September 1, 2022

How AI-Search can Steer the Automotive Aftermarket to Success

The automotive aftermarket is one of the largest industries in the global economy today, and its online presence is only expected to continue to become more dominating in the near future. The current size of the industry is $325 billion dollars in the US alone. That number is expected to increase to $372 billion by 2024. Approximately 50% of aftermarket sales are influenced by online research, however, only 5% of sales occur online. With over 20,000 product types in about 25 different product categories, how can a distributor convert these digital touchpoints into digital sales?    

Product databases within the industry are not only extensive, but they are incredibly complicated. This is where AI-enhanced site search becomes mission-critical to the industry.  Site search solutions, like Hawksearch, can simplify how the data in a complex catalog is presented, making it easy to find the right part quickly and efficiently. The aftermarket distributor that can be the first to implement an advanced site search gains the competitive edge.


The Automotive Aftermarket  

This industry specifically deals in the selling of parts to maintain the vehicle after it has been sold to the customer. That means it needs to offer every part for every make, model, and recent year for the entire automotive industry. When looking at it from that perspective, the number of SKUs associated with 20,000 product types is staggering. Retailers and distributors need to be able to organize their product databases just to maintain their sanity, let alone be competitive.  

Additionally, the industry must deal with unique customer buying habits.  Buyers conduct extensive research online to find the perfect part, and then in almost every case will make the physical journey to buy it in person. Aftermarket retailers and distributors can double down on their competitive edge and increase their sales and conversions by aiding their customers with their research. By providing relevant, transparent, and informative product details, in a simple and friendly manner, aftermarket retailers can instill confidence in a buyer that their purchased part is the correct fitment for the job. While additionally presenting themselves as a preferred resource that buyers can trust to purchase their next order online.  

Hawksearch: Pedal to the Medal  

Hawksearch is the all-in-one site search solution for retailers to use to increase traffic, conversion, and their customers’ average order value. While there are dozens of other out-of-the-box solutions, Hawksearch has a long history of automotive experience and has served in the eCommerce industry for over 12 years. For retailers, there is no better option to accelerate online sales and improve the customer experience than Hawksearch.  

Hawksearch has seamless integrations into a wide variety of eCommerce platforms and offers intelligent site search and data normalization features powered by machine learning software. For customers with different levels of search intent, Hawksearch makes it easy to gather information and find relevant results. Hawksearch has additional features specifically designed to empower automotive aftermarket retailers, such as its Universal Search Bar and Search Information Manager. These features not only boost traffic and conversions but improve the customer experience beyond what the competition can offer.  

Universal Search Bar  

The Universal Search Bar is an essential asset to anyone in the automotive industry. For retailers and distributors, this feature is a search bar essential.  The Universal Search Bar allows online shoppers to easily find parts and accessories that will precisely fit their vehicle. Shoppers enter the year, make, and model of the vehicle which filters down the number of possible results, and returns a set of results for that specific niche.

The Universal Search Bar organizes data to offer the exact part fitment for the customer’s vehicle, so that no matter how specific or niche a part may be, buyers can find it easily and efficiently.  

This level of filtering ensures that product information isn’t buried under a mountain of product category pages and menus, considerably improving the customer’s journey online.  

Search Information Manager  

Hawksearch’s Search Information Manager (SIM) feature is in a class on its own, with almost no other solution offering anything similar or as powerful. SIM offers an in-depth unit of measure conversion, data normalization and enrichment, and full SKU catalog support.  

SIM’s unit of measure conversion allows customers to search in their own terms without having to worry about the quality of their results. It recognizes the relationships between measurements and can comprehend and return accurate results no matter how a search was entered. For example, if a customer were to search for a part that was 6in, 6 inches, 6”, or 0.5 feet, SIM would understand that these different queries represent the same measurement and would return the same results.  

Additionally, SIM’s data normalization feature makes it easier to index and reindex product data, keeping large SKU databases organized and simpler to maintain, and connecting product information to relevant search terms. Powerful data indexing can significantly simplify product databases, benefiting both the buyer and seller.  

Driving Success  

Every mechanic or car enthusiast knows that to fix a problem you need the right tool for the job. The same thing applies to searching for information on your website. If people can’t find what they’re looking for easily, they will go somewhere else. Aftermarket retailers can drive their online success through Hawksearch implementation so that they can ensure that their customers are receiving the full value of their product catalog.  

Hawksearch can help in other ways as well, helping to increase average order value through autocompleted product recommendations in the search bar, offering machine-learned personalization to help remember returning customer orders, and overcoming data inconsistencies across PIM, ERP, and commerce platforms.  

By improving the customer search journey and creating a personalized experience, automotive aftermarket retailers can increase their sales both in person and online. Establishing themselves as a leader in online commerce, they can guarantee to increase revenue by creating a service that buyers are excited to return to.  


For more information on how Hawksearch is uniquely suited to benefit automotive aftermarket distributors, download our infographic, or schedule a call with our sales team today.

by Nick Zerbst

Latest blog posts