The automotive aftermarket is the business of selling auto body parts, replacement tires, equipment, accessories, and everything else in-between. Companies involved in the manufacturing, distribution, retail, installation, and remanufacturing of vehicle parts and accessories, as well as some repair shops, all operate in the automotive aftermarket industry. With the digitization of the automotive industry and the many technological advancements that come with it, aftermarket sales have emerged as one of the leading trends.
Digital channels are gaining more traction and influence when it comes to customer reach, greatly influencing how they go about buying parts and accessories for their cars. Through eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, or Wal-Mart, online sales have become the dominant means of acquiring the parts customers need. These online channels, as well as many others, provide customers with a quick way of accessing useful information, such as component prices or how those components fit their vehicles.
Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), distributors, and retailers are increasing their online presence to take advantage of the current situation. And in doing so, they’ve begun using auto part catalogs.
Using Auto Part Catalogs
If you have the technical skills and are willing to spend the time to manage this information yourself, there are aftermarket fitment data suppliers who will sell you compatibility catalogs or will charge you a fee to access their own. Amazon or eBay Motors are such examples. However, if your auto parts are not in the catalog, you will need to add the fitment information yourself. There are two ways of doing this. On the one hand, there are catalog fitments, and on the other, there are manual fitments.
- Catalog Fitments – This is where your auto part will be listed and matched against an already-existing catalog entry. All fitment information and all compatible vehicles will be assigned to your car part automatically.
- Manual Fitments – This method involves the online seller overriding the information provided by the marketplace with their own fitment data for that specific component or accessory. Manual fitment integration is also used whenever there is no readily available data in the catalog. This tends to happen with less common, custom-made automotive parts and accessories, or those made by small manufacturers that haven’t had their data added to the catalog yet.
It’s important to remember that an auto parts catalog is not something that you can create once and forget. Fitment data, by its very nature, is fleeting. Every month, the Auto Care Association will update its databases by adding new vehicles or redefining existing ones. Also, any new research will affect your Original Equipment (OE) fitment patterns, as will opening up new trading channels with various partners.
If any of your parts or components are mapped to a vehicle that’s redefined or removed, those components will be marked as invalid in your catalog. When this happens, anyone interested in buying these components will not be able to find them. Commonly known as “holes” in your catalog, these errors could potentially lose you a lot of business. While a vehicle database is an important business asset, it’s only valuable when the fitment data that backs it up is also accurate, up-to-date, and complete.
Everyone in the industry knows that every vehicle out there consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of small components. Keeping track of all of them, as well as the dozens of manufacturers that exist, can make it pretty difficult to ensure that the catalog is accurate. Also, fitment data management is a very time-consuming process, which may make it difficult for you to focus on growing your business.
How to Eliminate These Fitment Data Inaccuracies?
Fitment data is made up of all the details of auto parts that fit any given vehicle. The Auto Care Association is in charge of making sure that all stakeholders in the automotive aftermarket industry are “speaking the same language,” as it were. To do so, it has created two industry standards to make sure that nothing gets lost in translation.
The Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) is an industry standard that deals with information regarding the brand, make, model, year, submodel, engine, transmission, etc. of all North American vehicles. The second industry standard, known as the Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES), covers data details about vehicle parts and accessories that manufacturers and dealers sell on the automotive aftermarket. These can be anything from product descriptions, brand IDs, prices, dimensions, and more. These two standards are used together by those selling vehicle parts in North America to show which vehicles their components fit.
But since new vehicles and new components are introduced to the market on a regular basis, these standards need to be updated. The Auto Care Association does so on a monthly basis. And by extension, anyone who has an auto parts catalog needs to do the same. If they don’t, more and more inaccuracies will appear, and their catalogs will be completely unusable before long.
To remove these inaccuracies, users need to go over their catalogs on a regular basis, updating their information by hand. However, third-party solutions, such as Evokat Premier, can help. As a cloud-based, digital inventory management system, Evokat will not only be able to create these ACES and PIES files on your behalf, but it can also help you manage your monthly updates. The platform will ensure that you are ACES and PIES compliant and will eliminate the need to manually add fitment data to every inventory listing in your catalog. If the situation requires, you can use bulk importing to quickly and easily import and export your entire inventory and ACES XML files.
By making use of its vehicle mapping interface, you can receive immediate feedback on all of your vehicle configurations, ensuring that they are in line with your target attributes and industry standards. The mapping process is also completely configurable, based on your own needs and preferences. If you decide that a simple Year/Make/Model definition will suffice or extra information, like body styles, fuel types, engines, etc., is needed, Evokat Premier will allow you to do so.
If you get your fitment data from third-party suppliers, manufacturers, or other partners, you can also incorporate these external resources into your mapping strategy. Evokat will allow you to create associations between different parts and across multiple catalogs.
Regular and complete health checks of your product data and application in your auto parts catalogs are also needed to identify and resolve any issues that may exist as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Our platform offers easy-to-use dashboards and charts that highlight any trouble areas. Wherever possible, these are also accompanied by clear resolution paths, giving you a clear guide on how to fix these issues.
All of these features will save time and money, and they will increase the speed to market your products. This will help you expand your customer base from people who do their own auto repairs to bigger repair facilities. Accurate and complete fitment data also reduces the total number of lost sales or costly returns. All of these will give you more time to focus on business intelligence, marketing tools to reach more buyers and rank high in search results, customer satisfaction, and becoming 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.