On the other hand, we directly supply customers who demand larger quantities or have special requirements. Your products are an excellent addition to our existing portfolio for the maintenance of fleets and industrial plants. Are there regional differences in marketing, demand and communication?
Where the perception of SEG Automotive as a new, yet experienced player among the OE producers is not yet fully established, IKA must first of all position the products as original spare parts; this is especially the case in our African markets. The long-standing presence of our brand GEBE as a brand for original spare parts supports us in this process. In Europe, the general industry know-how is somewhat more advanced; here we compete directly with other OE products in terms of pricing and availability. In order to displace aftermarket substitutes, IKA puts the quality of SEG Automotive products in the foreground of communication. For this purpose, we also provide our distribution partners with technical information and samples.
E-commerce is also a hot topic in the aftermarket. In your opinion, how important are digital trading platforms and direct sales for vehicle parts with a long service life and a rather more complex replacement process like our starter motors and alternators?
We cannot ignore the potential of online sales. The proportion of repair and maintenance work carried out in the DIY sector is quite relevant and online business is growing disproportionately fast compared to stationary retail. It is important to work with the right partners in this segment who are able to build up a sustainable business and have a command of B2C processes. In the price-sensitive online segment, OE products always require explanation, as they are subject to direct price comparison with the substitutes. Attempts to keep up with this price level would inevitably result in cannibalization effects for the existing business in B2B. With branding and good product management, however, relevant market shares can also be captured in the online segment.
The Covid-19 pandemic affects all areas of life. How strong is the impact on the aftermarket business according to your experience so far? Do new trends and requirements emerge?
After the shock of the first lockdowns in March and April 2020, the aftermarket has recovered quite quickly. The provision of spare parts for the repair of vehicles is still a relevant business model, the demand for goods transport and individual mobility is unbroken and could even increase. The expected economic turmoil may lead to new purchases being postponed, the vehicle population ageing and the need for repairs increasing. This is offset somewhat by the limited opportunities for our sales team to expand. With the cancellation of all relevant trade fairs and exhibitions and the limited travel opportunities, we will not be able to maintain close contact with our customers in the usual way. Here, as at numerous other companies, the pandemic was a driver for digitization processes, from video conferencing to the expansion of our B2B platform. In my opinion, these are also developments that will survive the crisis.