“What’s your vehicle’s Make and Model?” That’s the first question you’ll likely hear when visiting an automotive parts business. The answer to that question is crucial – both for the customer and the company. The ability to use this information to find the correct part boils down to accurate Vehicle Fitment Data.

The trouble is that fitment data is extremely complex, and its volume and variety can overwhelm businesses as they attempt to expand. How can Automotive aftermarket keep pace? Let’s look at a few tips and tricks.

First, understand fitment data challenges in a modern marketplace.

Automotive product data is vast and multi-layered. Each vehicle has thousands of parts. Each part has product information, like brand name, part number, dimensions, type, pricing, etc.

Then, for each individual part, you also have fitment data, i.e., what the part fits. This data can vary by trim, engine size, transmission, etc. – all of which can change by model year.

The complexity of fitment data leads to two issues in the modern auto aftermarket:

  • Companies can’t compete online: An analysis by Hedges & Co. shows that online sales for new auto parts and accessories in the U.S. will grow by almost 30% this year. Yet competing in online parts sales requires reliable year-make-model lookup. Customers have come to expect this functionality. Without accurate and accessible fitment data, parts lookup isn’t possible.
  • Errors cause dissatisfaction: Using manual processes to gather and govern product and fitment data is highly error-prone. If a customer receives the wrong part, it lowers their trust and leads to higher returns. Bad data can also cause slow time-to-market, causing your business to fall behind the competition.

To overcome these issues, many auto parts enterprises turn to Master Data Management (MDM) platforms to help ensure their product and fitment data is accurate, consistent, and easier to manage and enrich. While MDM is game-changing, technology alone is not enough.

Be sure to spend time on data integrations.

In the U.S., the primary database for vehicle fitment data is compiled by the Auto Care Association.

To ensure the quality and standardization of auto parts data, the ACA Auto Care Association has created the Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) and Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES). Each flat file helps businesses provide product data in a cohesive way.

  • The ACES standard defines vehicle configurations, enabling part applications for light-duty on-road vehicles (cars, pickup trucks, motorcycles). Most aftermarket resellers (distributors and retailers) utilize ACES as the basis for part-to-vehicle selection.
  • PIES is more universally used for all vehicle parts and components, also utilized by the heavy-duty (truck) segment, off-road vehicles, etc.
  • PAdb (part attribute database from ACA Auto Care Association) helps assign standardized physical and performance attribute labels to most part types.

While these auto parts standards are helpful, they also add complexity when it comes to data management. Navigating this area can be a tall task, particularly for industry vets who have long used other practices.

An MDM consultant armed with automotive industry expertise can help you configure your platform to accommodate auto parts standards.

For example, they can help you establish integration with an auto parts database, so when your data stewards create product data, the information can be validated against the Auto Care standards. This process catches fitment data errors before they’re incorporated into online part catalogs and channels, preventing costly returns due to incorrect product information.

Think about melding technology, process, and people.

We know you live and breathe parts and fitment data. But sometimes, when you’re in the weeds, it’s hard to see how a tool like MDM can really impact your business.

That’s why it’s important to utilize a partner with expertise in melding people, processes, and technology to deliver business value. One that understands:

  • The relationships between product and fitment data,
  • What workflows will be most useful to your data stewards,
  • How to create outbound integrations to your ERP, website, or print catalogs, and
  • How to configure the integration so the data meets formatting requirements.

Don’t Let Fitment Data Hold You Back

Change can be hard. But in an area evolving as quickly as automotive digital transformation, you can’t afford to fall behind. Fitment data shouldn’t hold you back – it should help you bring your auto parts business into the future.

Have Auto Care PIES, ACES or NAPA Ingestion/Management Requirements? Don’t’ worry, we speak your language.

Learn more about our Automotive MDM services, or contact us to discuss how we can help you get started.