Vauxhall has already indicated the profitability of selling car accessories online, where shoppers can list the items they want to purchase and then get in touch with a relevant dealer. But a recent study of the Castrol, Duckhams, BP, Esso, Mobil, Total and Shell websites suggests lubricant suppliers have failed to seize opportunities for online promotions.
The study included a simple 'retail tick list' for each website. The list covered details such as links to dealers, availability of price information, type of lubricant stocked, promotional information such as discounts and transaction facilities.
After browsing each site, only Duckhams' included links to dealers. Visitors can use a 'store locator' function by typing in their postcode and pressing 'enter'. The tool searches for local lubricant stockists and shows details of the retailer's name and address.
The rest of the sites failed to fulfil any of the study's criteria. Dealers and manufacturers are investing heavily in online technologies to respond to a growing online population. As yet, it appears that lubricant suppliers have not even switched on to the idea of the internet as a retail channel.