My partners and I are building a site which provides a unique way for merchants to acquire new customers.
To guide the development of our initial pricing strategy, we are looking for some benchmarks for typical customer acquisition costs for various retail segments like tire shops, auto-repair shops, widget retailers, etc.
Thanks in advance to all for your wisdom and advice.
Sounds like you need to talk to your potential customers!
You should be able to ask some tire shops and auto repair shop owners.
If they won't talk to you, it will be hard to sell them later. Anyway you'll want a handful of initial customers who are willing to entertain new ideas and try them out.
I think you're going to have a problem locating exact information on these costs.
Here is an article that talks about defining cac and the ltv (lifetime value - i.e. the ability to monetize those customer).
They have a good cac example showing adwords - perhaps this would be a good framework to consider.
They make a good point on how much the human touch adds to the equation: they posit it varies from $400 to $5000, depending on the approach used.