Did you know that the average car part is compatible with approximately 32 different vehicles? Those in the online auto parts business know that selling auto parts online can be challenging, mainly because of the wrangling of auto part data. Do you want to start an online auto parts store? Do you want to sell auto parts online and make a living off of it? Learning how to use a website builder (or having an expert build your auto parts site), launching a store, conducting market research, finding ways to market your auto parts store, tracking users’ activity, learning about online marketing for auto parts, and learning how to launch a successful Facebook Ad will all be fruitless if your database is not properly created and well-maintained.
All efforts will be in vain because, in the online aftermarket parts industry, product data is complex, continually changing, and requires extensive expertise. Some even say that creating and managing product databases is the most challenging part of selling parts online. Without this element, your optimized landing pages and efficient shopping cart software won’t help you maximize your online sales.
Why is Auto Part Data So Challenging to Work With?
Auto part data is challenging to work with because of its complexity and quantity. Automotive eCommerce websites have to manage standard product data such as:
- Brand name
- Manufacturer part number
- Category or part type (engine, alternator, rear light, LED light, etc.)
- Weight and dimensions
- Product specification, images, and description
- Install instructions and warranty info
- Pricing data
However, things get more complicated with auto parts because shoppers want to find a specific part by model, make, and year, which is why auto part sellers need to add fitment information. This information tells them whether the part fits (this can be engine or trim level specific info). Unlike other products one could buy online, auto parts must be specified with fitment data to know whether they fit the intended vehicle. Since one part can fit a wide range of cars, including accurate, complete, and clear fitment data will help you reach all online shoppers who are looking for a certain part but may not realize that there is an alternative part that also fits their vehicle.
Auto parts fitment/compatibility data can be complex for each part – it can vary by transmission type, engine size, vehicle trim level, etc. It can also change by model year, and it is common for an auto part to have hundreds of pieces of fitment data that go along with all the other information. Most online auto part shoppers have come to expect this kind of lookup system, which makes fitment data essential.
Where Does the Fitment Data Come From?
Fitment data for your auto parts database can come from different places, such as:
- Trusted vehicle or auto part catalogs. This option is feasible for small auto parts retailers who sell a limited number of products, but it is not feasible for retailers with lots of products. Also, if you don’t have the time to maintain your database, this is not the best option for you. Auto parts databases need to be updated regularly to keep them complete and accurate.
- You can get data by requesting it directly from the manufacturer. However, providing data to retailers is falling out of favor.
- The Auto Care Association. The Auto Care Association created the Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) – the data standard for exchanging, mapping, and managing auto part catalog applications. The standard includes part types, year, make, model, item specifics, and other catalog applications. You can use the ACES file (which comes in an XML format with one file per brand) only after paying a subscription fee to the Auto Care Association. Besides ACES, another important industry standard is the Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES).
- Third-party software. There are database and eCommerce software solutions for auto parts retailers that allow them to create a database and have it automatically updated with the latest fitment data. Software such as myFitment helps reduce the time and effort needed to add a single listing manually – it creates ACES and PIES files for you and automatically imports fitment information in bulk).
ACES and PIES – The Automotive Industry Standard
ACES and PIES are the two leading industry standards that auto part retailers should follow when creating their databases and formatting fitment data.
ACES is the data standard for the management and communication of fitment data for light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as off-highway, powersports, and equipment. It allows auto parts retailers to communicate product information to trading partners and customers by utilizing several supporting relational databases that contain codified, standardized data and database design – brands, product classifications, vehicle and equipment attributes, and more.
ACES data is divided into two databases – VCdb (Vehicle Configuration Database) and PCdb (Parts Configuration Database). The VCdb database contains approximately 60,000 combinations of the model, make, and year for vehicles from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The PCdb database contains a list of all part categories and types, including replacement parts, service items, and other items typically sold in an aftermarket business or auto parts websites. This database makes it easier for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers to put together their online automotive catalog. Vehicle owners can use it to compare the parts they need for their automobiles.
PIES is used to exchange and manage part number data and is used in the automotive industry as a way of exchanging and managing product data on auto parts and accessories. The PIES data standard contains description product information including but not limited to marketing text, multiple levels of pricing, supersession information, package dimensions, and interchange data.
Managing Your Database
If you’re running your auto parts store on Amazon or eBay Motors, you will get access to useful tools for listing management of auto parts fitment data. Their master vehicle lists are periodically updated, and you can review all changes to fitment data for a particular vehicle year/make/model. However, adding just a few fitments requires a lot of time, which makes listing hundreds of products a tedious and time-consuming job. That’s why many auto parts sellers use third-party solutions that automate the entire process.
myFitment can help you manage auto parts data for all of today’s marketplaces and websites. To create and manage your database, you first need to upload your inventory to myFitment, and then specify which vehicles each of your parts fit. You can add multiple vehicles to multiple parts at the same time. Once you specify the fitment data, it will be sent directly to your auto parts online store.
What’s also great about myFitment is that it comes with a database of vehicle parts that are already sold on eBay Motors and Amazon (fitment data included), as well as an eBay fitment research service that will come handy if you are selling third-party brands. It is a very easy-to-use and flexible solution that enables auto part sellers to provide comprehensive data to their customers, from simple year/make/model data to data associated across multiple catalogs or different components.
Because new components and vehicles are regularly being introduced to the automotive aftermarket industry, the ACES and PIES standards are updated on a monthly basis. To eliminate inaccuracies in fitment data that occurs when managing your catalogs manually, aftermarket auto parts dealers should use database software that regularly analyzes and updates their auto part catalogs. Whenever ACES and PIES standards get updated, myFitment will update your database with fresh fitment information, so you don’t have to keep track of and perform the work manually. It will ensure that all changes made are accurate, preventing any holes and inaccuracies in your catalogs as they appear.
Creating and managing product data shouldn’t be a challenge with the right auto parts eCommerce solution. However, those who are new to the industry can be unaware or underestimate the difficulty and complexity of managing auto parts data. As a result, they experience inefficiencies, make mistakes, and suffer consequences, such as high product return rates. Choosing an eCommerce platform that is incompatible with their data causes business owners to underestimate the effort required to manage it.
The MyFitment solution makes it easy for sellers to sell auto parts online because it is based around automation. Our bulk processes and hundreds of reports can keep you competitive and running your online auto parts business efficiently. Feel free to contact us for a free trial.