Manufacturers like Sensata Technologies rely on B2B channel partners to help build automotive parts sales to repair shops. Merchants often fail to display the informative online product descriptions and images that lead to sales – but now things are starting to change.

Automotive original equipment manufacturer Sensata Technologies makes a critical item for today’s motor vehicles: tire pressure monitoring devices, common in car electronics safety systems.

If you want to stay in step with ecommerce, you need five images.
Joe Thomas, global aftermarket catalogue manager
Sensata Technologies

Sensata manufactures products for several industries. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2021, Sensata reported a 25.5% year-over-year revenue increase to $3.82 billion.

But many of its automotive aftermarket channel partners have been slow to foster sales with effective online product displays — a problem Sensata is now fixing with a nearly real-time view of how its channel partners’ display its product images and descriptions.

Checking Amazon and Walmart

Sensata’s manufacturing unit for tire pressure monitoring sensors, Schrader TPMS Solutions, makes hundreds of sensor SKUs to match the specifications of different tire brands, models and sizes. To ensure that repair-shop end customers can find the SKU they need, Sensata typically forwards channel partners several product images, each showing a different angle, for each SKU.

But after manually checking channel partners’ websites, or their product listings on Amazon, Walmart or other marketplaces, Sensata often finds only one product — or one or more images that are not Sensata’s and not accurate or helpful to buyers.

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“If you want to stay in step with ecommerce, you need five images,” Joe Thomas, Sensata’s global aftermarket catalogue manager, says he tells merchants.

Sensata is not alone in finding products that automotive aftermarket merchants displayed online poorly. A recent Content Status study found that 74% of merchants’ online product content pages lacked basic content requirements. For example, the study found that 30% of product displays did not mention the brand name in the title, and 64% failed to include the brand name in the product description. Content Status is a web content auditing and management technology provider.

An automated content-auditing system

Sensata struggled with ensuring that content on its branded products was displayed accurately, effectively and consistently throughout its sales channels, Thomas says.

“We have consistent content in our system, but it doesn’t necessarily flow out to trading partners,” Thomas says.

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It’s become routine for suppliers to check how merchants are displaying their branded product content. But many suppliers have teams manually scraping information from merchants’ websites. They even build online tools to do that automatically, Thomas says.

Sensata decided to go with an automated system from Content Status for auditing its branded content displayed by merchants and receiving email alerts. The system enables Sensata to check the accuracy of thoroughness of merchants’ content displays. It also checks how long it takes merchants to load fresh content.

“If we push new images out, we can now see how long it takes merchants to load those images,” Thomas says.

Moreover, Sensata can now audit thousands of product pages within a fraction of the time its former manual system required. That helps cut to a couple hours what used to take about two weeks, Thomas says.

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Good content bumps up sales

More importantly, Sensata can also show that freshly loaded content, if done properly, leads to sales increases.

“Once we know content is live, we watch sales trends,” Thomas says. “We know from subsets of data that whoever loads content fast sees a bump in sales.”

Sensata then has data to encourage merchants slow to load content to pick up the pace, he adds.

But some merchants are quicker to change than others, Thomas says. He attributes that partly to “traditional” merchants. Many of them have a history of selling only over a parts store counter or from a vendor truck making the rounds to repair shops.

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“This industry is very slow to adapt to change,” he says.

The recent Content Status survey, he noted, may have served as a “gut check” for some merchants. The study noted that, overall, Amazon and Walmart were most effective at displaying online content. That might be expected, since they are leaders in  ecommerce.

But the study also noted that even the two leaders left room for improvement in product content. That provides wiggle room for others to catch up.

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