In February, eBay Motors acquired WHI Solutions in a landmark deal that looks to change the landscape of parts retail and distribution in the automotive aftermarket. Now, after a few months settling in, longtime WHI President and CEO Bryan Murphy (now WHI managing director and eBay senior director) brings us up to speed on the company’s integration into eBay and what the future looks like for the two online powerhouses.
It’s been a little more than three months now since eBay acquired WHI Solutions. The news garnered a lot of attention, and surely part of that is because there’s still a bit of confusion as to what eBay Motors’ role is, and will be, in the automotive aftermarket space. Can you talk a little about this?
eBay Motors’ role in the automotive aftermarket space is to provide the best platform to connect parts sellers with buyers. We’re using technology and innovation to deliver a great buying experience for eBay’s 105 million active users around the globe and are enabling sellers to surface inventory to buyers when, where and how they want to shop. A great example of our commitment to creating the best buying experience is mobile. eBay Inc.’s apps have been downloaded more than 90 million times across the globe and more than 340,000 auto parts and accessories are sold through eBay mobile apps every week.
WHI’s focus has always been on helping our customers sell more parts, so we’re working on maximizing that synergy between the two organizations, to maximize our customers online and offline revenue.
The reality today is that parts buyers, both commercial accounts and consumers, are increasing their Web purchases and buying differently. Our focus is on enabling multi-channel commerce to help parts sellers reach more customers efficiently and effectively, while meeting changing customer expectations and needs in today’s online world.
How does WHI now fit into the eBay framework and what are the benefits of this acquisition – for both companies?
WHI Solutions has a big role in the parts industry – we have more than 1,600 clients and hundreds of thousands of users – and the eBay Motors marketplace extends the value WHI Solutions provides to its customers and users. eBay customers can benefit from WHI’s world-class catalog, which provides eBay with the foundation to expand its catalog from auto replacement parts to specialty equipment, racing performance and vintage parts to meet the needs of every automotive enthusiast.
eBay Motors intends to build upon the great technology offerings WHI Solutions provides to its clients while providing accessibility to our marketplace in a seamless fashion; allowing all wholesalers, retailers, jobbers and dealers to sell on the eBay global marketplace with the click of a button – and provide sellers with the benefit of increased sales, lower marketing costs and a more efficient inventory system.
There’s a big push for parts retailers to offer more online/e-commerce conveniences for customers today – such as “order online, pick up in store,” to help them retain that online customer and bring them back to the bricks and motor store. Where does WHI/eBay fit in – are you a competitor or a partner to the retailers in this instance?
eBay Motors is not a competitor, but rather a partner to retailers and sellers of all sizes and is focused on providing a complementary sales channel for parts sellers. We know that parts sellers need their inventory to be accessible where, when and how the shopper needs it to be – whether that’s on mobile, local, online or offline, and we’re continually innovating in these areas to offer sellers more ways to reach customers.
Now that WHI has a much broader reach through eBay, what are your plans for growing the business?
eBay Motors and WHI will continue to seek new ways to bring parts sellers and buyers together, and to deliver the best experience possible to both parties. You can expect to see us continue to expand our catalog reach and depth. Also, we’ll work with our WHI customers to help them leverage the eBay Motors platform and 105 million global users to reach more parts buyers with their inventory. We want to make sure that selling parts on eBay, no matter how large the seller, is easy and delivers the results parts sellers are looking for.
We’re committed to investing in delivering a great parts buying experience for eBay’s global user base by leveraging our detailed data and developing the technology needed to help buyers and sellers get the most out of the online channel.
Where do you see online retail and e-commerce in the aftermarket headed over the next several years, especially as commercial business becomes increasingly important to parts retailers?
Parts sales online is underpenetrated when compared to other industries, and we think there will be a huge and continued opportunity to drive online sales for parts sellers in the coming years. We are seeing growing consumer expectations and demand for the ability to research and shop for auto parts anytime and anywhere, whether that’s making a purchase on mobile, online, or locally in the store. We believe this trend will continue, and it will become increasingly imperative for parts retailers, wholesalers, distributors and dealers to deliver across these channels in order to remain competitive. You need your products to be in front of customers, no matter where they are or how they prefer to shop.
What’s happened in other markets, with the blurring of lines between online and offline commerce, is happening in the aftermarket. The sellers who embrace this and build strategies to address the changing customer needs and expectations will remain competitive. eBay will continue to be a partner to sellers and is focused on enabling commerce in today’s environment. The world of parts selling is evolving and eBay Motors is at the forefront of helping sellers be successful in this changing retail environment.