Microsoft Excel and similar spreadsheet tools are handy for compiling and organizing data. However, they are not the best solutions for ACES and PIES. Spreadsheets can be riddled with errors and inaccuracies, even if they are populated through copy and paste functions.
Instead of trying to make sense of your ACES and PIES data via unreliable spreadsheets, a Product Information Management (PIM) system is an easier, simpler, and a lot more efficient way of managing your information. PIM is rapidly becoming irreplaceable in the automotive aftermarket industry because it standardizes data on one platform and represents “one source of truth.”
By investing in PIM software, you will no longer feel overwhelmed with dozens of different tables and documents. Everything will be neatly stored in one place, where you can access it with only a couple of clicks.
Here’s the breakdown of ACES and PIES and why you should consider PIM to modernize your auto parts business.
ACES and PIES Explained
An online car parts store cannot function without in-depth fitment data or information about the parts it’s offering. Extensive and accurate fitment data provides consumers with the best shopping experience – they won’t be compelled to check what your competitors have in store if they quickly find what they need on your website.
Keeping your fitment database up to date is a time-consuming and laborious process. Fortunately, auto standards in ACES and PIES help sellers and manufacturers provide their product data in a uniform, cohesive way.
ACES stands for Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard. Essentially, it is a list of vehicles that appear in a standardized YMME (year, make, model, engine) format. Aftermarket resellers (retailers and distributors) widely use the ACES standard as the foundation for part-to-vehicle selection. It defines vehicle configurations for light-duty on-road vehicles (motorcycles, pickup trucks, and cars).
PIES is a similar standard. The acronym means Product Information Exchange Standard. It is broader than ACES, also encompassing heavy-duty vehicles (trucks), off-road vehicles, and similar. It is useful for suppliers of all products, while ACES is convenient for auto parts stores that provide components only for light-duty vehicles. Both ACES and PIES come in the form of XML files which contain a variety of information, such as product size, price, brand, UPC, country of origin, and more.
The two major auto parts eCommerce platforms, Amazon and eBay Motors are compliant with ACES and PIES standards. They don’t accept fitment data from their suppliers that aren’t in line with these standards.
What Does PIM Mean?
Product Information Management (PIM) is a business practice not strictly tied to the automotive industry. In general, it helps organizations manage information related to their products for marketing and sales. Product information is consolidated regardless of whether it comes from an internal or external source. This information can include:
- Product metadata
- Rich media
- Technical specifications
- Digital assets
- Product lifecycle information
- Product specifications and more
A PIM platform enables businesses to be more compliant, consistent, and efficient. Their product information can seamlessly flow from the manufacturer through the supply chain to the market and finally into the consumer’s hands.
Main PIM Features
If you decide to obtain a PIM software platform for your aftermarket product business, there are a variety of features you can expect.
- Data Management
As mentioned above, the main disadvantage of spreadsheets is that there are many of them. Business owners and their internal teams can have a hard time following which data is current and accurate and which is obsolete. Where even is that one table they started compiling yesterday, and now they can’t find it anywhere?
PIM software is superior for product management in this sense because it consolidates all data in one place – a “single source of truth” as it is known in the IT world. Having multiple sources of data and getting lost in them is a thing of the past. PIM consolidation on a single platform leads to increased accuracy, quality, consistency, and completeness of your product data.
- Data Integration
While running an online vehicle parts business, you expect to receive data from a multitude of sources. These sources can be external (online storefronts, mobile apps, suppliers, etc.) and internal (hard drives, internal systems, and applications). Handling all of them independently can quickly become confusing, even for the most skilled product managers.
PIM software allows for the integration of different product information sources. This means that all of your data will be stored in one place, a centralized platform, no matter where it comes from. It enables more efficient data tracking and faster response times if an issue needs to be addressed.
A PIM solution can be tailored to fit your needs. It doesn’t matter if you only want to keep track of your existing processes or want to expand your business – a PIM system can be customized to keep up with your business goals effortlessly. Even the user interface can be adjusted to provide the best experience for you and your employees. Customization will also aid in the management and import and export of high-quality data.
Lastly, you will no longer waste time performing repetitive tasks and validating your work by hand. PIM software offers a level of automation that will free up your schedule for other, more critical tasks. It can help with performing bulk activities, validating work in one click, and tracking task completion.
Automation saves time and allows you to relocate your resources where they’re needed more. PIM software streamlines your processes and drastically increases efficiency and productivity.
Should You Invest in a PIM Solution?
Every business is different. If you’re starting out, perhaps you don’t require an all-encompassing, integrated software solution that manages several different aspects of your business at the same time. Maybe you’re still okay with using Excel (or Google) spreadsheets and can hold your own with managing your ACES and PIES data.
However, your business will expand sooner or later. You will add more items to your product catalog, expand to other automotive eCommerce platforms, and perhaps even hire more employees to help you manage daily operations. Trying to keep up with all the ACES and PIES updates might quickly become a seemingly impossible task.
Product Information Management solutions help larger businesses launch new products, offer better data governance, enhance the customer experience, and lead them to higher revenue growth. The fact is that, without automation and an integrated system that will eliminate the chance of errors and data inaccuracies, your store cannot hope to thrive and succeed.
Even if you don’t need a PIM application yet, you should consider it for the future.
Standardizing your fitment data according to ACES and PIES is non-negotiable. Regardless of whether you’re selling on Amazon, eBay Motors, or your website (or a combination of all three) – all your automotive product data should be synchronized with the industry standards. This will make it easier for you, your suppliers, and your customers.
Since this synchronization can be difficult to achieve manually, implementing a Product Information Management (PIM) software solution is an excellent alternative. PIM software allows for easy data management, integration of external and internal data, customization, and automation. It will speed up your processes, help you and your employees save time, and improve the overall customer experience.
You may feel like you don’t need a PIM solution just yet – and that’s okay. However, don’t forget that your business will grow. If you feel like you’re becoming overwhelmed with all the spreadsheets and conventional forms of data tracking, perhaps it’s time to consider PIM.
If you’d like to know more about this useful tool, don’t hesitate to contact Illumaware. Our software solutions are developed specifically for the car part industry and offer a variety of features your business could take advantage of.