In its drive to add revenue from sales of software and services, General Motors is launching an online parts store that will give GM vehicle owners the ability to buy parts direct.
The automaker said Tuesday this is just one of many new digital offerings coming to car buyers in the future. Those include buying accessories, over-the-air upgrades and subscriptions digitally, as well as the option to shop, purchase and finance electric vehicles entirely online.
“We are placing software and digital services at the center of every part of our business,” said GM Chief Digital Officer Edward Kummer. “The future of GM retail lies at the intersection of digital and physical e-commerce.”
Pick right part
GM’s new online parts marketplace will make 45,000 repair and maintenance parts, such as oil filters, engine and cabin air filters, batteries, brake pads, accessory belts, cooling hoses and windshield wiper blades, available to Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac owners.
A GM spokesman said the automaker is not providing a launch date for the online parts store yet.
It will give customers the convenience of online shopping and physical retail all in one place, GM said. Customers can choose home delivery or to pick up their order at one of 800 participating GM dealers, where staff is available to answer questions.
But not so fast, said one Chevy dealer. He supports offering customers the convenience of e-commerce and an ability to research parts before purchase, but he said there might be some “kinks to work out.”
“On the service end, I appreciate the offering for a customer to do research,” said Paul Zimmermann, partner in Matick Automotive, which owns Matick Chevrolet in Redford Township and Matick Toyota in Macomb. “Yet with the complexity of vehicles and what a vehicle specifically needs … I shudder to think of a customer ordering an oil filter and they come to pick it up at the dealership and we have to say it’s not the right one.”
Zimmermann said Matick Chevrolet will participate in GM’s new online parts marketplace to support the growing interest in digital shopping among car buyers. In fact, Matick has its own online parts store where his customers use it as a point to start their research, he imagines that GM’s store will tie into Matick’s existing site.
“The more information you have access to is always a good thing regardless of the industry,” Zimmermann said. “How much of a game changer this is for a customer? I think it’s a tool they can do research with, but more folks will still want to have access to an expert on what goes on what.”
But GM said any parts customers buy through GM’s online store are eligible for Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC rewards programs, which allow customers to earn points that can be used to buy parts, accessories or Certified Service at participating dealers.
On Jan. 10, GM introduced My GM Rewards Card. The card has three membership tiers — Silver, Gold and Platinum — where customers can level up as they spend. Each tier unlocks higher points earnings and redemption caps. Gold and Platinum rewards members can now redeem points toward the purchase of GM Certified Pre-Owned vehicles and their points do not expire.
Consumers have a lot of options when buying parts, which can make the process confusing and intimidating, said GM spokesman Eric Tingwall. He added that many GM car owners are “ardent do-it-yourselfers” who are particular about the quality of the parts they use on their cars.
“There’s also a persistent problem with counterfeit parts being sold online through some third-party online retailers,” Tingwall said.
Buying through GM’s online store provides customers with confidence that they are getting original ACDelco parts and GM Genuine Parts that are compatible with their vehicles.
“Our premium parts are engineered with exceptional quality to provide assurance to our customers,” John Roth, GM’s Customer Care and Aftersales Global vice president, said in a statement. “The launch of this trusted online sales channel extends that peace of mind to the parts-buying experience.”
Tingwall added that the online store will be a “big opportunity for GM and its dealers.”
“Like so many other forms of retail, automotive parts purchases are rapidly moving online,” Tingwall said. “GM plans to tap into the opportunity by offering customers a superior buying experience based on our unique ability to offer original-equipment parts online backed by the convenience and expertise of our dealers.”
GM forecasts that online sales of parts and accessories will make up a $40 billion total addressable market by 2030, and it anticipates significant revenue growth from its expanded e-commerce effort.
GM launched online accessory sales in 2015 and currently sells all of its 5,000 accessory products online.
This latest initiative goes toward GM’s revenues targets outlined on Investor Day in October. At that time, GM projected it will reach annual software and services revenue of $20 billion to $25 billion from an estimated 30 million connected vehicles by the end of the decade.
GM also plans to offer parts, accessories, digital products delivered over-the-air and subscriptions through a single digital storefront. For example, customers will be able to buy upgrades such as improved capabilities for its hands-free driving system called Super Cruise. Or they can buy personalization themes for their car’s touchscreens.
GM said in the future its digital retail platform will allow customers to shop, purchase and finance EVs either entirely online or move to an in-store experience at any point in the process.
GM is also extending its subscription services platform, but it is not yet offering details, Tingwall said.