ACES and PIES – Data Challenges in the Automotive Aftermarket Industry
One of the main challenges for merchants in the automotive aftermarket industry is handling large volumes of data. There are thousands of vehicles, and millions of replacement parts out there.
And you would think this information should all be standardized and easy to use, right? Well, guess again. Read on to find out what are ACES and PIES, and how merchants are solving the data problem in their businesses.
ACES, PIES, TecDoc, Autocat… if these words give you a headache, you’re probably working in the automotive aftermarket industry. If you’re an independent merchant in the aftermarket parts business, the plot thickens.
You know you have to handle enormous amounts of data, and you have your work cut out for you. Standards are, well, not standardized globally, and there are other challenges involved. Luckily, there are so many businesses in the automotive aftermarket industry, that there are also solutions available to almost every problem you are facing.
But, first things first.
What are ACES and PIES?
ACES and PIES are automotive industry standardized data formats. ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) is used to manage and exchange automotive application (fitment) data.
PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) is used to manage and exchange product (part number) data.
Now, this sounds great, right? If everyone adhered to these standards, it would be pretty easy to manage even the large volumes of data.
However, the reality is different. ACES and PIES data are not an online lookup tool or some kind of a master database of parts or fitment data. And many parts manufacturers are simply not using these standards to the fullest, and often have incomplete data.
The data challenge
Vehicle parts dealers are looking to create easy to use eCommerce websites that will make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for. And they want to automate the purchase process as much as possible.
In addition to this, they would like to reduce the number of returns due to parts not fitting their vehicles. And that, in turn, will also alleviate the pressure on their customer service.
To achieve this, they need to be able to get and manage timely and accurate product information about all the vehicles, parts and parts fitments.
Check out this quick video by TJ Gamble of Jamersan, who lays out the main challenges for automotive aftermarket merchants.
The first one is the data, and the other one, the selection of a proper automotive eCommerce platform that can support large volumes of data and adequate presentation of vehicle fitment options. We’ve covered that in another blog post, so check that one out too.
So, until this whole standardization thing is sorted out (and it probably never will be to the fullest extent), the merchants are faced with having to clean up the data, and map out different databases and information they get from different sources. Or, they can use some of the solutions that handle the cleaning for them.
There are very good, comprehensive databases available for purchase, that promise to solve the data problem.
TecDoc catalogue is one solution that handles this for a lot of workshop owners, parts distributors and even replacement parts manufacturers. It holds more than 75,000 vehicle types, more than 6.5 million items of product data from 700 brands, and it is the largest database for vehicles and parts in the world.
It is also a quality benchmark in the automotive aftermarket industry. So, if you want to handle the most accurate data, you may want to consider getting a hand on this database.
Autocat by MAM Software
A commonly used alternative to TecDoc is Autocat, a solution by MAM Software, an online catalogue of vehicle parts providing direct access to the latest updates from a large number of automotive parts suppliers.
On their website, you can find several videos explaining some of the features available in the latest versions of the software.
Alternatives and next steps
There are always alternatives. And many merchants will rely on some catalogs purchased online in different places. They may want to buy only a catalog for several vehicle brands they work with, or they can try to manage some of their own solutions.
In any case, even when the right data is available, you have another challenge waiting for you. And that is to properly present the data to your customers. You can check out this post about how to select the proper eCommerce solution for automotive aftermarket business.
So, how are you handling the data problem? What databases are you using and how is it working for you? Leave us a comment below and share your experiences.
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Would you like to learn more about how other businesses in your industry are solving these problems? We have something for you.
We’ve gathered our experience and industry knowledge gained over the years of working with merchants in the automotive aftermarket business. And now, we have prepared a useful guide to help you steer your way to success.
Visit this page and download our Automotive Aftermarket eCommerce Success Guide to get started.