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A guide to successful eTailing in the auto care industry

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 08:00
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Scott Luckett, vice president for industry strategy at GCommerce Inc., and Michael Birnholz, founder and CEO of Sophio.com, presented the “whys” and the “hows” of successfully competing in the world of online commerce at AAPEX Nov. 2. With eTailing forecast volume of $13 billion by 2018, it was not surprising to find the meeting room filled with distributors, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers.

Luckett drew upon his 30 years in the independent auto care industry to help those still on the fence understand why the digital disruption that will be seen in the next five years will exceed all that has come before. “Millennials, mobile and money” are the key drivers, he said, and the traditional ways of commerce are not going to be accepted by the next generation of consumers and business leaders.

“A generation that has never known a day without the Internet is not going to shop, buy and transact the same way their fathers did,” he said.

Luckett shared some of the most important strategies for those who want to succeed online. At the top of that list is to offer complete, rich product content to help customers make informed and accurate product selections. Luckett used specific examples of how brands can be harmed by inaccurate product information.

“There’s no reason for failing on this because we have a robust set of industry standards and best practices for product information exchange,” he said. “Tomorrow’s customer will refuse to buy from suppliers who do not instill confidence with their product content.”

Luckett closed his segment by explaining the role of mobile technology in online commerce. He said that more searches are performed on mobile devices (tablets and phones) than on desktops, and earlier this year Google changed their algorithm to demote websites that were not mobile-optimized.

“Auto care customers are innately mobile at their time of need or decision”, he said. “You should view your website in the way over 50 percent of your customers do (on a mobile device) and ask yourself if that is the customer experience you want to deliver.”

Shifting to practical pointers about building effective web stores, Birnholz presented – and debunked – the most common myths and misconceptions about search engines and Google. Sophio is a widely used commerce platform and Birnholz has studied the best practices in online commerce throughout his career.

Birnholz ran counter to conventional thinking when he explained that the biggest click or ad budget does not guarantee top organic listings or success in the world of search.

Google continues to refine their algorithms with the goal of providing the most relevant results to a query. Loading web pages with search engine optimization key words will do more harm than good today, Birnholz said. Instead, unique and accurate product content is king in the world of search engine marketing, and ignoring social media is perhaps the biggest mistake an eTailer can make.

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