Today’s automotive eCommerce industry is going through major changes in terms of technological innovation. That, coupled with changing customer experience and expectations and the evermore competitive environment, is changing the way all those operating in the aftermarket automotive industry, such as suppliers, distributors, and aftermarket auto parts sellers, are doing business and generating value. It’s important to keep in mind that the automotive aftermarket is currently valued at around $400 billion.
However, when it comes to selling auto parts online, it’s important to keep in mind that you will need fitment data in order for your customers to find the right auto parts and accessories they are looking for. To put it simply, fitment data can provide a simple year/make/model lookup or something more complex that includes elements such as the type of engine, submodel, trim, fuel type, and other such relevant information.
This is critical since the overwhelming majority of auto parts are compatible with dozens, if not hundreds of vehicles. As such, the fitment data that goes alongside it will have to be clear, complete, and, above all, accurate. Otherwise, you may be missing out on potential sales down the line. Ensuring a high level of fitment data accuracy is what managing an auto parts catalog is all about. However, before we can go into the details of auto parts catalog management, we need to take a closer look at the leading automotive aftermarket standards and how they play a big role in fitment data formatting.
What Are the ACES and PIES Standards?
The Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) and Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) were created by the Auto Care Association (ACA), formerly known as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), as a means of helping those in the industry better communicate and coordinate with each other. ACES and PIES are made to be used together as a means of managing and exchanging fitment data and part numbers between partners and customers, as well as provide a universal guideline for all stakeholders involved.
- ACES Product Data – This is used to manage and exchange fitment data. Retailers and manufacturers can use this industry standard to send and receive auto part information based on year, make, model, part type, etc. The ACES standard will also include information regarding part number and type, brand, and more, as well as the exact position on the vehicle where the component fits in. Other parts of the ACES data are the Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) and the Parts Configuration Database (PCdb). These two databases hold most vehicle models in North America as well as the replacement parts, service items, and supplies that are part of the automotive aftermarket industry.
- PIES Product Data – This is used to manage and exchange auto part and accessory data such as part numbers. It holds over 20,000 product types across more than 180 different data elements and 25 categories. These files include data on various product attributes, as well as other item specifics, such as weights, dimensions, prices, kits, marketing content, brand IDs, countries of origin, UPC codes, and more.
ACES and PIES are made to be used together. Online store owners, warehouse managers, and auto part buyers, among others, will first reference ACES data to determine if a part will fit their desired vehicle. If it does, they will turn to PIES data to cross-reference the information and determine if that part or accessory will be able to satisfy all of their needs. In doing so, they will be able to eliminate all the guesswork that goes into ordering auto parts, reduce the number of product returns, and reduce the total number of fitment application formats.
Managing Your Auto Parts Catalog
Managing all of this data effectively is a complex and time-consuming process. We should also point out that it’s an ongoing process that needs to be maintained. Evokat Premier is a cloud-based tool and catalog management solution specifically designed for auto parts sellers and manufacturers to sell car parts online. It’s a very flexible solution created to help online auto store owners provide enhanced sets of data to their customers by managing all disparate requests from a single dashboard.
Being powered by the latest versions of ACA’s databases, Evokat Premier will make all the necessary information immediately available to you. The platform’s vehicle mapping interface will issue immediate feedback to all users on all vehicle configurations that are in line with both the ACES and PIES standards, as well as your target attributes.
By using Evokat Premier, you will have a wide range of configurations when it comes to vehicle mapping. You can choose the simple Year/Make/Model definition or add more information as needed. Depending on the circumstances, you may also want to create associations between different components or across multiple catalogs. This means that you can add any external resources into your mapping process, particularly if you are working closely with suppliers and manufacturers.
Beware of Spoiling Data
When it comes to ACES information and fitment data, it’s imperative to keep in mind that all this information is compared against specific point-in-time vehicle configurations. As new vehicles and components are introduced onto the market, these vehicle configurations change and are updated. If you don’t manage your catalog on a regular basis, it will only be a matter of time before your fitment data begins to “spoil.” As the ACA updates its databases once a month, you will also have to make sure that your own catalog’s information is accurate and up-to-date.
If you have auto parts and accessories mapped on removed vehicles, they will appear as Invalid. This means that they will no longer be visible to potential customers looking through your catalog. To prevent these “holes” in your fitment data, you will need to map it to the new vehicle records on a monthly basis. Having clean fitment data is essential for your auto parts eCommerce website to operate at peak efficiency.
Nevertheless, changing individual records may not always be possible or advisable. In these types of situations, you will be able to use Evokat Premier to make bulk changes to your catalog. You will be able to change, add, or update vehicle definitions and product data, all the while receiving quality checks every step of the way.
You will also need to conduct regular health checks to make sure that your catalog is viable and up-to-date. You can do this with Evokat Premier by initiating complete health checks on both your product data and application, immediately identifying and resolving existing problems. You can also use the platform’s existing report format library to have complete visibility over your content.
To put it simply, Evokat Premier is an online access cloud-based solution that allows its users to tackle many of the challenges that go into selling auto parts and manage their fitment data from anywhere they have an internet connection. That said, not all auto part business owners have the time to do it themselves or the resources to hire someone to maintain this data on their behalf.
If you find yourself in this situation, know that Illumaware also provides you with catalog management services for your auto parts store and will do this work for you. Whether you’re already selling your auto parts online or have business plans to start an auto parts and accessories online store, feel free to contact us today to learn more about starting and managing your own auto parts catalog.