The Rise of e-Commerce Storefronts in the Aviation Aftermarket

As the aviation industry continues to soar, the buying and selling of aircraft parts play a pivotal role in its upward trajectory. Relatively new methods of sourcing parts through exclusive company storefronts are gradually being overshadowed by technological adaptations that strengthen the position of traditional online marketplaces. This evolution offers insight into the future of aircraft parts trading transactions.

The aviation parts industry, comprising manufacturers, suppliers, airlines, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) providers, has witnessed a shift to direct sales through individual vendor e-commerce sites. However, with rapid technological advancements, the landscape is changing, prompting aviation suppliers to reconsider and double down on traditional ways of marketing and selling their products and services through aircraft parts listing services and marketplaces.

The Shift Towards Specialized e-Commerce Storefronts

Aviation suppliers are increasingly interested in optimizing their marketing and sales strategies. They are opting to provide a controlled platform for direct sales through specialized e-commerce storefronts. This shift aims to streamline transactions and enhance customer experiences, enabling repeat buyers to complete purchases directly through the seller’s website and avoid time-consuming communication through email and phone.

Specialized storefronts offer sellers a streamlined workflow compared to online marketplaces, which often suffer from cluttered selling processes due to manually managing numerous inbound RFQs. However, while e-commerce storefronts excel in specific transactions and repeat business, online marketplaces maintain superior market reach and data analytics for sellers and a broader selection and competitive pricing for buyers.

Pros and Cons of e-Commerce Storefronts vs. Online Marketplaces in Aviation

E-commerce platforms provide a unique digital storefront for showcasing specific products and services, facilitating direct interaction and customer relationship-building. In contrast, online marketplaces offer accessibility, convenience, competitive pricing, global reach, and big data.

Marketplaces democratize access to aviation parts, enabling small companies to compete with larger ones. They offer unmatched convenience and access to global inventory, supporting a broader selection of parts and services. Marketplaces provide unparalleled market exposure for sellers to reach a worldwide audience and explore new sales opportunities.

While e-commerce storefronts focus on targeted interactions, marketplaces cater to a broader audience, albeit with heightened competition for sellers.

Evaluating Costs and Benefits of Custom E-Commerce Platforms vs. Online Marketplaces for Aviation Companies

Setting up and maintaining a specialized e-commerce storefront can incur significantly higher costs than membership in an online marketplace. Developing a custom e-commerce platform and the necessary system integrations with in-house inventory systems, checkout technology, and ongoing maintenance can require substantial financial investment.

On the other hand, online marketplaces can offer a built-in customer base and established infrastructure. Joining an online marketplace typically involves a straightforward membership or transaction fee structure, providing a cost-effective way for sellers to quickly access a broad customer base. This cost-effective approach allows sellers to allocate resources to other critical areas of their business while still benefiting from the broad market reach and competitive pricing that online marketplaces provide.

Aviation companies should choose to build a specialized e-commerce storefront when: 

1. Proactive targeting of a niche market: If your products cater to a specific segment of the aviation industry, a specialized storefront allows you to tailor the user experience to meet the unique needs of your customer base.

2. Reinforcing brand identity: A custom e-commerce platform offers sellers more control over branding and customer interaction, allowing them to establish a distinct brand identity and provide a personalized shopping experience.

Aviation companies should join an online marketplace when: 

1. Seeking a proven, cost-effective solution: Leveraging an existing online marketplace can be a more budget-friendly option to minimize initial setup and ongoing maintenance costs.

2. Appealing to a broader customer base: For sellers aiming to reach a wider audience and benefit from an established platform’s built-in traffic and customer base, joining an online marketplace may be the ideal choice.

Revitalizing Online Marketplaces for Aircraft Parts

Online listing services and marketplaces for buying and selling aircraft parts have existed since the early 1990s. But recently, aviation aftermarket companies have increasingly chosen to establish specialized e-commerce storefronts. As a result, are online aircraft parts trading marketplaces becoming a thing of the past?

Managing inbound RFQs and creating customer quotes is a disjointed process for suppliers using online marketplaces. However, an emerging third-party software provider, Ambry Hill Technologies, offers solutions and technologies that use artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize workflows and improve efficiencies across the board. 

Another innovation from Ambry Hill, automatic quoting, enables sellers to respond to inquiries with unprecedented speed. Automating quote creation eliminates manual processes, streamlines procurement, and reduces errors. Adaptive pricing models ensure competitiveness and fairness, allowing sellers to adjust prices in real-time based on market conditions.

Ambry Hill’s Vista-Quote and Vista-Suite Enterprise ERP/MRO software solutions incorporate AI to automate RFQ interpretation and pricing decisions, significantly reducing quote preparation time. Depending on the business strategy, customers utilizing automatic quoting on those platforms experience 50%-80% of their RFQs being auto-quoted.

Thanks to innovations for RFQ and Quote automation found in Vista-Quote and Vista-Suite Enterprise, sellers can list on multiple marketplaces without feeling overwhelmed, marketplaces benefit from the expansion of users, and buyers experience increased response times.

As we look to the future, continuous innovation and integration with emerging technologies will strengthen the position of online marketplaces for aircraft parts and services, ensuring they remain at the forefront.


1. Are traditional aviation parts marketplaces coming to an end with the rise of e-commerce storefronts?

No, traditional marketplaces are not coming to an end. Due to their broad market reach and competitive pricing, they continue to play a vital role, even as some sellers move towards specialized e-commerce storefronts.

2. How do online marketplaces maintain their relevance despite the growing popularity of e-commerce storefronts for aviation parts? 

Online marketplaces maintain relevance by offering unmatched convenience, accessibility, and a broader selection of parts, which are attractive to buyers and sellers worldwide.

3. Are there advantages to sellers in using aviation parts marketplaces?

Yes, wider market exposure and the ability to reach a global audience can lead to increased sales opportunities. Sellers benefit from reduced administrative burdens only if they use advanced RFQ and quoting technologies such as Vista-Quote or Vista-Suite Enterprise (cloud-based ERP and MRO software).

4. What benefits do e-commerce storefronts offer over traditional online marketplaces?

E-commerce storefronts provide a more focused and direct interaction with customers, potentially enhancing relationship-building and offering sellers control over their sales process and customer data.

5. What are the main drawbacks of using e-commerce storefronts to sell aviation parts? 

One main drawback is the potentially limited reach compared to marketplaces, which can affect new customer acquisition and market visibility.

6. Can sellers use both e-commerce storefronts and online marketplaces effectively?

Yes, sellers can use both platforms effectively by leveraging the controlled selling environment of storefronts for established customer relationships while utilizing the broad reach of marketplaces for new customer acquisition and data analysis.

7. What is automatic quoting, and how does it benefit aviation parts sellers?

Automatic quoting uses technology to quickly generate pricing and proposals in response to requests for quotes (RFQs), significantly reducing the time sellers spend on these tasks and allowing them to handle multiple requests more efficiently.

8. How does automatic quoting in Vista-Quote and Vista-Suite Enterprise work?

Automatic quoting streamlines the pricing and sales process by quickly generating quotes based on one’s own market data and inventory levels, significantly reducing manual effort and time.