A Guide for Managing a Car Parts Catalogue

December 17, 2021
A Guide for Managing a Car Parts Catalogue

With e-commerce becoming more and more popular in the auto parts industry, businesses are increasingly looking at online channels to grow their business. Creating an e-commerce website allows for a large number of orders to be fulfilled, as customers are now more likely to make orders through online platforms. Opening an e-commerce store also allows for a wider audience to be reached.

However, e-commerce itself poses a huge challenge to unprepared businesses in the automotive parts industry. Managing an e-commerce website requires a lot of time and effort. One of the most challenging aspects of the process involves car parts catalogues.

A car parts catalogue is an integral part of any auto parts e-commerce website. The catalogue is the database of the inventory list for all the parts available to be sold and includes fundamental information about the parts including the vehicle compatibility information.‍

What is an online parts catalogue?

The term parts catalogue is used in various ways to describe a number of types of catalogues. Often these can be PDFs or electronic catalogues that only refer to a particular brand. While these are very useful when researching details for a particular part, they are less useful when adding the detail from these catalogues onto a website or marketplace. This type of parts catalogue is not what we are referring to in the article.

In this article, we refer to a parts catalogue as a centralised internal catalogue for your own inventory. This catalogue includes all parts details like vehicle compatibility, cross-referenced part numbers, descriptions, images, categories and so on. Having an internal catalogue for your parts inventory allows you to have complete control over the data and enables you to be able to publish the data directly to your website or other sales channels like eBay.

Who needs an online parts catalogue?

Essentially, any business that sells parts online, or distributes parts to other businesses. For example, manufacturers, distributors, resellers, dealers, retailers, dismantlers, salvage yards, remanufacturers and more.

If you have an inventory of car parts and you are looking to sell these, either B2B or B2C, setting up a catalogue with all the parts information, vehicle compatibility, weights, dimensions and so on is always a challenge. However, this is essential to do in order to be successful in scaling business exponentially rather than simply adding staff to deal with phone calls, customer queries and manual data entry.

Aftermarket data standards

Aftermarket parts are not popular or even available in all countries. For example, there are very few aftermarket brands in countries such as Korea. However, the general worldwide trend is that aftermarket parts have been growing in popularity in recent years.

Unlike OEM parts, aftermarket parts are not found in the original vehicle. Instead, independent manufacturers create equivalents or modified versions of the original parts. There is a growing number of aftermarket manufacturers, now estimated to be over 30,000.

Because aftermarket manufacturers are completely independent of OEMs, the standard practices for documenting and collating fitment data is very different. A significant amount of research on part-vehicle compatibility and cross-reference information is performed by manufacturers and third-party companies every year.

Issues arise when the methods for communicating this information to other businesses in the industry such as distributors, retailers and dealers can often be in hundreds, if not thousands of different formats. In order to solve this problem, a number of standard formats for documenting and sharing parts and vehicle fitment information within the aftermarket industry have arisen.

ACES

The ACES data format is one of the common standards in the field of auto parts. It is largely popular in the North American market and was created by the Auto Care Association for the purpose of managing and exchanging fitment information. This standard helps manufacturers and retailers of aftermarket parts send and receive auto parts compatibility information based on OEM-style attributes such as year, make, model, etc.

The Parts Configuration Database is a database that includes service items, replacement parts, and other supplies. It allows car parts retailers as well as manufacturers to create a useful car parts catalogue.

Manufacturers in North America who use ACES to distribute their parts fitment data often provide distributors and retailers with this data in an XML format. Decoding and using these files requires technical knowledge and access to the Auto Care vehicle databases.

PIES is another common standard that is extensively used by car parts businesses. Unlike ACES, the PIES format stores information about a particular part such as price, brand, fitment notes, and description, but does not include information regarding vehicle compatibility.

The PIES format covers over 25,000 product types. The data available in the PIES format provides a resource for manufacturers in the North American aftermarket to format their parts information in a standardised way.

It is important to dispel a few misconceptions about these databases. First, both ACES and PIES are not tools for catalogue lookups. They cannot help your business with a one-for-all centralised database that contains all the information that you need regarding application data and part numbers. In addition, ACES and PIES are used only in the aftermarket and therefore do not contain OEM information.

As you can see, the PIES and ACES formats play an important part in providing the groundwork for fitment data. However, there are shortcomings for many businesses that are selling directly to consumers online.

It is also important to keep in mind that both the ACES and PIES data standards have to be regularly updated in order to be useful. This is because they are predominantly file-based. Therefore, the accuracy of these data standards is not completely foolproof. You will have to do regular checkups in order to make sure that they are in good health.

UVDB (Universal Vehicle Database)

UVDB is one of the most detailed and accurate vehicle databases in the world, containing over 70 million vehicle configurations. The database is driven by both the community and the industry, making it a flexible and open standard for coverage and accuracy. With its vast amount of information, businesses can utilise the database itself for the purpose of standardising and distributing data with third parties.

UVDB employs industry-recognised standards to communicate its information, effectively allowing it to reach as many connected nodes as possible. The database offers extremely high accuracy as it takes into account different car configurations as well as other factors such as the vehicle’s transmission, body style, drive type and engine, among others. The database is also managed by a team of professionals who not only keep it up-to-date but consistently help purge out old information where needed.

The UVDB also comes with a unique pricing scheme: you only pay for the data you use. It is also incredibly easy with its clear and simple API, which allows for faster integration. For international users, the UVDB also helps translate the terms used for specific parts into local definitions, making it easier to integrate the system into a local website.

GAPC (Global Auto Parts Catalogue)

GAPC and UVDB databases work together to achieve a comprehensive auto part catalogue containing vehicle compatibility and all the details that are important to incorporate into a comprehensive catalogue. The GAPC is a community-and industry-driven auto parts catalogue that specialises in high-quality information.

GAPC also takes into account the different configurations that a car might have. This will help improve its efficiency even more vastly when combined with UVDB which is regionalised for the car parc of each country.

GAPC also matches aftermarket parts with their OEM equivalents. This provides businesses with OEM-level fitment data that can be used. GAPC can communicate with all industry-leading e-commerce platforms such as eBay, Shopify, OLX and more.

The main managing application for GAPC is PartsPal. PartsPal is an application that allows a business to maintain a centralised auto parts catalogue. This is powerful for part businesses that are selling online. The centralised catalogue can easily be shared with third-party distributors, resellers or partners. The catalogue also automatically maps with the majority of sales channels that an auto part seller needs in e-commerce.

Challenges solved by a car part catalogue

The databases mentioned above form the basis of a car part catalogue. We’ve touched on some of the key benefits of having an online parts catalogue that is your centralised source of truth, but there are a number of challenges that are overcome with the implementation of your catalogue that we have outlined below.

Manual searching

A parts store often stocks thousands of car parts in its inventory. The sheer number of these parts means that customers can have a very hard time trying to find the parts that they actually need. It does not help that some parts are not compatible with some vehicles at all.

With a car parts catalogue, customers save time by not having to manually research this information themselves. The catalogue has already been divided by car parts based on their category and can be queried based on their cross-reference part numbers or vehicle compatibilities.

Wrong part ordering

Customers order the wrong parts for their car from time to time due to various reasons, which presents a big challenge for businesses in the parts industry. Customers may order the parts that do not fit their car because of mismatches, missing or simply incorrect information. As a result, customers will have to return the parts to the retailer. This is definitely not an easy or smooth process for anyone.

Wrong part orders can also occur due to manual errors on the retailer’s end. For example, a customer ordering a part based on a part number that requires manual cross-checking to find the right parts and prepare the order. Since humans are prone to errors, data cross-checking may have to be done repeatedly. A car part catalogue solves this issue, as it automatically matches part numbers with the right cross-references.

With a car part catalogue, customers can easily order the right car parts every time. Fitment data helps customers find the exact parts that their car needs. PartsPal helps car parts store owners manage fitment data more effectively.

Communication issues

Without a unified car part catalogue containing part numbers and other pertinent details, it can be quite difficult to communicate issues with manufacturers. For instance, there is a change in the specifications of a certain car part. It could take car part sellers a very long time to rectify this kind of mistake, so it is a good idea to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Utilising an API-driven car part catalogue will allow you to standardise communication with your partners. With this catalogue, any data changes made to the parts will be reflected in the catalogue in real-time, making sure that your store will not accidentally sell the wrong products to your customers.

Because fitment data is a very important part of a car parts business, it is important to check the integrity of fitment data from time to time. The data must be highly accurate and up-to-date in order for it to be useful.

If the data integrity is low, customers may buy the wrong parts, resulting in costly returns. With a car part catalogue, it is easy to check the status of the fitment data and make the appropriate bulk changes to it when needed.

Failed sales

A centralised catalogue for parts helps car part sellers organise their inventories. In fact, not using one may negatively impact the store’s sales volume. Customers want to find the parts they need as soon as possible, and without a central catalogue integrated, it is time-consuming to find the right part. The lack of a good search function, as well as a functional car part catalogue, will clutter your customers’ experience, preventing them from enjoying the good service they have come to expect in today’s e-commerce landscape.

As such, the key to improving your sales is to improve the infrastructure of your website, starting with a car part catalogue itself. One of the best ways to make it easier to shop at your car parts store is to implement an illustrated car part catalogue.

With pictures that clearly show where the parts will fit, it will be much easier for customers to make the purchase decision. As a result, they are much more likely to buy car parts on your website.

On average, an integrated parts catalogue increases website conversions by 60%.

Time-consuming ordering process

For some websites, the ordering process can take a while, especially if it is handled manually. Manual labour is time-consuming, not to mention error-prone. Without a car part catalogue, the ordering process is simply more complicated. Customers rarely have the time to go through all the parts available in the store. The ordering process becomes much more time-consuming.

With a car part catalogue, managing parts is much easier. It becomes easier to know which parts are out of stock, and their status is quickly updated on the system. This ensures that your customers will not order a part that is no longer available by mistake, which will end up with costly returns and negative effects on your business’s reputation.

For parts businesses that want to sell online, a car part catalogue is a must-have feature for their website. These catalogues allow businesses to more effectively manage the car parts that they have in stock along with their corresponding fitment data more effectively.

On the customer’s end, a car part catalogue is a good way for them to learn more about the part and how it fits their car. They can also use the catalogue to check whether the parts they are about to buy are readily available.

One of the best choices for car parts catalogues is PartsPal. Utilising both UVDB and GAPC, PartsPal can help produce accurate and high-quality fitment data for millions of vehicle configurations. PartsPal also allows you to make bulk changes more easily, ensuring you of updated product information within just a few minutes. With PartsPal, managing a car part catalogue is a much easier process.

Advantages of using a car part catalogue

A car part catalogue is a database that showcases all the parts sold in your online store, neatly divided into categories so that you and your customers can find them easily. Online car part stores can’t do without this feature, as it is crucial to their success. Here are some of the most important advantages of using a car part catalogue.

Higher sales conversions

Since revenues depend on sales volume, it’s imperative to minimise sales conversion in order to maximise profits. With a car part catalogue, this task will be considerably much easier. Customers do not like it when they have to spend a lot of effort navigating your website only to end up with the wrong part ordered.

Without a car part catalogue, your customers may be completely lost when they try to purchase the parts they need. They might have to contact store assistants as well as the helpline, which can potentially flood it with messages. This is why it is always a good idea to integrate a high-quality car part catalogue into your website.

An organised car part catalogue allows customers to find the parts that fit their vehicle. Customers can search for and browse parts by categories as well as by parts numbers.

Furthermore, with the use of an illustrated car part catalogue, customers will no longer have to work with nondescript numbers and words, but take advantage of actual visual representations of the parts. As some customers can be rather picky when choosing their parts, an illustration of them will help them easily help their purchase.

Less processing delays

Delays may happen if part numbers have to be cross-checked manually every time a customer makes a purchase. This can cause a lot of unnecessary delays as well as inaccuracies because humans make errors all the time. When people make mistakes, the customers will have to return the parts to the seller, which can be a very lengthy and troublesome process.

If you opt to integrate a car part catalogue into your website, cross-checking information will become much easier or even redundant. The database itself already contains all the information needed for manual cross-referencing, if ever the need for that arises. Otherwise, this method becomes automatic.

With a car part catalogue, you can also solve one big logistical problem: updates from the manufacturers. If your catalogue is connected to a unified global database, when the database is updated, your own catalogue also receives the same updates.

Accurate parts data

Parts accuracy is extremely important in the car part industry, as some parts have very specific fitment, making them compatible with certain makes of cars only. If the customers buy the wrong parts, they will have to return them. This process is troublesome for both the seller and the buyer.

Without a car part catalogue, managing parts data accuracy for your website is an extremely difficult and time-consuming task. There is no way for your customers to check the fitment data of parts aside from contacting your sales agents. This can potentially overload your team, and they might provide the wrong consultations to your customers.

With fitment data, the catalogue can show which parts will fit a customer’s car. With Partly, it is also possible to create a fitment table to help customers find the parts that match their vehicle more quickly. By utilising both the GAPC and the UVDB, it becomes possible to deliver high-quality fitment data to ensure that each customer is making the right purchase decision at all times.

For car part sellers, an accurate car part catalogue is necessary to have a consistently up-to-date database. With a car part catalogue that is connected to a credible database, all data is automatically updated, especially the ones coming from manufacturers themselves.

More efficient sales and stock forecasting

A car part catalogue helps car part-owners to organise their inventories more efficiently. It becomes easier to track sales volume and make adjustments across stock as needed. Most car part catalogues will also help you manage your stock more effectively.

They come with the necessary tools that let you track sales records as well as forecast the changes in the coming months or years. This feature is essential for business owners who want to plan far ahead in order to stay one step ahead of competitors.

Fitment data provided by the car parts catalogue are known to make listings easily picked up by search engines. This will improve the chance of people finding the car parts that they need from your website.

You can also predict the make of the car that your customers are using by using fitment data. With this information, the marketing team could send targeted sales emails to the customers, improving the overall effectiveness of the marketing campaign.‍

The Partly advantage

Partly is a top-tier choice for businesses that are looking for a smart e-commerce solution for managing parts online. The application is trusted by experts all around the world, making it the perfect tool for a global audience. Partly comes with its own range of benefits that allow it to get ahead.

Total global catalogue

Partly provides a global auto parts catalogue and vehicle database that comes with numerous features to make it extremely easy for car part sellers to run a successful online store. It uses UVDB (Universal Vehicle Database) and GAPC (Global Auto Parts Catalogue) on a global scale.

UVDB is the most accurate and most detailed vehicle database in the world. It hosts more than 70 million vehicle configurations, and assists to distribute them to any connected account or third parties.

The database takes into account information such as transmission, body style and drive types, among others. It ensures that your fitment data will always be accurate. UVDB will serve as a foundation for your website, upon which a stable fitment database will be constructed. UVDB also translates vehicle configurations as well as data to local standards when necessary, unlocking many opportunities for global expansion.

UVDB works in close conjunction with GAPC. This database carries all the information needed for data cross-checking. The database features as many as 45 million parts, making sure that it can cover all the parts you need.

It is also a global-centric database, as certain part names will be translated into the locally preferred terms. This global aspect of the database will make sure that the support team can provide assistance to your business as quickly as possible.

GAPC can also provide the foundation for the vehicle selector, a feature that allows customers to find the parts they need by entering information about their own vehicle, considerably making the purchasing process faster. GAPC does this by providing OEM-level fitment data for all parts including aftermarket parts, which make the vehicle selector extremely accurate.

Partly provides full support to clients from all over the world. The team includes a highly responsive support group on standby to respond to queries. The support department can be reached through email or phone calls to make sure that your team will receive the assistance they need in no time.

Complete consolidated information

When creating a car parts catalogue, all information should be available in a consolidated format. This is actually quite important because if fitment data is fragmented and unstructured, cross-checking information will take a lot of time. A database with too many data formats to process will also be a logistical nightmare for the management team, as they will have a hard time updating information from their own database, suppliers or manufacturers.

Partly utilises two databases, UVDB and GAPC. This allows the application to provide highly accurate and consolidated information to third-party users or to other connected accounts.

This allows accounts to process data with ease, making sure that car parts stores get high-quality fitment data. The data is also available in a structured form, along with the necessary fitment data.

Another huge plus from Partly’s database is the fact that it can easily be integrated into popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, eBay and more. The integration steps do not take a lot of time and effort.

Furthermore, the support team is always on standby when you install the application, ready to provide the necessary assistance. Plus, when integrating Partly into your Shopify store, the assets will use the same theme as your current store for marketing consistency purposes.

By integrating Partly into multiple e-commerce platforms, car part businesses with many sales channels can easily manage them at the same time. The fitment data used on these platforms are available in the same format, which makes it easier for the team to use fitment data interchangeably. Therefore, you will not have to manage multiple databases at the same time, and you can just stick with Partly for all of your fitment data.

Having complete and consolidated information will also help you with managing the website in general. Partly will help you with the listing process through the use of the GAPC. This database contains all the information you need such as part numbers, part types, interchangeable parts, and fitment, which will help the team to list a product in no time.

When you need to make changes to your inventory or your listings, Partly allows bulk changes. This will help your team to make manual updates quickly, reducing the time and resources needed for the purpose of updating and managing the site.

Data localisation

Partly is available in English, but can also translate universal terms into locally-used terms or other languages. For example, a hood might be called a bonnet in some regions. With Partly, the terms will be translated with ease so that it’s easier to work with the parts.

Partly is a global solution to the most common e-commerce problems. It comes with a car part catalogue that not only allows you to update your car parts information database more effectively but will also let you manage stock with ease. Fitment data for the catalogue is fed directly from GAPC and UVDB, two reliable databases that contain high-quality data.

With Partly, customers will readily trust you and the parts you sell. This will help to drive your sales volume up and assure you of success in the field. With the help of Partly’s car part catalogue, managing an online car parts store becomes as simple as it can get.

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