Monday, December 10, 2012

SimplePart Newsletter: November 2012

Welcome to our News and Update wrap-up for November 2012.

As usual, I’ll try to summarize the news that matters – and get right to the good stuff. 

Congratulations all on a strong month this November. In 2011, overall sales for November were 12% lower than sales in October – this is typical of the impact holiday travel and spending takes on parts sales. This year, sales for November were only 2.6% lower than October, which is incredible. Even more so when you consider the impact Sandy had on sales in the first part of the month. Special thanks to those of you who have been running email campaigns and seasonal promotions. We’ve helped many of you run very successful email campaigns this month, as well as “free shipping” offers over Black Friday/Cyber Monday – keep those great ideas coming.

We’ve been making changes to our landing pages and our product pages to further sculpt the kind of keyword traffic we want each to register for in the major search engines. For us, this has meant a surge in spider traffic – for you, it means (over time) even more website visitors and orders. Keep an eye on your reporting, and look out for more searches involving model years leading to Product pages and more “broad” searches leading to the SEO/Landing pages.

This month we’re excited to introduce several new members of the family here at SimplePart. Starting with us in December will be a new Support Lead, a new PR/Social Media Manager and a new Graphic Designer. Expect great things from Ruslan, Carissa and Ryan. Every family member we add helps us offer you new and better services – we appreciate your patience with us, and with our new family members as they “spin up.”

We are pushing around 3,700,000 page requests per day, and are coming up on 1,100,000 monthly unique human visitors. We actually had two small outages this month; one lasted less than 5 minutes, the other nearly 15. Both occurred late at night and were caused by maintenance being performed by one of our upstream providers. These were unscheduled interruptions in service, and we apologize that you were affected by them – we are working with these third parties to ensure outages like these are not repeated.



Let’s talk about the Competition for a minute. The biggest player in aftermarket online parts is US Auto Parts Network – they own and, among others. Combined, USAP properties sold $66.3m in parts online in Q3 2012 for a net loss of $2.7m. In Q3 2011 their net loss was $5.7m. They are publically traded, and the numbers I’ll quote below are from their published financial reports.

·         Sales were down 10.3%, Visitors were down 9.5% and Average Purchase was down 5.7% for Q3 2012 compared to Q3 2011.

·         Their conversion rate for Q3 2012 was 1.50%, down from 1.57% for Q3 2011.

·         $1.67m is spent each month on online advertising, as a part of a $4.3m total monthly marketing budget.

·         A further $560,000 is spent each month on “technology”, $1.5m per month on “administration” and another $1.8m per month on “fulfillment.”

·         12.7m monthly visitors generated $24.34m per month in sales during Q3 2012.

·         Marketing, Administration, Fulfillment and Technology expenses total $43.82 per order.

·         Average markup is 46% and their average purchase size is $115

·         Average Gross Profit per Order (including shipping charges) is $39.95

·         All told, for Q3 2012 USAP lost about $4 for every order they processed. Can you imagine?

Reading between the lines, it’s possible that they had three equally slow months during Q3 – but it’s far more likely that they were badly hit by Google’s Panda and Shopping changes (as some of you have been). This would mean that their July sales were normal and August and September were down dramatically. Results for Q4 will be telling.

Their report makes for fascinating reading, and is available here:

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It is reported that more than $1.46b was spent online on Cyber Monday (17%+ over 2011), $1b was spent online on Black Friday this year (26%+), and $633m was spent on Thanksgiving day (32%+). The big winners were Amazon (most visited website, ~14% of all internet users) and Mobile (responsible for 16.3% of sales). For more on these big selling days, check the links below:


According to recent research, 49% of mobile (phone and tablet) auto searchers buy a car within 24 hours. Only 1% of those mobile users used an “app”, most used web searches and websites. Surveyed users reported preferring to use un-biased third party sources rather than websites/apps provided by the manufacturer. And according to IBM, across all online retail websites over Black Friday 24% of consumers used a mobile device to shop, and 16% used one to make a purchase. Customers still aren’t entirely sold on the idea of buying with a mobile device – but it’s moving quickly in that direction.

As you can see from your Control Panel reporting, mobile and tablet browsers are now accounting for between 5% and 15% of your traffic – and growing steadily. Our policy here at SimplePart is to test all of our websites across a variety of browsers, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, iPhone, iPad, Android Phone, Android tablet and Microsoft Surface. As the mobile opportunity grows, your websites will grow with it.

To read more on these two studies, click here:

Amazon Warehouse

Have you ever wondered how Amazon handles the picking, packing and shipping of orders? There are no robots, only people with barcode scanners. Products are shelved entirely at random, and they call it “chaotic storage.” Get the inside scoop on how Amazon shelves and processes orders here – complete with pictures.

Tips for December


One of the biggest (and easiest) things you can do to improve sales in 2013 is to begin participating now (today) in an enthusiast online forum. This will do two things for you: it will generate direct sales from the people that you connect with on these forums, and it will add to the social signals Google sees from the online “community” endorsing your website. Some of the most valuable links you can have are from enthusiast forums – each one of these connections that you create by answering a forum member’s question or posting a link to a product or image on your website will establish a link in Google’s eyes from this reputable community resource (forum) to your website. These connections will improve your Google ranking, generate more traffic, and generate more orders. This is incredibly important to your long-term growth.

All it takes is spending a couple hours per week answering questions in the forums. If you’d like, you can also become a sponsoring member for additional visibility. It’s easy to get started – we’re happy to help. Please let us know if you’re interested in getting started.

New Features Just Released

1.       Our new real-time chat feature will be releasing the first week of December. With this feature, your customers can click “Live Chat” and be connected directly to you. You can have as many members of your team monitoring and responding to Chats as you’d like. From the Chat console you can monitor your customer’s browsing, cart and past orders. It’s simple and easy to use – and will cut down on your phone call volume.
Please let us know if you’d like to start using Live Chat.

2.       Sitemap feeds were modified for all websites so that product detail page variants which include vehicle model year are submitted. As a byproduct of Google’s Panda changes, we’ve noticed that incoming query traffic to Product Details pages through July often included a model year – since then, it has not. Adding these pages explicitly to our feeds should boost traffic of this type.

3.       Sitemap feeds were modified for all websites so that disabled products are submitted. When a customer searches in Google or Bing for these items, we want your websites to come up so that we have the opportunity to redirect these customers to valid products, to accessories – or at least, make a good impression with them.

4.       Sitemap feeds were modified to submit new model/category SEO landing pages.

5.       DealerRater and ResellerRatings reviews are now synchronized and shown on your websites on Testimonials pages.

6.       Meta tagging on the Product Details pages was modified to improve page targeting for common keywords.

7.       Added listing of orders to the Control Panel – Order Details page, for when a customer has previous cancelled orders

8.       AVS verification is now not required for transactions that you run from the Control Panel

9.       When using, credit card numbers are now wiped down to the last 4 for International orders.

10.   Product page rich snippets were adjusted to maintain compliance with new Google standards.

11.   Assembly page loading time improved

12.   Order Details page loading time improved

13.   Product Details page “Add to Cart” button adjusted for IE10 compatibility

14.   Report added: Forecasting by week and quarter

15.   Report added: Net Profit per visitor

16.   Report added: Google SERP by page

17.   Added the ability to show an seal on the Cart page

Thanks for your continued business, and please email or call if you have any questions, special requests or feedback on the newsletter.

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