How Aftermarket Consumers Use Social and Mobile

social and mobile usage

What can we learn about mobile devices and social media when customers are interacting with and ordering from parts suppliers?

What are online customers looking for? UPS did a study trying to find out so they could work with retailers on providing better shipping options. In a previous blog, we talked about how the study shows a shift in online orders growth from niche performance products via online-only suppliers toward major growth in replacement parts sales, particularly for traditional brick and mortar stores. This time around, we’ll look at what we can learn about mobile devices and social media, two recent additions to the options customers have for interacting with and ordering from parts suppliers.

Social networking gives normal people a voice, both for sharing news between themselves and for interacting with companies. Two thirds of online parts shoppers use social networking sites, but it’s not evenly split between the sexes: of those surveyed, 76% of women used these sites compared to just 54% of men. While platforms like Twitter and Instagram have made strides in recent years, Facebook is still the most popular social networking site among customers.

26% of buyers say social media influences purchase decisions, but the most influence isn’t where you’d expect it. 24% of buyers getting upgrade parts said social media influenced their purchases, compared to 31% of those buying replacement parts. It’s the people looking for a part that works rather than a part that they can show off who are turning to social media for information.

Social media isn’t just about external sites: giving your customers a voice can have a major impact on how they view the usefulness of your online presence. 71% say that reviews are an influential part of the online retail experience, and 58% find ratings and reviews helpful, making it the most important feature of a retailer’s website.

Where does mobile fit in for these buyers? There are still kinks to work out on mobile platforms since they are relatively new, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that only 79% of users are satisfied with their mobile experience compared with 84% of users on larger devices including computers and tablets. Despite this gap, these shoppers are far more satisfied with these options over in-store shopping, which had a satisfaction rate of just 65%. No matter where they’re buying, 41% of shoppers use their phone to read product details so they can make better purchasing decisions.

Mobile use is wildly different between the sexes: men are almost twice as likely as women to look for stores, research products and track deliveries on their smartphone. However, when it comes to installing a part, women are almost as likely as men to do it themselves.

Customers of both sexes are looking for more convenience using online tools. 63% would like an email or text with an approximate time of delivery, 62% would like to authorize delivery beforehand instead of needing to be home to sign for a package, and 45% want electronic receipts via email or text.

What about the future? It should be no surprise that Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 34, like to use mobile devices and social media more than older customers. If you have a mobile-ready website or app, you’re already catering to them since Millennials 34% of their parts shopping on their phones, compared to just 2% of older customers. The number one thing Millennials look for when visiting a parts store online is fitment data. 47% of them are likely to promote brands they like using social media, and 36% say social media has an influence on their purchases.

What lessons can we learn from all these numbers? Customers use online and mobile access because they want more information about what they’re buying. Men use mobile tools to track packages and find stores, women and millennials are the biggest users of social media, and everyone wants online services to make delivery more convenient. Lastly, the overwhelming popularity of mobile and social media usage among Millennials hints at a trend of increased usage in the future.

Vertical Development can help you be there for your online and mobile customers. Our ShowMeTheParts database is built to be used on mobile platforms with small screen friendly interfaces, HTML5-based tools that work in mobile browsers, and apps for iOS and Android. As the largest public parts database on the market with full access to photos, technical documents and 360 degree views on smartphones, we can help you deliver the information your customers want.

Call us at (847) 609-9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com to get started today!