Amazon.com and the Drive to Sell Aftermarket Auto Parts

By now you’ve likely heard the news that Amazon wants a big slice of the aftermarket auto parts pie, and that Amazon has already made deals with some large parts manufacturers — Federal-Mogul and Bosch being a couple of these companies. We have had over a week to digest this news; admittedly it was received with some alarm at first. After all, the thought that this online e-commerce behemoth could chew up and spit out our neighborhood parts stores was a bit shocking.

Many of us, if not nearly all of us, have purchased items from Amazon and may order from Amazon on a regular basis. It’s becoming practically habit-forming to check prices at stores and on e-commerce websites against Amazon’s prices — using Amazon’s price points at a “price anchor.” Price anchoring is a cognitive bias that all of us have when comparison shopping. If we use incredibly low price points as an anchor when comparing prices, such as low Amazon prices, we will likely find a higher price (such as at a brick-and-mortar store) unappealing.

However, the store on the corner can get a part to a garage or dealership service bay in a matter of minutes. At this point in the game, Amazon simply cannot deliver that fast. Yet, anyway. So after some time to process, and particularly after absorbing this viewpoint from Bloomberg, it is plausible that our brick-and-mortar parts retailers are not doomed at all.

This $50B a year industry affects everyone who owns a vehicle, and those who have their vehicles repaired at garages and dealerships will continue to have parts purchased from local parts stores and shipped from warehouses. It is entirely likely, then, that those ordering parts from Amazon will be the DIY gearheads who know far more about auto repair and modification than the average driver and consumer — meaning that Amazon will do well selling auto parts, but won’t single-handedly put Advance Auto Parts and the like out of business at all. It remains to be seen, but I’m willing to wager we’ll be able to stop by our neighborhood auto parts store for urgently needed auto-related products for quite some time.