Companies across the automotive aftermarket industry are facing a similar challenge. Increased data requirements, as well as unique marketing demands, have made the automotive eCommerce business a highly complex and dynamic industry. As such, an increasing number of auto part manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are looking for an integrated solution that will help them drive more opportunities, streamline communications, improve customer experience, increase sales, and stay ahead of the competition.
In today’s increasingly technological and digitized business environment, online shopping has become more common and widespread. The current COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated this trend. Online shopping is not only easier and more convenient, but it also allows consumers to read product reviews and compare prices set by established businesses. Shopping over the digital environment also allows for a wider product selection and a better opportunity to find the best deals on the market.
Statistics indicate that by 2021, there will be over 2.14 billion people making at least one online purchase during the calendar year. In addition, the automotive aftermarket industry is expected to reach $722.8 billion by the end of 2020, while digitally-influenced sales in the auto care industry are expected to surpass $162.4 billion. Nevertheless, simply focusing on online sales will not guarantee any level of success. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that it’s in each automotive aftermarket retailer’s best interest to invest in automotive eCommerce, data management solutions, and ACES and PIES software to satisfy their needs and gain a competitive advantage.
Why Use an ACES and PIES Mapping Software?
To better understand the purpose of such data management systems, it’s first important to understand the role of the ACES and PIES data standards. Formerly known as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), the Auto Care Association (ACA) has created the ACES and PIES standards to help with searches and lookups, as well as managing and exchanging fitment data between channel partners and customers. The industry standards are also used as a universal “language” in coded form, making it possible for every trading partner within the supply chain to understand each other.
The Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) houses vehicle configuration information about North American vehicles. The Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) tackles automotive product data on various aftermarket auto parts and accessories sold on the automotive aftermarket.
Unlike other business sectors, the aftermarket auto care industry operates on fitment data. This data is used by both channel partners and potential buyers in their searches and lookups, ensuring that the parts and accessories will be compatible with specific vehicles. As such, every automotive eCommerce company handling automotive products will require such ACES and PIES management solutions. Otherwise, people will not be able to find what they are looking for in their aftermarket catalog.
Also known as compatibility information, fitment data contains useful product information and vehicle configuration such as the year, make, and model of the vehicle as well as other relevant component data, like overall description, auto parts prices, weights, dimensions, kits, UPC, NAFTA, HAZMAT, brand ID, and more. If the product information is not accurate or complete, companies are not only risking their customers not being able to find what they are looking for but are also risking selling the wrong parts.
This can result in an increased number of product returns, customer complaints, and a negative impact on your brand’s reputation. Numerous missed sales opportunities is also a given. Making sure that an aftermarket catalog’s fitment data is up-to-date is of the utmost importance. However, this may be easier said than done. It should be noted that the ACES and PIES industry standards are changing fairly regularly. About once per month, the Auto Care Association is updating its Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) and Parts Configuration Database (PCdb) to include new components that enter the market and update or eliminate various vehicle configurations. Businesses in the auto care industry will also need to keep up with these changes.
However, simply setting up an aftermarket catalog and database is not a one-time affair. If the fitment data does not match the new changes and vehicle configurations, “holes” will start to appear. These holes will prevent customers and trading partners from finding what they are looking for.
Amazon and eBay Motors have master vehicle lists that are updated periodically. Any users that have products listed on these platforms will be able to review any changes that are made to the fitment information for any specific vehicle make and/or model. But while these online retail platforms have data management systems, the process of adding or updating fitment data still needs to be done manually. And even adding just several ftiment records to a single listing can be quite a labor-intensive and time-consuming process.
It will also be hard to keep track of all other changes taking place throughout your entire inventory. This is why aftermarket businesses need their own ACES and PIES data management solutions to ensure their compliance and increase the visibility of their aftermarket catalog. Such data management systems can also help with fitment data bulk importing and exporting, instead of having to add or update each individual listing.
What Can An ACES and PIES Software Do?
While there are several such catalog systems available on the market, Illumaware’s Evokat Premier has several features that put it above the competition. As an online access, cloud-based solution, Evokat is specifically designed for users who need customizable reporting and authoring capabilities. It also helps manage all disparate requests from a single platform. In addition, the ACES and PIES data solution provides its users with the latest ACA database versions, as well as a live catalog mapping interface. This interface provides instant feedback on all vehicle configurations that match with your target attributes. You can also initiate complete health checks on your application and product data, as well as actionable solutions on how to resolve any issues that may exist.
Probably the most important feature of Evokat Premier is that it will continuously evaluate your vehicle configuration database and compare it to the new ACES and PIES standards as they are being updated every month. This way, you will ensure that there will not be any holes in your catalog’s fitment data. In most cases, the platform will issue clear resolutions to the problems. You will also be able to completely configure the catalog mapping process, adding various product information as needed.
By using this data management solution, you will not only reduce the incidence of data entry errors but also significantly reduce the risk of product returns as a result of those errors. In addition, you will be able to greatly streamline your communications with your channel partners and customers. And since Evokat Premier takes into account your company’s branding requirements, you will be able to add any PIES data brand-specific overrides and specific ACES fitment note targeting. This feature greatly increases your flexibility in terms of tailoring your product data to suit your trading partners’ specific data demands and private label requirements.
It’s also important to mention that the Evokat solution provides enhanced data security to its users, ensuring that all information is safe from cyberattacks. Some security features include multi-factor authentication, antivirus and anti-malware protection, VPN, HIPAA and PCI DSS compliance, access control lists, and more. To put it simply, a catalog mapping software will help your business thrive in today’s highly competitive business environment. If you want to know more about what the Illumaware LLC Evokat Premier catalog system has to offer to your auto parts catalog, contact us at your earliest convenience.