With the COVID-19 pandemic raging all around the world, the global auto sales market is in freefall. IHS Markit forecasts that in 2020 auto sales will plummet by 22% around the world. The United States and the rest of North America are set to lead the global decline with a 26.6% fall in domestic vehicle sales. However, the automotive aftermarket doesn’t show the same signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s expected that the entire sector will reach $433 billion by 2021 according to the latest industry news.
In terms of online auto parts and accessories sales, we can expect $19 billion in sales by 2022. Digitally influenced sales in the auto market parts sector are also predicted to increase by as much as $162.4 billion by the same year. With these numbers seeing such a high increase, it’s clear that the sector will offer plenty of opportunities to those who are looking to sell auto parts online. However, just because the automotive aftermarket is growing, this alone does not guarantee high returns.
Whether your consumers are independent repair shops, individuals who maintain their own cars, or big auto repair facilities, selling auto parts online is not the same as with other products. Every auto parts eCommerce business needs to be backed up by a strong business plan with a comprehensive fitment data management system. Without clear, accurate, and complete fitment data, customers will not be able to find what they are looking for. Whenever a person looks up a component or an accessory for their Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, or Nissan Altima, they need to make sure that it will fit their vehicle. This is what fitment data is all about.
Since the majority of auto parts are compatible with dozens of vehicles, the fitment data used on an auto part catalog also needs to incorporate everything from the year, make, and model of the vehicle, as well as other relevant pieces of information for each individual component. This may include things like the submodel, trim, engine, and more. In addition, this compatibility data needs to be clear, complete, and, above all, accurate.
It’s important to realize that auto parts catalogs help all aftermarket suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and others in the automotive eCommerce market reach their customer base and sell car parts online. These catalogs are also incredibly useful for those selling online on eCommerce platforms like eBay Motors, Amazon, or through their own website. If the auto parts catalogs on your sales channel have out-of-date fitment data, there will be several negative consequences.
The Importance of Fitment Data Accuracy
Regardless of whether you are selling aftermarket car parts and accessories, OEM replacement parts, agriculture, or Powersports products, fitment is of the utmost importance when it comes to auto part sales and your online listings. Fitment, also known as compatibility data, makes it possible for your customer base to determine if your parts will actually fit their vehicle. Therefore, having interested customers coming onto your online auto parts catalog is only half the battle.
Your success depends on whether the potential customer can find what they are looking for. A fitment data management system does this automatically. However, it needs to be regularly maintained and updated, or your components will no longer be visible to your buyers. It’s important to know that fitment data is governed by two leading standards in the automotive industry. These are the Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) and Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES). Both are created and managed by the Auto Care Association.
- ACES Product Data – is the North American industry standard used to manage and exchange automotive catalog application data. Manufacturers, retailers, distributors, etc. can send and receive this information in the form of brand, part number, part type, etc., alongside application fitment data, such as make, model, submodel, year, transmission, truck bed length, and more.
- PIES Product Data – is used to manage and exchange part number information. It also standardizes all field definitions and requirements, alongside the delivery mechanism used to transfer product-specific information between all members of a supply chain. This data can include things such as interchanges, pricing, product attributes, kits, digital assets, marketing content, and more.
These two standards are used together, not only to manage and exchange part numbers and fitment information but also to provide a universal guideline for everyone who is using them. Be it shop owners, suppliers, warehouse managers, or other auto part customers, they all use the ACES product data to determine if a part or accessory will fit their vehicle. Once this is established, they will move to the PIES data to see if that component will satisfy all of their needs. This will also include image identification.
Using both ACES and PIES data simultaneously will eliminate much of the guesswork that would otherwise occur when ordering auto parts from an online store. Whenever someone searches for a specific part, fitment data will automatically display all of the compatible parts that you have in your inventory. Not only will this eliminate any doubts about whether a component will fit the intended vehicle, but it will also improve the customer experience.
Keep in mind that the average car part is compatible with around three dozen vehicles at any given time. If your auto parts catalog and its fitment data are not accurate and complete, you will be missing out on potential sales and happy customers. For example, if you have a potential buyer looking to buy a part for their Honda Accord, but the component you have in your inventory doesn’t mention it, you will miss out on that sale. Many customers are not aware that the parts they need may also be compatible with other car brands, and that they don’t need to purchase auto parts based strictly on the brand. As such, they will most likely not buy it if they don’t think it will work for them.
Confirming to your customers that the part actually fits will not only increase sales growth rates, buyer confidence, and customer satisfaction, but it will also reduce the risk of costly returns, angry phone calls, shopping cart abandonment, and bad reviews. In addition, clear and accurate information in your catalog will also help your listings appear higher in Google’s search results, boosting your visibility, potentially exposing your brand to millions of customers, and getting them to visit your website. Using both ACES and PIES data is, without a doubt, the best way to grow your business. The key, however, is to keep that data accurate and the total number of potential errors at an absolute minimum.
Optimize Your Auto Parts Catalog with Evokat Premier
Having an auto parts catalog is the first step to your sales plan, and optimizing it for accuracy is the second. However, between inventory management, monitoring department sales and profit margins, finding time to optimize your auto parts catalog on a regular basis is easier said than done. Even authoring automotive catalogs can be described as trying to hit a moving target. Every month, the Auto Care Association updates its databases, adding new vehicles and redefining existing ones. Similarly, new research changes existing OE fitment patterns, while additional data requirements are being added as a result of opening new trading channels.
Because of these numerous and frequent changes, regular health checks of your fitment data are necessary to ensure the viability of your catalog and, by extension, your spare parts business website, particularly if you cater to an international market. It may seem like every time you solve a sales management problem, a new one pops up. Evokat Premier is an online access, cloud-based solution that allows you to initiate complete health checks on both your product and application data. Its intuitive interface will also help you locate and resolve any issues found, without any hassle. These issues are grouped in terms of their level of severity, while resolution paths are provided to bring your data back in line with Auto Care Association standards as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
The platform also has a built-in, live mapping interface that provides instant feedback, showcasing all vehicle configurations that match your target set of attributes. For reference purposes, the InSight Archives will also provide you with visibility on past and present releases. Evokat Premier also leverages easy-to-use charts that illustrate opportunities where you can add data that is in line with your coverage goals. If you want to learn more about what Evokat Premier has to offer to your auto parts catalog, contact us today, and you will see your online sales improve almost immediately.