Miles driven in the U.S. has been rising annually, and with more rubber hitting the road, tire sales have benefited—particularly in the e-commerce channel. Online dollar sales of tires grew by 34% in the 12 months ending December 2018, according to The NPD Group’s Checkout E-commerce Tracking. The tire category alone outpaced e-commerce growth for the total market of automotive products, which was up 28% for the year.
“Historically, selling tires online was challenging because consumers had to then find somewhere to have them installed. Today, companies are finding creative ways to have tires reach consumers,” says Nathan Shipley, executive director and automotive industry analyst, The NPD Group. “E-commerce partnerships with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are solving for this issue by making both the buying and installing process more convenient for consumers. One tire manufacturer recently unveiled a new store format to take the friction out of the transaction, by allowing consumers to purchase tires and have them installed wherever the consumer wants, including at home or work.”
As the largest automotive category online, tires hold tremendous weight for the industry and accounted for 21% of automotive dollars spent online in 2018. Of all consumers who made an automotive purchase online, 7% purchased tires. Excluding their tire purchase, these consumers spent two-times as much on automotive products online than the average automotive e-commerce buyer. They not only spent more per purchase, but also bought twice as many automotive products during the year.
“Just like the rest of the automotive industry, tires are not immune to the e-commerce trend,” says Shipley. “Disruption is happening everywhere, and manufacturers and retailers are finding new ways to sell the same products. The tire market is a healthy example of how this is working.”