Market Snapshot

UPS Survey Unveils Automotive Aftermarket Online Consumer Preferences

Compiled by SEMA Editors

According to a new study, "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper for Automotive Parts & Accessories Buyers," 75% of respondents reported that they have added items to their shopping carts to qualify for free shipping.
A new study, "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper for Automotive Parts & Accessories Buyers," highlights new findings about online consumers that can help automotive aftermarket suppliers compete more effectively.

Primary Findings included:
  • Although price is a major factor in the online purchasing process, automotive parts and accessories (AP&A) survey respondents said non-price features, such as the seller’s return policy, product selection and shipping options make up 60% of all comparison-shopping considerations.
  • Online sellers who can best meet and manage their online customers’ expectations may have a more meaningful advantage over their competition, according to recent comScore research.
  • 75% reported that they have added items to their shopping carts to qualify for free shipping.
  • Online shoppers are willing to wait up to seven days to receive their shipment in exchange for no additional fees.

Additional survey findings included:

Channel Preference and Usage

  • 61% percent prefer to shop online while only 27% prefer to purchase in-store.
  • 46% of online shopping occurs between the hours of 6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. For sellers, this means that later order cut-off times could be a potential differentiator and a customer service advantage over the competition.
  • 39% of AP&A shoppers report spending $250 or more from their computer versus 11% on tablet devices and 9% through their smartphone. The growing subject of mobile and tablet devices implies that sellers should closely monitor demand for this channel preference and adapt their sales channel strategy accordingly.
  • One in 10 buyers prefer to shop using a mobile device or tablet.

Shopper Satisfaction

  • Although 81% of AP&A shoppers surveyed were satisfied overall with the shopping experience, they are the least satisfied with the amount of control and flexibility they have when it comes to the delivery of their purchases. Shoppers are looking for more flexibility to choose delivery dates and times, ability to pick up their order at a convenient retail location, flexibility to re-route packages and environmentally “green” shipping options.
  • 53% of AP&A buyers said the availability of free or discounted shipping on automotive websites needs the most improvement. This was followed by 42% who would like ease of checkout improvements and 40% who were looking for more clear and easy understanding of the seller’s return policy.
  • 48% said they abandoned their online shopping cart if the shipping cost was higher than they expected or if they discovered that their order wasn’t large enough to qualify for free shipping.


  • 96% of respondents indicated the ability to track their shipment is important.


  • 59% reported being satisfied with the ease of making returns and exchanges, indicating there is room for improvement in this area.
  • 71% of online shoppers said they are more likely to purchase from a seller for the first time if that seller has a “hassle-free” returns policy.
  • Restocking fees were a deal breaker for most shoppers. Shoppers also said they are less likely to make a purchase if they have to pay a restocking fee, even if the actual return shipping is free.

Survey Methodology: The data used for the study was extracted from the second annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study—a survey of 3,000 online consumers. The AP&A study on automotive aftermarket buyers was tabulated from nearly 200 respondents who shop online for automotive parts and accessories.

For a copy of the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper for Automotive Parts & Accessories customer experience study, visit or email