Web sales fall  28% for the auto parts retailer.

E-commerce sales in the first quarter fell for online auto parts retailer U.S. Auto Parts Network. Total  sales were down, too, as the retailer’s loss widened.

For the quarter ended March 30, U.S. Auto Parts Network, No. 89 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 guide, reported:

  • Online sales of $58.6 million, a 28.3% decrease from $81.7 million in the first quarter of 2012. Online sales represent 89.6% of total sales, the retailer says.
  • Offline sales, which the company says represent 10.4% of total sales, were $6.7 million, up 15.5% from $5.8 million in the same quarter last year. Offline sales include the company’s private-label products and wholesale business.
  • Total sales of $65.4 million, down by 25.2% from $87.4 million in the first quarter of 2012.
  • Net loss was $3.3 million, compared with a net loss of $788,000 in Q1 2012.
  • Conversion rate was 1.44% compared with 1.47%.
  • Total orders were 529,000, down by 25.0% from 705,000.
  • Average ticket was $109, a 6.0% decrease from $116.
  • Total visitors declined by 23.2%, to 36.8 million from 47.9 million.

The retailer says a number of factors affected its online sales. One is that unnamed suppliers now are selling direct to consumers, U.S. Auto Parts Network says. “Since our suppliers have access to merchandise at very low costs, they were able to sell products at lower prices and maintain higher gross margins, thus our financial results were negatively impacted by the increased level of competition,” it says in its quarterly report. It also reduced its paid search spending because U.S. Auto Parts Network determined the revenues generated from those purchases did not justify the expenses.

Because of these trends, the retailer expects revenues and its net loss to continue to slide in 2013. But, it has devised a strategy to counter that. Among its tactics are efforts to improve search on its sites, expand the use of high-quality images and videos, lower prices and increase its product selection. U.S. Auto Parts Network operates AutoPartsWarehouse.com, JCWhitney.com and AutoMD.com, an automobile repair cost estimating site.