When you order OEM parts online, you need an exact part, for an exact motorcycle, and you need it exactly yesterday. In this article Partzilla – a major online OEM parts retailer with over three million orders fulfilled – gives you a glimpse behind the scenes to help you understand where OEM parts come from, what causes backorders, how shipping OEM parts “really” works, why your retailer isn’t a big, fat, awful, devious, liar, and what you can do to get your OEM parts shipped to your doorstep as fast as humanly possible.

1. Cut Transit Time by Buying From a Retailer Near You

Before you start shopping, do a little research to see where your online OEM parts retailer is located. For example, if you’re located on the West Coast, buy from someone who has a warehouse on the West Coast rather than waiting for your parts to ship across the country. Partzilla, for example, has two warehouse hubs:  One on the East Coast in Georgia and one on the West Coast in Nevada, so we can get in-stock Partzilla OEM parts shipped to most of the country in 1-3 days.

2. Make Sure You Buy From an Authorized OEM Parts Dealer

There are many online OEM part retailers that are not authorized dealers. Retailers that are not authorized dealers can get you OEM parts, but they have to order out-of-stock parts from someone else; this middleman adds an extra step in the process and can cause additional delays for you. Authorized dealers speed the process up by requesting out-of-stock parts directly from the manufacturer. You’ll also want to be sure you order from an authorized dealer if having parts under manufacturer warranty is important to you. Only authorized dealers can make a warranty claim on a defective part. Partzilla is an authorized dealer for eight manufacturers including Honda, Yamaha, Polaris and Can-Am and has five dealership locations in the United States.

3. Stay Flexible When Estimating the Arrival of your OEM Parts

It is critical when you are buying OEM parts online to set the right expectation for fulfillment time from the get-go. In other words, get Amazon’s magical anything-you-want-in-two-days-no-matter-what fulfillment out of your head. Partzilla OEM parts are available for over 35,000 unique year/make/model vehicle combinations, which means we have millions of unique OEM parts for sale on our website. We are proud to stock over 100,000 unique SKUs at all times (more than anyone else in the industry), and we take care to make sure our in-stock inventory represents approximately 85% of all the parts our global customer base requests. Even with stats like that, each part, down to washers and nuts and gaskets, is so specific to each model, there’s no way any online OEM parts retailer could ever stock every single part available.

So what happens when you order an out of stock part, and how do you know if your part is in stock?

When you select a part that is not in stock, your OEM parts retailer needs to order that part on your behalf from the manufacturer (or from the middleman, if you’re not buying from a resource that is an authorized dealer). Once the manufacturer receives the order, the retailer must wait for Honda (or whomever the manufacturer is) to ship the part to the retailer before the part order can ship to the customer.

Your local dealer has to go through the same process to get the specific OEM part you need and, honestly, so does Amazon– assuming the mega-site even has the specific radiator reserve tank you need listed for sale.

If your part shows a processing time, like “Ships in 1-2 days,” this means the part is not in stock and needs to be ordered from the manufacturer on your behalf.

“Ships in 2-3 days” means the part is not in stock and needs to be ordered on your behalf. Out of stock parts take longer to arrive than in stock parts.

On the other hand, if your part says “IN STOCK” that means the part is in the retailer’s warehouse and ready to be processed and shipped immediately.

When you see “Ships in X days” here’s what you need to understand:

  • If it doesn’t say “In Stock” that part is not in stock and needs to be ordered from the manufacturer.
  • The projected shipping date (“1-2 days”) is an estimate assuming the manufacturer has the part requested in stock.
  • There is no live system that tells any OEM provider what parts the manufacturer actually has in stock at any given moment. Every online OEM parts retailer is making an assumption about how long it should take when they offer a date range for an out-of-stock part. A dealer can’t confirm what is in stock until the part is ordered through the manufacturer’s order processing system.
  • After your retailer orders your part from the manufacturer, the manufacturer provides an estimated ship date for that part. Sometimes the manufacturer will change this estimated arrival date one or more times. Every time the manufacturer pushes the ship date back, a notification is sent to the customer to let him or her know the estimated delivery date for the parts have changed. There is no way to see changes in ETA for out-of-stock parts coming ahead of time.
  • A backorder notice happens if the manufacturer finds the requested part is not in stock. The backorder notice will come with a date estimating when the part or parts should be available. Like any parts ETA from a manufacturer, sometimes the manufacturer changes this date. Sometimes the manufacturer doesn’t have a date so there is no ETA for when we will be able to ship the part. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to avoid this.
  • Until your retailer gets the parts in hand from the manufacturer, delivery time for out of stock parts will always be an estimate that is subject to change.
  • Your local dealer uses the same parts ordering system as your online OEM parts retailer, so ordering from a dealer won’t speed things up. They will find the same parts in stock or backordered.
  • If you order some parts that are in stock and some parts that are out of stock, the out of stock parts can hold up your entire order if you don’t call to request split shipping (see tip #5 below).

4. Remember Nothing Ships on Sunday or Labor Day

Don’t forget that transit time begins after the package ships and doesn’t include weekends or national holidays. So if you order four parts that are all in stock on a Thursday before 4:00pm ET and select Standard Shipping, your order will ship same-day and likely land at your doorstep on Tuesday, not Sunday (transit time for Standard Partzilla shipping is 2-3 days for most of the US). If your parts are not in stock, your transit time will begin after we receive the parts from the manufacturer, as outlined above.

5. Consider Split Shipping Your Order

Whether you pay for shipping at checkout, or your order ships for free (Partzilla shipping is free for orders $149-plus), it’s standard practice for OEM part providers to ship your entire order in one shipment. This means, if you order some parts that are in stock and some parts that are out of stock (“Ships in 1-2 days”), the out of stock parts that need to be requested from the manufacturer can hold up your entire order. To get your in-stock parts right away, call customer service and request split shipping for your order. There is an additional fee for split shipping, but it’s cheaper than placing two separate orders and it will ensure you get your in-stock parts right away.

6. Set Realistic Expectations and Save Cash Buying OEM Parts Online

The main takeaway here: if you’re ordering OEM parts online, flexibility is a requirement, especially if some of the parts you need are not in stock. If you’re working on someone else’s motorcycle, explain that some parts needed to be ordered from the manufacturer and you won’t know exactly when the project will be completed until you are able to get those necessary parts in hand. If you’re working on your own bike, don’t get your hopes up for a weekend rebuild if some of the parts you ordered are not in stock. It usually takes 3-7 business days total for an out of stock part to be delivered to your door, not counting weekend days and national holidays (1-3 days for the part to come from the manufacturer plus 2-4 days for transit time), but unavoidable delays with out of stock parts do happen. To keep things as efficient as possible, remember to order from an online authorized dealer close to you, and consider split shipping!