car parts. It’s a good idea to promote your products in multiple ways, rather than relying on just one method. Here are some ideas to get you started…
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the process of trying to get your website to rank higher up in Google’s search results. The higher up you are, the more chance you have of someone visiting your website, giving you an advantage over the competition.
There are hundreds of ways to optimize your store, from optimizing images, to creating a mobile-friendly experience, to using headings and customizing URLs.
One drawback of eBay and Amazon is that you have less control over where your products appear in their search results.
Our top tip is to start with gaining as many positive, authentic reviews as you can, as this is a huge factor in gaining more visibility on these sales channels.
Which brings us on to…
People love to read reviews before committing to a purchase. Encourage customers to give you feedback, leave reviews, and give star ratings on your products – this will encourage others to click buy!
If you receive bad reviews, don’t panic. Dealing with negative comments in a proactive and professional way will actually boost other customers’ confidence in you. Don’t delete bad reviews, and don’t react defensively.
Always try to say “Thank you for your feedback” and “sorry” – even if it wasn’t your fault!
Social media is an awesome resource for promoting your products. You can reach a large number of people on social media, and customers can even buy products right there on your social account!
Try to choose a social channel that fits your products and your target audience. And try no to be too salesy in the content you post, or people will get bored and unfollow you.
Invite customers to send in photos of the car parts they’ve bought in action – this is a great way to engage with your audience!
Email marketing may sound outdated, but you’re still six times more likely to get a click from an email than a Tweet. If customers sign up to your newsletter, you have the perfect channel to engage and entice them back to your store.
Talk about exciting new product updates, offer exclusive discounts, and provide personalized product recommendations based on their previous purchases to keep them interested in your store.
- Looked at your marketing options
- Decided which ones are best for promoting your products
- Started creating content to spark interest in your auto parts
Find out more
- Read our full guide on How to Market a Product for even more helpful tips and details on promoting products online
You can take your foot off the gas – we’ve arrived at the summary!
By now, you know the key steps to selling car parts online. You have a good idea of where to sell car parts – Amazon, eBay, your own online store, or even all three – and how to get started with sourcing, showcasing, and shipping products.
Still, let’s have a quick recap of each step in case you want a refresher.
Selling Auto Parts Online: 7 Step Recap
- Choose your products
- Source your products
- Pick your sales channels
- Showcase your car parts
- Price your products
- Set your shipping strategies
- Promote your car parts online
Remember – anyone can sell car parts online. Whether you’re expanding your brick-and-mortar business or have a personal collection to sell, there’s a sales channel and an audience for you.
Remember to source reliable, authentic products, and showcase them professionally. Price them sensibly, ship them safely, and promote them with energy – soon enough, you’ll find yourself successfully selling car parts online!
It really depends on which state you’re in. For example, the California Air Resources Board has requirements that you must meet. So our top tip is to check before you sell, just to be safe.
Yes! But be careful, as some platforms have rules around selling cars. Amazon, for example, prohibits selling “motor vehicles that are required to be registered”, so it’s best to check. Meanwhile, eBay is a popular channel to sell all types of vehicles on, from cars to boats!
Yes, it certainly can be! eBay has a huge customer base, no subscription fees, and even gives you 50 free listings per month, meaning your outgoing costs are pretty low. Your main costs will be sourcing and shipping products, so as long as your product sells for more than you spend on these outgoings, you should make a profit.
Bestselling car parts include:
- Light fittings
- Side mirrors
- Suspension parts
- Air con units
- Seat covers
- Floor mats
- Windshield wipers