Anyone operating in the automotive aftermarket industry will have at least a vague knowledge of ACES and PIES data. Generally speaking, both ACES and PIES are data standards used by auto care industry experts. But while the ACES standard’s role is for managing and exchanging automotive application data, the PIES data standard’s role is to manage and exchange product data. It’s because of these two data standards and fitment data that the auto aftermarket industry is so different from all the rest.
People and businesses operating in the automotive aftermarket industry need to manage the year, make, and model fitment data, as well as other technical specifications for their automotive products. This presents a set of unique challenges in terms of how stakeholders in this industry use and exchange information, warehouse their merchandise, create their websites and auto parts eCommerce catalogs, as well as how they sell their products.
The Aces, Pies Data Standards
Both the Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) and Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) were created by the Auto Care Association (ACA), providing a “common language” for those in the automotive aftermarket industry to communicate and coordinate. In addition, these two data standards are made to be used together, with each providing a different part of the equation. So, for example, when an auto parts retailer looks up a particular component or accessory, they will start by referencing ACES data to determine if that component will fit a specific vehicle. If it does, the retailer will move on to the PIES data and analyze whether that component is able to satisfy all of their exact requirements, such as brand ID, description, auto parts prices, weights, dimensions, UPC, NAFTA, HAZMAT, and more.
By using these information exchange standards, stakeholders can eliminate all the guesswork that goes into ordering the right parts and accessories, as well as manage their catalog applications data and reduce the overall number of fitment application formats and product returns as a result of fitment data issues.
What Are The Problems with ACES and PIES Data?
Every vehicle model is composed of at least several hundred different components. And when we also take into consideration the fact that the average car part or accessory can be compatible with around 32 vehicles, we are dealing with tens of thousands of different possible combinations of vehicle models and compatible spare parts, accessories, and components. Whenever a potential customer is looking for a component for their vehicle, they need to make sure that they match. To complicate matters further, many vehicle owners are unaware of the fact that they are not solely limited to their own car’s brand when choosing an auto part, and they can choose from at least a dozen others. It’s up to the retailers and manufacturers to ensure that customers will be able to find what they are looking for.
However, it’s important to point out that working with ACES and PIES is an ongoing task. The information found in the Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) and Parts Configuration Database (PCdb), which contain all ACES data, are not provided by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The information is gathered by Auto Care Association industry experts who are looking across the internet and various specialized publications. The ACA updates these two databases once per month, meaning that retailers, distributors, and manufacturers in the aftermarket industry will have to ensure that their fitment data is also accurate, validated, and up-to-date. If they don’t,”holes” will appear in their catalogs. And when potential customers are looking up certain components that are tied to these holes, they will no longer be able to find them.
Why Fitment Data Spoils
All aftermarket companies that wish to have a chance in the industry will need to put together and manage an auto parts catalog. This aftermarket catalog will contain all the right product information for their target customers to use. Complete technical specifications and accurate data will not only help to increase sales and improve the customer experience but will also lower the incidence of product returns and improve the catalog’s search rankings in Google and other search engines.
However, as new vehicles and replacement parts are being introduced to the market on a regular basis, the fitment data used to populate your aftermarket catalog has a sort of expiration date. As mentioned previously, the Auto Care Association updates its databases roughly once per month, adding new vehicles and redefining, updating, or removing older models. Additionally, your Original Equipment (OE) fitment pattern will also change with new research, and you will be opening up new trading channels and adding extra data requirements.
To put it differently, the accuracy of your fitment data and your aftermarket catalog has an expiration date, similar to a carton of milk in the refrigerator. If it’s left unattended for long enough, it will “spoil.” Any parts and accessories that are mapped out on any removed or redefined vehicle configurations will be marked as “invalid.” When this happens, potential buyers will not be able to look them up and will turn to your competition.
Avoiding ACES and PIES Data Problems
Managing your ACES and PIES data is an ongoing task. Regular updates and validations are needed to keep your fitment data from spoiling and your inventory from becoming invisible to your customers. What’s worse, with every problem you manage to fix, a new one will pop up. And because of these frequent changes, all auto part websites that have an aftermarket catalog will also need to conduct frequent fitment data checks to ensure that everything is mapped as it should be.
Any company’s fitment records are a critical business asset. Therefore, they need to locate and resolve any existing problems as quickly and as efficiently as possible. To achieve this, companies will have to provide coverage metrics for both vehicles and products. In doing so, they can locate any holes in the aftermarket catalog, without missing any sales opportunities.
A manual approach to fixing these issues is possible. However, tackling each problem one at a time can be extremely time-consuming. What’s more, the majority of business owners don’t have the time, resources, or personnel to do this on an ongoing basis. An auto part management software could help you a great deal in this regard. While such software will not be able to resolve all of the issues related to ACES and PIES data, it will, nevertheless, greatly increase the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of the process.
Evokat Premier is one such online-access, cloud-based catalog management system that will ensure your fitment data will always be properly mapped, updated, and validated. The platform is perfectly capable of initiating complete health checks for both product and catalog applications data. Evokat Premier also has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface that will highlight any existing ACES and PIES problems, as well as provide actionable solutions to these problems.
The automotive catalog solution also has built-in mapping capabilities that provide users with instant feedback on all vehicle configuration, matching them with your own custom-built product attributes. Comprehensive and easy-to-use charts will show all potential market opportunities for adding more relevant information, while also staying in line with your overall coverage goals. Evokat Premier’s testimonials and success stories will highlight all of its other benefits and how it has helped others in tackling their own ACES, PIES aftermarket data issues. For more information, also feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.