The automotive aftermarket industry revolves around the manufacture and retail of all various auto body parts, equipment, services, OEM replacements, auto parts, and accessories. Businesses involved in the distribution, manufacturing, retail, installation and repair of vehicle parts and accessories operate within the auto aftermarket industry. However, with the increased digitization of the automotive industry, the many technological innovations and the skyrocketing rise of eCommerce have pushed aftermarket sales to become one of the industry’s leading trends.
As digital channels are becoming more influential with today’s consumers, they have a tremendous influence on how people go about buying and selling auto parts and accessories for their vehicles. By using eCommerce stores and platforms like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and eBay Motors, car parts’ online sales have become the primary means of making sales in the automotive parts business. These eCommerce platforms help a great deal with customers’ experience as they provide buyers with a quick and effective way of accessing useful information, in the form of prices, and how those components fit with their desired vehicles.
The majority of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), retailers, distributors, and suppliers are looking to increase their presence in the eCommerce market to take advantage of the current trends. And one of the primary ways of doing this is by using auto part catalogs.
How to Use Auto Part Catalogs
Some business owners that are tech-savvy and possess the necessary know-how would be willing to spend their time and energy to manage the fitment data by themselves. Some eCommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay Motors will also sell their own compatibility catalogs or charge a fee for users to access their own. The downside of this strategy is that you will still have to add the fitment data yourself if your auto parts are not part of those specific catalogs.
Users have, basically, two options when it comes to adding fitment data. On the one hand, they have catalog fitments. This is where auto parts and accessories will be listed and matched against already-existing entries in the catalog. All of the fitment data and compatible vehicles will be automatically assigned to auto parts. Manual fitments, on the other hand, have the user overriding the information provided by the marketplace with their own fitment information. This form of manual fitment integration will also be used when there is no available information in the catalog. This, however, tends to be rare, as it typically applies to custom-made parts and accessories or those made by small manufacturers that haven’t had their data added to the catalog.
It’s also important to take into consideration the fact that maintaining the accuracy of auto parts catalogs is an ongoing task. Fitment data will change constantly. What this means is that the new vehicle configurations are being added to the market on a regular basis, while others are being reconfigured. Similarly, any new research will affect your original equipment fitment patterns, as well as when you open up new trading channels with partners.
Whenever your catalog listings are mapped to vehicle configurations that have since been redefined or removed, your auto parts and accessories will appear as “invalid” in the catalog. This means that the new vehicle configurations are being added to the market on a regular basis, while others are being reconfigured. Basically, these are mapping errors that can translate into numerous missed sales opportunities.
So, no matter if you’re selling aftermarket car parts, OEM replacement components, marine, agriculture, or Powersports products, properly mapped and validated fitment data in your auto parts catalogs and eCommerce website will be essential to ensure that your business is thriving. Businesses will need to ensure that their fitment data is up-to-date and that their customers will be able to find their catalog listings to increase sales and remain competitive in the auto parts market. Otherwise, they all risk their customer base going to their competition, which is only a few clicks away in the digital age.
Eliminating Auto Parts Catalog Inaccuracies
A vehicle database is a critical business asset for any business in the automotive aftermarket industry. That said, the database and its fitment information are only valuable if they are up-to-date, accurate, and complete. Most stakeholders in the industry are well aware that vehicles are comprised of thousands of small components. And keeping track of all of them and how they work with each other, as well as all the many manufacturers that produce them, is next to impossible. As mentioned earlier, fitment data management is also a time and energy-consuming process. All of this makes it incredibly difficult for business owners to focus on anything else.
To better understand how to streamline the process of eliminating inaccuracies in auto parts catalogs, is to understand what fitment data is. To put it simply, fitment data is compatibility information that’s made up of all the details of auto parts in regards to the vehicle configurations that they can fit. The Auto Care Association (ACA) is the organization that’s in charge of the industry standards that help keep all those in the industry working with the same type of data.
In short, these two industry standards are the Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) and the Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES). While the first deals mostly with information like make, model, year, brand, submodel, engine, transmission, etc., of all vehicles in North America, the second industry standard covers data relating to auto parts and accessories. This information includes everything from prices, dimensions, brand IDs, product descriptions, and more. By using these two data standards together, those selling auto parts in North America will be able to tell which components will fit which vehicles.
Yet, new vehicles and components are introduced on the market on a regular basis. As a consequence, the ACES and PIES standards will need to be updated by the ACA on a monthly basis. When this happens, auto parts catalogs need to have their data made to match. If they won’t inaccuracies will begin to appear, and the catalogs will have more and more holes. To remove these inaccuracies from their catalogs, businesses will need to go over their fitment data and update it wherever this is needed. The problem with this is that this is easier said than done. Luckily, there are some tools that you can use to help you in this regard.
How Evokat Premier Keeps an Accurate Auto Parts Catalog
A third-party, cloud-based, digital inventory management system like Evokat Premier will be able to significantly reduce the time and energy needed to keep your auto parts catalog in pristine condition. The tools will ensure that your fitment data will constantly be ACES and PIES compliant and eliminate the need to manually add the new information to every inventory listing in your catalog. If the situation calls for it, you can also use Evokat Premier to import listings in bulk, and import and export your entire inventory and ACES XML files.
Thanks to its highly intuitive and user-friendly mapping interface, you will receive immediate feedback on all vehicle configurations. This will ensure that you will always be in line with the industry standards. The mapping process itself is also completely configurable and will be based on your needs and preferences. It can be as simple as a Year/Make/Model definition or can add additional data in terms of fuel types, engines, body style, and more. Regular and thorough health checks of your application and product data are also needed to quickly identify and resolve any issues. Evokat Premier will perform these health checks, highlight any trouble areas, and provide solutions with clear resolution paths on how to fix them.
All of these features and benefits will give you more time to focus on business intelligence and digital marketing strategy to reach more buyers and rank high on the search engines’ results page. It will help you improve customers’ experience and satisfaction, not to mention help you become a top-rated seller. Illumaware also provides catalog management services for those business owners that don’t have the time to do this themselves. If you want to learn more about our offer, feel free to contact us directly or schedule a live demo at your convenience.