Why the ACA’s Brand Table Matters for Your Catalog

brand ID

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The Brand Table is a recent addition to the Auto Care Association’s PIES and ACES catalog standards. This table is designed to make it easy to identify different parts brands by creating a standard coding system, working alongside their Product Classification Database (PCdb) and Product Attribute Database (PAdb) to correctly identify and categorize parts. This ACA Technology Minute video will give you a quick overview of the Brand Table.

How does the Brand Table work?

Entries in the Brand Table are labeled using a hierarchy that breaks down brands into parent companies, brand owners, brands and sub-brands, with each of these categories getting its own four digit alphabetic code. This helps avoid confusion with brands that use common names like “Professional” or “Performance.” The code for one company’s “Performance” sub-brand will be different from another company’s “Performance” sub-brand.

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The code is used to specify and organize product brands on the back end, but the brand names will show up on the front end in the search and display. For example, if a product has the auto care market brand code “ABCD EFGH IJKL MNOP,” this will be translated to display its real brand name, which could be something like “BigPartsCo Durommax Bushing Master Performance” when the catalog is published. Of course, on the front end, users are typically more interested in the last two categories. For example, when using ShowMeTheParts’ online database, search users see the Brand Table’s brand and sub-brand labels show up under the supplier and brand categories. Using the previous example, the user would just see “Bushing Master” as the supplier and “Performance” as the brand category.

The Brand Table is already built into the standards for PIES and ACES. PIES uses auto care market brand codes to give products unique identifiers. By including the brand table code in catalog entries, problems can be avoided when two separate parts are issued using the same part number. ACES refers to these codes to identify the brands included in an electronic catalog data file. Enter the code in the part entry, and the part branding will show up automatically in the correct fields when the catalog is published.

The Auto Care Association has set up a separate website, brandtable.pricedex.com, to manage the Brand Table. From here, new brand identifiers can be requested, current identifiers can be found using a search engine, and the whole Brand Table can be downloaded.

How do you add the Brand Table to your catalog?

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Vertical Development has been working on ACES and PIES catalog software for decades, so it should be no surprise that our tools already support this coding standard. We can help you get your products coded to meet the latest standards, whether you’re just starting to build a standard catalog or need to add new classification standards like PAdb and the Brand Table to your existing catalog.

Need to get your products labeled for the Brand Table to meet reseller catalog requirements? We can help your company get up to speed with our tools for a Do It Yourself (DIY) solution, or help you with the process with our Do It For Me (DIFM) services. Of course, like all of our products, everything is integrated, so that any changes you make to your ACES or PIES catalog can be transferred to the ShowMeTheParts public database and ShowMeTheParts-based private databases as well.

Ready to get started on your catalog? Call us at (847) 609-9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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ShowMeTheParts Helps to Simplify Your E-Commerce Strategy

Online sales of aftermarket parts for 2015 were estimated at $6 billion, 17% more than 2014.

Online sales of aftermarket parts for 2015 were estimated at $6 billion, 17% more than 2014.

At the turn of the century, everyone was excited about e-tailing. Put any sort of store on the Internet, no matter how questionable the profitability might be, and investors would throw money at the idea.

Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, and the dot com bubble burst, but the Internet didn’t go away. More people got online, software and hardware improved, and the promise of online sales have become a reality. While the first e-commerce boom was accessed via modems connected to land lines, today customers can connect to high speed Internet from computers, tablets or smartphones. Meanwhile, tools like HTML5 and JavaScript have transformed static web pages into something that can act like a stand-alone application. This combination of improved tools and accessibility has resulted in an explosion of online sales, and the aftermarket parts industry is no exception.

How important is e-commerce to aftermarket sales?

Online sales of aftermarket parts for 2015 were estimated at $6 billion, 17% more than 2014. This growth rate is expected to continue with an increase of $1 billion or more each year for the foreseeable future. This isn’t a sales channel dominated by newcomers, either: 19 of the top 50 online aftermarket parts sellers today began before the Internet, either as catalog sellers or brick and mortar parts chains. If your business isn’t online, you’ll be missing a lot of potential sales over the coming years.

How do you give your current parts business an online presence?

ShowMeTheParts ProductVertical Development was around before the Internet reached consumers, and we’ve been there every step of the way since, actively developing tools that join catalog technology with online accessibility. Our software includes a set of modules, making it easy to connect your standard paper catalog to our own ShowMeTheParts online database.

e-Tailing opens the door to providing more information than is practical with a paper catalog, but it also means customers won’t be able to see the part until it’s delivered. Our software is built to help bridge the gap, bringing customers the information they need to make purchase decisions. Our software supports the Auto Care Association’s Product Attribute Database (PAdb), providing customers with standardized information about part attributes including materials, colors and applications. Along with PAdb, the ShowMeTheParts database can also include technical documents, photos, and 360-degree views of parts, while VIN and license-based search tools help customers correctly identify their vehicle so search results will only show parts that will work with their car. That means, customers know exactly what they’re buying, and sellers don’t have to deal with as many returns.

Since there’s no publishing date on an online database, new information can be added as soon as it becomes available. With ShowMeTheParts, this data can be pushed to sellers and customers in days instead of weeks or months. If you’re a seller, chances are the parts you sell are already in our database: ShowMeTheParts already covers 4.5 million parts and 8.5 million interchanges from over 300 manufacturers, making it the largest public parts database on the market. We can help you create a ShowMeTheParts-based site that is limited to the parts that you carry while allowing you to add specific information like pricing and availability.

search-engine-friendly app

Designed to be easy to use on small touchscreens, while still offering all of our powerful search tools

The Internet is more accessible than ever thanks to smartphones, and we’ve built ShowMeTheParts to work with them, too. It offers a separate interface that’s designed to be easy to use on small touchscreens, while still offering all of our powerful search tools. We can also deliver this experience as an app for iOS and Android to cover the majority of devices, as well as a mobile-friendly web page that can be used by any device without requiring a download.

If you’ve been thinking about making the jump into e-commerce, now is the time. Sales have never been better, and Vertical Development can make the transition to online sales and cataloging easy with our pre-built tools and database.

Ready to partner with us to take your product sales online? Give us a call at 847.609.9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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Why the Product Attribute Database (PAdb) Matters for Your Business

Would you like to make it easier for your customers to compare products? The Product Attribute Database (PAdb) lets you add information about part attributes to your PIES catalogs using a standardized format. By having a single, unified system, customers can make direct comparisons between products to help them figure out what they need.

Mapping ScreensPAdb was introduced by the Auto Care Association in 2013 as an add-on to their Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) cataloging system. The PAdb project brought together industry experts from across all product types to develop the best and most complete set of product attributes in the industry. The PAdb defines parts according to style as well as attributes related to the product. These attributes are then broken down into types and values for those types. This can include information such as color, dimensions, materials and performance characteristics.

Manufacturers can propose new attributes to be added to the database, with each attribute validated by at least two suppliers and one major reseller before being added to PAdb. These attributes cannot be subjective, they can’t expose proprietary information and they must be attributes that aren’t already part of the PIES specifications. Currently, there are over 109,000 attributes covering more than 12,000 part terminologies. These numbers are constantly increasing with the Auto Care Association releasing new versions almost every month. Today, PAdb covers 96% of the products by volume that make up the aftermarket parts industry, including everything from air fresheners to exhaust manifolds.

How does the PAdb benefit customers?
Let’s say a customer is shopping for some brake pads. Using a basic catalog, the customers can find a list of pads that will fit their application. However, at most major retailers, this list may include a dozen or more options, leaving the buyer to determine which pads have the lining material they want and the added hardware they need. At best, this information is available because it was put together by the retailer, but even then, some features may be left out. This means the buyer can’t be 100% certain of what they’re ordering until it’s in their hands.

If those same brake parts have PAdb attributes as part of their PIES entries, the customer can easily narrow down their selection based on their requirements. In this case, the manufacturer can add information such as the type of friction material, its thickness, and whether shims, wear sensors or other hardware is included. Since this data is added at the manufacturer level, these attributes remain the same across the retail chain through wholesalers and retailers, keeping the information consistent. Moreover, since every manufacturer is labeling their parts the same way, it’s easy for consumers to make comparisons between product lines.

Adding attributes is more important than ever as more businesses incorporate online shops. With no counter person to help out or product example to look at, this information greatly improves the chance that they can find and order exactly what they need. Whether shopping online or using a database like ShowMeTheParts, by adding a few search terms, the buyer can limit the results to a specific pad material, and they can find out if they’ll need to buy a hardware kit or if one is already included with the pads.

Ready to add PAdb to your catalog? Vertical Development already has PAdb support built into our PIES Module. In fact, if you’re already using our PIES module, you can start adding PAdb information once you activate your PAdb subscription at http://www.autocare.org/What-We-Do/Technology/Resource-Files/PAdb-Application-form/. Call us at (847) 609-9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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How 360-degree Images Can Help Your Auto Parts Business

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Vertical Development strives to make our database technology as easy to use as possible so that ordering mistakes and the resulting returns can be reduced. One of our recent additions to achieve this goal is 360-degree imaging. This lets customers and salespeople get a full view of a part to ensure compatibility before they order it.

Why is it important to add these views on top of the technical data already available?

Automakers are constantly making minor changes to their vehicles, and that means subtle differences can determine whether or not a part will work. An otherwise identical part might get a different wiring connection, an extra vacuum port, or added reinforcement to improve performance or work with different equipment. Sometimes, these nearly identical parts co-exist in the same model, either because of differing option packages or mid-year updates. These problems can be encountered in every kind of vehicle: any car may receive modifications to address problems discovered in the field, while some vehicles, like light duty trucks, may be offered with millions of option combinations to fit their customers’ needs.

Even the most astute counterperson can’t memorize the look of every part, and the most experienced customers can’t intuit the design of a part from a single image. This is why a 360-degree view can help your auto parts business: it’s as close as you can get to having the actual part in your hands, allowing precise comparisons to eliminate the guesswork when shopping for parts.

Making a 360-degree view is a lot like making a cartoon: multiple images are shown in succession to create the appearance of movement. To do this, dozens of photos are taken of the part, and these photos are stitched together to create a full view of every surface. The more photos used to create this view, the smoother the animation will be.

Taking these photos is more complex than standard stock photos due to the range of views. Instead of sitting a part on a table against a blank backdrop and taking a photo, the part has to be suspended to allow the camera to move seamlessly around it, and the inside of the part has to be viewable wherever possible. That means opening throttle bodies, moving levers that obscure bolt holes, and fully extending components to show detail.

It may take more effort than a standard photo, but the result is a virtual part that the user can manipulate on screen, turning it to different angles to get a close look at every surface. With the system we’ve built into ShowMeTheParts, the user can move the part with the drag of a mouse cursor or a finger to look around, then click on the magnifier icon to see more detail.

We already offer multiple search methods including the usual make, model, trim and year combination as well as VIN number, VIN bar code and license plate searches. Adding a 360-degree view means that once a customer has narrowed down the possible parts for their vehicle, they can get final verification that what they’re ordering will fit what they’re replacing.

A standard feature of ShowMeTheParts. 360-degree images are a value-added feature available to all ShowMeTheParts clients at no added cost, you need only provide the image files. When you add 360-degree views, you’re giving customers a new tool that can help reduce returns while giving them the confidence to buy your parts.

Ready to partner with Vertical Development to integrate 360-degree images into your online catalog or sales process? Give us a call at 847.609.9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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Printed Catalogs Coming Back – and Vertical Development Can Help

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It’s true that the printed catalog has been on a decline, but it’s by no means out. Even as the industry as a whole moves towards online catalogs accessible via computers and smartphones, there are a lot of cases where a printed catalog still makes sense. While Vertical Development offers ShowMeTheParts, the largest online public parts database on the market, we also have decades of expertise in developing printer-ready catalogs. We can turn your data into a wide range of industry standard formats and even help you build your listings so that you can serve customers who still need a physical copy of your catalog.

Why paper? It may seem pretty obvious to say, but a paper catalog doesn’t require a computer. If there is a power outage or system outage, customers can still look up what they need in the catalog. This is especially true during natural disasters. In this case, it may be days before a shop has power after a hurricane or tornado, printed catalogs help businesses to continue as normal.

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Anyone who can read can use a printed catalog. No special equipment is needed, making printed catalogs a great choice for small shops. Sometimes it’s the preferred choice because a shop won’t need to refer to a catalog that often, and the only computer it has is the POS system. In other cases, parts are such a small part of the overall business that it doesn’t make sense to dedicate time to training on a computer-based catalog. It also makes it easy for customers to look up items for themselves: by having printed catalogs handy for fast moving items like oil and air filters, they can find what they need without waiting to talk to an employee.

Unlike a digital catalog, you can put a paper catalog in someone’s hand. That means salespeople can leave a physical reminder of what your business carries with far more information than a simple business card. It also gives customers a full view of your product line, whereas search results in an online system may only show what’s in stock locally.

No matter how good your online presence may be, having a printed catalog opens your business up to more sales opportunities. Thanks to vCatalog and ShowMeTheParts, Vertical Development is your one-stop solution to get your catalog printer-ready and on the web.

To put vCatalog software to work for your brand or company, call us at (847) 609-9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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Visit Us at ACPN Knowledge Exchange

We hope to see you at the 2016 Knowledge Exchange Conference, the largest gathering of catalog professionals and their vendors and solution partners, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, LA, May 15-18, 2016.

Stop by our booth to see the full Vertical Development catalog system that allows for real-time data manipulation, industry standard data deliveries, printed pages, buyers’ guides, and much more. Besides our industry leading Catalog Management Solutions we will be discussing and displaying the solutions offered with our new eCommerce partners and sharing details for our all-new Fleet Surveys.

Also, check out all the services and solutions offered by Vertical Development and ShowMeTheParts. We can help get your data into the ACES & PIES formats, take your data off the page and onto the web with ShowMeTheParts, or integrate our revolutionary parts’ search engine onto your website, and provide your clients a robust, customizable eCommerce solution. Click here to learn more about our solutions and services.

As always, we will be sponsoring a segment of the events and look forward to seeing everyone during the coffee break on Tuesday, May 17 after the Paper Catalog Awards. While you’re at the Knowledge Exchange, be sure to look us up, and visit our ShowMeTheParts.com booth to see how we can help you with your catalog management, mapping, and web catalog needs. Or visit www.ShowMeTheParts.com or www.VerticalDev.com for more information.

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KYB Mobile App Adds New License Plate Lookup Feature Powered by ShowMeTheParts

kyb mobile appKYB Americas Corporation, an industry leading supplier of shocks and struts, recently partnered with Vertical Development, Inc. to add an all-new license plate lookup feature to its mobile app. The KYB app, available for both iPhone and Android devices, makes it easy for aftermarket professionals to find the correct shocks and struts among more than 3,300 items in the KYB catalog. With this added feature, the KYB app can now zero in on the proper parts using a vehicle’s license plate number.

KYB’s mobile app integrates the regular updates from ShowMeTheParts, along with the accuracy of license plate lookups to ensure that shops feel confident about installing the correct shocks and struts for a job.

“KYB is delighted to share the new license plate lookup functionality through our mobile app and online catalog, both powered by Vertical Development’s ShowMeTheParts. We upgraded our KYB cataloging with this new license plate lookup feature to help the service provider reduce the time it takes to look up parts and avoid mistakes,” shared Tim Oldiges, product manager for KYB Americas Corporation.

KYB turned to ShowMeTheParts because it is the most up-to-date public parts catalog available – with information on over 300+ suppliers and manufacturers of aftermarket replacement parts. With lighting fast turnaround time, users can be assured the information is the most current available and published in the way the supplier intends it.

Each year, KYB publishes an extensive catalog with meticulous details on its product lines. With the ShowMeTheParts integration, KYB adds entries as soon as products are released, and users always have the most recent information when searching for shocks and struts using the KYB mobile app.

For corporate sales departments, we’ve improved our already robust mobile solution so that field sales teams are able to show their products in a most-efficient manner.

To put ShowMeTheParts software to work for your brand or company, call us at (847) 609-9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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Exide Technologies Implements ShowMeTheParts to Launch New Mobile-Friendly Battery Lookup for Mid-States Distributing Company

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Covering 1.7 million parts with 4.4 million attributes and 8.7 million interchanges, ShowMeTheParts is the largest public parts database on the market. However, this database can also be pared down to fit specific needs without losing the depth of its content. For Exide Technologies, that means using ShowMeTheParts to help its retail partners find the right batteries for their customers, no matter the application.

As one of the world’s largest producers of batteries, Exide supplies products for private label brands as well as its own. By working with aftermarket tech leader Vertical Development, the company was able to utilize ShowMeTheParts for access to data on both types of product lines, creating a turn-key solution for retailers adding batteries to their stores.

More importantly, by using a digital format for delivering product data, Exide is able to provide retailers and customers with more information than is possible with a print catalog and ensure that the information is always up-to-date. It’s also easier to access, allowing anyone with a computer or mobile device to access the catalog.

Mid-States Distributing Company
, known as The Heart and Soul of Farm, Ranch and Home, is a 62-year-old cooperative comprised of 43 independent, farm, ranch and home retailers across the U.S. and Canada. Retail stores carry products ranging from pet supplies, power equipment, agricultural and automotive equipment and supplies, sporting goods, clothing and footwear to honey bees — a tremendous amount of variety. Having such a wide range of products means that customers could be looking for batteries to fit anything from marine products to tractors. A print catalog covering all the models and interchanges would be enormous, and with constant model changes, portions of it would always be out of date. That’s why Exide chose to go with ShowMeTheParts when creating a virtual catalog and mobile-friendly battery lookup site.

Mid-States partnered with Exide for their Durastart label, as well as some Exide branded products. Together, Exide and Vertical Development have created a mobile-friendly website at DurastartBatteries.com, so stores and customers alike can get parts information as soon as they start keeping stock.

“Implementing the ShowMeTheParts web catalog in both the desktop and mobile platform provides Exide customers like Mid-States with up-to-date application information for all the segments they serve, while covering the wide range of years their customers need. That is just not practical in a print format,” shared Lee Wilson, product information manager at Exide Technologies.

“Exide’s retail partners and consumers enjoy the convenience of having this data readily available and easy to access giving them the ability to search for their application and product information needs from any computer or mobile device,” he concluded.

With Exide adding information with each product release, the stores selling these batteries will always have the latest information right at their fingertips, and it’s still as accessible as any other ShowMeTheParts website or mobile app.

What if a store doesn’t have a specific battery in stock? By including dimensions and other specifications in the database, customers have the information they need to ensure they’re getting a perfect match even when they can’t compare old and new batteries side by side.

Ready to partner with Vertical Development to deliver your products more quickly and seamlessly to customers? Give us a call at 847.609.9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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AP Exhaust Launches New Mobile App Powered by ShowMeTheParts

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App Includes VIN and License Plate Lookup for Catalytic Converters

Recently, Vertical Development launched a collaboration with AP Exhaust Technologies, Inc. to power its new mobile app. The new AP Exhaust app, available for both iPhone and Android devices, makes it easy to find the correct part for one of the most strictly regulated pieces on cars today — catalytic converters. The AP Exhaust app zeros-in on the proper converter using information from the VIN, either by scanning a barcode or by entering the vehicle’s license plate number.

AP’s mobile app couples regular updates from the ShowMeTheParts database with the accuracy of VIN and license plate lookups to allow shops to feel confident that they are installing the correct converter.

“AP Exhaust is thrilled to announce the launch of our new mobile app, powered by Vertical Development’s ShowMeTheParts. Mechanics will find the license plate lookup feature most useful, since they will know the correct replacement parts for a vehicle upon the customer’s arrival or even when taking an appointment over the phone,” shared Gary Nix, director of marketing for AP Exhaust Technologies.

“Utilizing the ShowMeTheParts database and search functionality, the AP Exhaust app matches a license plate number with the correct VIN. The result is a list of compatible parts from all of AP’s lines, from ANSA and AP stock solutions to XLERATOR® and Silverline™ performance exhausts,” he concluded.

ShowMeTheParts is the most up-to-date public parts catalog available – with information on over 300+ suppliers and manufacturers of Aftermarket replacement parts. With lighting fast turnaround time, users can be assured the information is the most current available and published in the way the supplier intended it.

AP Exhaust adds items and interchanges to its lines regularly and releases a series of bulletins every month or two. With a traditional catalog, that would mean mechanics and parts professionals would need to cross-reference dozens of bulletins with the yearly paper catalog to find a match. With the ShowMeTheParts mobile integration, AP can add entries as soon as products are released, so users will always have up-to-date information when looking up catalytic converters using the new AP mobile app.

Vertical Development strives to be on the cutting edge of technology. We believe that utilizing the newest tech enables us to accomplish our mission of breaking down any roadblocks that exist between our users and the most current, correct data in the Aftermarket.

Ready to partner with Vertical Development to deliver your products to customers via mobile app? Give us a call at 847.609.9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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Vehicles in Operation (VIO) from Vertical Development: Supercharge Decision-Making for Your Aftermarket Parts Portfolio

vehicles in operation data

Request a Free Demo of Our VIO Feature

Leveraging the most recent, actionable data on vehicle registrations allows you to make profitable decisions about your parts portfolio. Aftermarket economics dictate that without a solid estimate of demand, you’re left in the dark on which parts to stock and supply.

As the importance of this type of vehicles in operation (VIO) data has increased, so has the challenge of acquiring it and integrating it into your inventory management flow.

In the past, finding the number of vehicles on the road for a particular make and model was rather straightforward using the old Legacy 7-digit code. Now, with new ACES data standards and over 40 fields serving as unique identifiers, determining your missing coverage and acting on it can be complex.

But not for Vertical Development’s clients. Our database and programming teams anticipated these challenges well before they were the talk of the marketplace. They spent years putting together a unique and powerful solution which allows you to easily, and cost-effectively, pull and integrate specific Vehicles in Operation (VIO) reports.

An Introduction to Vertical Development’s New Vehicles in Operation (VIO) Feature Included in Do-It-Yourself Catalog Systems

Our VIO reports leverage the latest statistics from the most trusted industry sources. These reports are capable of providing vehicle registration data and on-the-road intelligence at granular levels, including National coverage down to ZIP Code level.

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  • State-level vehicles in operation statistics
  • VIO reports based on vehicle specifications: make, model, year, and even body and engine type
  • On-demand VIO database searches that can be exported seamlessly into your parts inventory management process
  • Timely and reliable vehicle registration statistics from industry powerhouses
    o Experian Automotive’s AutoCount Vehicles in OperationSM database
    o IHS Automotive, driven by Polk

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From a Headache to a Money-Maker: Let Vertical Development’s New Feature Do the VIO Heavy-Lifting

For decades, Vertical Development has simplified aftermarket parts data technology for clients to maximize their efficiency and profit. Our vehicles in operation feature is no exception.

From the first interaction with our team, you will be dealing with automotive aftermarket experts who provide white-glove service. No call centers. No gimmicks. And our VIO offerings come with the same backing as all of our products and services: always on-time and on-quoted-cost.

It’s Easy to Learn More or Set Up a Free Demo

If you would like to receive more information about our Vehicles in Operation (VIO) feature or would like to set up a free demonstration of its functionality, contact us today. We look forward to serving you.

Request a Free Demo     Request More Information

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