Engine Parts – why the big deal?
Over the years the biggest advancement seen on the internet is social interaction and marketing and while big name brands such as Toyota car, Honda motorcycles and Texas Instruments have a significant online presence it has become quite difficult to sift through the mountains of online stores which supply either niche services or obscure parts. There are two things which are immediately apparent when I did research for this article – it pays to be at number one slot with Google and secondly, I feel some of the marketing pertains to key words which are not relevant to the search and a lot of time wasting does indeed take place. Oh, yes there is even a third – once you have the website which may have a solution you must still phone in or drop an email. Is this lack of search optimisation or lack of a detailed search?
From a global perspective eBay seems to be the way to go but yet shipping costs can make or break a deal. In my native South Africa many companies do advertise on the internet but only to have a web presence – these websites lack the ability for the user to control what they want to look up and view. I get the impression that many of these companies are stuck in what I call the ‘magazine’ era and take less of a practical ‘cataloging’ approach. A very good website is Mantech Electronics – first page advertises their suppliers/manufacturers and the rest is cataloged using a simple but effective search mechanism.
The Hunter Gatherer Mindset
I do firmly believe that there are two styles generated by many websites: the magazine – for the gatherer and the catalog – for the hunter. Ever shop with your spouse. Men supposedly know what they want – search, find, pay. Women also supposedly know what they want – browse, gather information, collect and pay. Do men shop more effectively? No. Do women shop more effectively? No. Websites usually cater either for the hunter or the gatherer. Why go to a website where one must download the catalog of goods sold which is retrieved from a database. Some of the biggest stores with the most capital behind them have the most primitive websites. There are many exceptional websites as well – one being Texas Instruments which covers both, hunter and gatherer. The second is Mantech Electronics – see above.
I am overly simplifying this – the bottom line is that websites do not necessarily cater for the many user types. We need to use a combination of techniques to attract and keep our visitors.
The Strength of the Website – Engine Parts advertising
Imagine a world where every household had a machine which could be coupled onto an industry standard connector in their car or motorcycle or boat or whatever which could diagnose a problem, send you to a website where you could order the parts or as in most cases send you to a list of companies authorised to do the repair and displaying all costs, including those usually hidden.
Did you know that there are software diagnostic tools used on your home computer that do just that. Most printer companies have software which tells the user when their consumables are running low and take you to an online store to purchase these consumables. Refrigerator manufacturers have software which tells you when perishables are running low and can even do online orders for you. Marvellous world – not the auto industry though. The more sophisticated the auto electronics the more they should be able to communicate effectively to the user what is really going on – not just an ECU check light coming on. Someone driving a 200 000U$ Mercedes is certainly not going to do the work himself but lets get some options into the equation like telling us before a problem occurs, not when the problem occurs.
Back to Engine Parts
We need to look at how companies specialising in motor spares are advertising on their website. Of course this can apply to most industries where there is use of mechanical parts. We focus on the home mechanic here. The motor manufacturer supplies a trouble-shooting flow diagram on the internet. Images are stored and at certain click-points on the diagram the image is displayed. This may or may not equate to a problematic part. The part number is displayed. This is referenced on the manufacturer database as a number of probable replacement parts for that particular VIN number. The user then goes to the world’s biggest supplier of engine parts and checks pricing, availability and shipping. Of course there will be a disclaimer telling the user that replacing a working part is his or her problem, not theirs. Feasible? Very much so – watch how insurance companies know your needs without you even asking them. Insurance and banking sectors are so far ahead of the pack in this respect that I just cannot understand why the very sector that needs it most is behind the times. We know of course that the automobile has many secrets – most of which only the technician or mechanic knows about. It’s what keeps the industry flourishing. There are many home mechanics that are very talented, do know their way around even the most modern technology but get stumped when they need to get the proper part.
Engine Parts Suppliers
I have come across some real gems in the automobile industry. As mentioned before, it pays to be number one:
Online Car Parts SA – well thought out, great pricing and yes, they follow a great catalog structure (categories).
I have singled out this website – we are not affiliate to this company, they do not endorse us by any means and what I state here is strictly based on my own honest opinion. It is THE best website for auto parts on the internet. No flashing lights, bells, whistles and click here to win a free holiday to the outer Hebrides. This is a no frills website.
I spent over two hours going through Google search returns and was not impressed by what I saw. It comes down to the gist of this article – the DIY home mechanic often knows what he wants and now needs to buy it. Why should so many thousands of websites dedicated to providing this service not provide it. Why should we have to hunt around for a part?
A really great website on the GS and GSX motorcycles from’76 to ’85 is ‘the GS Resources‘ website. Yes, Suzuki made really great bikes then as they still do today but these bikes put Suzuki on the map. What makes this website great is not the lack of a parts search facility but the fact that it endorses the ‘club’ mentality which really does facilitate easier parts finding on rare and sometimes obscure parts. There are tons of ‘club’ websites out there – some really great ones too but if you are a die-hard Suzuki fan, especially of the older bikes, this website takes a typical magazine approach. (gatherer of information).
These two websites point typically to the two different approaches website administrators and/or owners take. It is well known that amongst our eCommerce fraternity too little information will lead the reader to be indecisive or worse still make a decision based on pricing alone.
Engine Parts – Catalogs and Documents we really don’t need
I find it appalling that some of the largest companies known to man have a catalog which can be downloaded. Period. Am I the only one that thinks like this? They are using state of the art servers and databases which allows one to retrieve a catalog. How many users will print this catalog?
The truth of the matter is that we do need an international repository for all VIN numbers and then a breakdown of part numbers affiliate to that VIN. The online companies (and of course not so online) can feed off this to provide a service to the end user.
Mix and Match
Some parts for motorcycle, boat and car engines are interchangeable. High performance boat engines cost an arm and a leg. A well informed stockist can often assist a potential buyer to get the most bang for his buck. But why should they? Profit is a big motivator in all industries. Be especially aware of the electronics. We do not know the part numbers and if they are the same most often they can be interchangeable and yes, often cheaper too if you know where to go to.
Pie in the Sky
Many readers may think this article is pie in the sky but the relevance of having a proper catalog for all part numbers is becoming more important. The Chinese are walking the talk with cheap replacement parts for most makes of vehicle but sometimes generic car parts are just not suitable and of course dealer prices in these times are totally exaggerated.
When looking for suitable Engine Parts (in this article) does not mean it MUST come from the manufacturer of your car or bike – they may have been made by another manufacturer where pricing is going to be far cheaper than through the dealership. A 1000% markup is not that uncommon so know where to go and what to look for. Right now we are being shafted big time. Be informed!