How to Move Your Aftermarket Brand to the Top of Mobile Search Results

search-engine-friendly app

In the 21st century, effective advertising has branched out from the bounds of the TV screen to every computer and touchscreen in the world. Through search engine optimization, businesses can tailor the content of their websites not only to appeal to their target demographics, but also to appear in the top rankings of websites like Google when customers search for their products.

The principles of SEO are simple enough: Web designers and copywriters incorporate certain words and phrases into a website’s text so that the site shows up in search results for those same terms. The idea of optimizing is to appear as highly ranked as possible on search engines like Google and Bing.

Last year, the world found out that Google uses an artificial intelligence system, known as RankBrain, as part of its ranking software to help refine search results. According to Google, RankBrain is the third most crucial factor in the entire set of ranking algorithms. Additionally, RankBrain has a section of code dedicated to ranking for mobile devices. It helps mobile-friendly websites and apps appear in more advantageous positions in Google searches performed from smartphones and tablets.

According to recent data, fully 58 percent of Americans use smartphones; and 42 percent use tablets. On-the-go millennials use smartphones and tablets more often than their computers, especially for shopping. It’s true in the aftermarket industry as well. Aftermarket Business World estimates that just more than half of aftermarket professionals use a mobile device for work.
To reach all of these people, it is crucial for companies to have the right products in the right place at the right times to fill those needs, but keeping up with the changes in the tech world can be exhausting for many and downright impossible for most.

That’s where we come in…

Vertical Development has been helping aftermarket clients catalog and map information with our industry-leading software for more than 30 years. Our talented and dedicated team of programmers, coordinators and mapping experts work with aftermarket brands to make their catalog data accessible via mobile-friendly websites and apps.

What makes a website “mobile-friendly?”

There are quite a few features that differentiate a mobile-friendly site from other websites that users visit from their laptops or PCs, but generally speaking a mobile-friendly website will include:
• Easy-to-fill forms
• Intuitive interfaces
• Large touch screen buttons
• Font types and sizes that are easily read on smaller screens
• Minimal graphics that won’t devour large amounts of a user’s data plan

All in all, the point of a mobile-friendly website is to make it simple to find information and navigate the site’s contents using a smartphone. By combining your mobile-friendly site with a powerful mobile app, you can provide your customers and staff with a superior overall experience, offering unique features like push notifications for new products.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is visibility. There are currently more than 20 billion apps in the online marketplace today. You might think most of them are junk, but still one or more could belong to your competition. As mobile search algorithms get smarter and more sophisticated, they will continue to serve up content that is specifically tailored to the needs of mobile-device users, first.
Without moving your parts catalog to a mobile-friendly website or app, you’ll be relegated to the bottom of the heap.

Ready to partner with us to build your new mobile app? Give us a call at 847.609.9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com.

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2016 ACPN President’s Catalog Excellence Awards

acpn

Did you design your catalog with Vertical Development and ShowMeTheParts last year? If so, we know it’s award-winning material already! Get your acceptance speeches ready, awards season is open…

Recently, the Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN) announced its call for nominations for the 2016 ACPN President’s Catalog Excellence Awards. We’re excited to share this news with you and hope that you will consider taking some time to submit your catalog for this prestigious recognition. We know firsthand all of the hard work that you put in each year, and these awards recognize the best examples of printed and electronic cataloging in the auto care industry.

Do you have a new mobile app? Enter that too! Web and mobile applications are evaluated as well as paper catalogs. Visit the Auto Care Association website for judging criteria and instructions on how to enter your catalog today.

Winners will be recognized at the Knowledge Exchange Conference on May 15-18 in New Orleans, LA.

The deadline to submit your catalog is Friday January 29th, 2016.

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Why You Need a Mobile App

mobile app

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Over 58% of Americans own a smartphone and 42% own a tablet. Clearly, it makes sense to have mobile access for consumers, but what you may not realize is that this same level of mobile use carries over to the other side of the parts counter. Aftermarket Business World estimates that a little over half of aftermarket professionals use a mobile device for work.

As time goes on, more and more mechanics and parts people are reaching for their phones and tablets when looking for replacement parts. That’s why Vertical Development created ShowMeThePartsMobile. Now in its second version, this software makes it easy to turn your existing parts catalog into a mobile app or website that makes finding parts easier for customers, employees, and your field sales force.

What is “Mobile Friendly?”
Standard web interfaces are built with computers in mind, which means the user is accessing the site from a device with a large screen, a mouse, a keyboard and an Internet connection with fast, unlimited data. If you try to use one of these sites on a phone, then it becomes rapidly apparent why they aren’t suited to mobile devices. For example, filling out basic search information turns into an arduous task that involves slow load times, constantly zooming in and out to read text and frequent use of an on-screen keyboard.

A well-designed mobile app is built with touch screens and limited Internet access in mind. That means large text that is easy to read, large buttons that are easy to press, and simplified design elements that are fast to load. Long forms are broken into separate pages so that the user can see everything they need on a single screen instead of scrolling and zooming into multiple areas. Put all of that together, and a good mobile site allows users to navigate and find what they need far faster than they would on a regular website.

There’s also one other clear advantage that mobile devices have over computers: they can be brought to the vehicle needing the part.

Consumers and techs alike can make side-by-side comparisons between catalog photos and the part that needs to be replaced without having to remove the part from the vehicle. When a customer brings a vehicle to your store, your employees can enter information as they find it on the vehicle, virtually eliminating the chances of making mistakes.

Is It Difficult to Go Mobile?
It’s probably easier and more economical than you think. ShowMeThePartsMobile is built as a module that integrates easily with Vertical Development’s software, making it simple to create a mobile version of your current ShowMeTheParts-based catalog.

Not using ShowMeTheParts yet? The software also works with catalogs formatted to the Auto Care Association’s ACES format, so we can easily transform your data into a mobile-friendly application.

ShowMeThePartsMobile has the same powerful search tools as our standard database, including features like License Plate and VIN lookups. Participating Aftermarket DIYs, Installers, Jobbers, Repair Shops, and Warehouses now have instant access to the most up-to-date parts information for more than 300 brands covering over 95 million applications. Parts professionals can access these brands which cover more than 4,100 part types and include important information including complete coverage for 1.7 million parts with 4.4 million attributes, 8.7 million interchanges, 18 thousand documents and 2.8 million images.

ShowMeThePartsMobile also has unique features aimed at mobile users including integrated GPS to help customers find their way to the nearest store location to buy a replacement part.

Already have a mobile site? Our software can be adapted to have the same look and feel of your existing site while giving users access to the powerful search tools and information.

Which Devices Does ShowMeThePartsMobile Support?
Mobile apps for both iOS and Android can be built using ShowMeThePartsMobile, and they can be made available to users through the Apple App Store and Google Play. Mobile sites built with our tools are 100% HTML5, so they work in any modern browser, letting users on any platform from Blackberry to Windows Mobile access your parts catalog.

What are you waiting for?
Going mobile makes it even easier for your customers to do business with you and it can help your staff work with them to find the parts they need. Simply put, if your business isn’t mobile-friendly and accessible, then your customers will find one that is.

Ready to partner with us 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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A Look Back on an Amazing Year!

happy holidays

In the book A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens wrote “there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor,” and there’s certainly an ample supply of both this time of year.

Between relaxing with friends, reconnecting with relatives, cooking up dishes from old family recipes, and reliving family traditions, even Scrooge would have to admit that there’s a lot to enjoy. All of us at Vertical Development would like to take this time to thank you for your business and wish you a happy holiday season!

As the year comes to a close, it’s a good time to take a step back and reflect on the many accomplishments, while looking forward to our future goals.

It’s been a busy year at Vertical Development. We moved to new offices in Naperville and joined the industry dialogue on Facebook and Twitter – be sure to stop by and follow us. We also launched ShowMeThePartsMobile 2.0, added license plate lookup to ShowMeTheParts, began making 360-degree parts photos and partnered with Web2Market to bring a complete online commerce system to market. Our favorite highlights of the year include meeting with some of you at SEMA, AAPEX and the NCMA Knowledge Exchange.

We know you’ve been busy, too. We now have 320 brands working together with us on ShowMeTheParts, helping to maintain its place as the largest, most up-to-date public aftermarket parts database on the market.

Meanwhile, online aftermarket parts sales have skyrocketed with sales expected to break $6 billion this year, making it more important than ever for everyone in the industry from manufacturers to local stores to add better web and mobile access. Building the software needed for this shift toward more web and mobile-based integrations is truly a team effort, and we’d like to thank our customers for working together with us to make parts ordering easier and more accessible. We look forward to working with you for many years to come.

While the parts business is important to all of us, this is also the time to take a well-deserved break and connect with what’s really important: friends and family. Whether you’re winding down production for the year or you are finally getting a break from the barrage of holiday orders, we here at Vertical Development would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Our office will be closed on December 24th and 25th, as well as January 1st. In case of an emergency, please call our office number and follow the prompts, 630-724-1159.

Happy Holidays!

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New Vertical Development Website Provides Access to a Suite of Software and Services

new vertical development website

Vertical Development, Inc. recently launched a new responsive corporate website to support its brands and services.

Vertical Development, Inc. has launched a new mobile-friendly website in support of its Vertical Development and ShowMeTheParts brands, which centralizes our product solutions and showcases the ways we help our customers save time, and money by providing solution-driven technology and user-friendly software solutions. The site offers details on both Services and Systems offered, with client testimonials, including feature-and-benefit information.

With more than 30 years of experience as a technology provider to the Aftermarket, Vertical Development has built a suite of powerful tools for managing parts information – satisfying eCatalog, eCommerce and Print requirements.

As a business owner or industry executive, it’s your job to help translate the vision for your company into an actionable plan for your team to follow. Many times, we see company leaders get bogged down in solving the issues of the day-to-day business operations. They forget to look up and lookout, until competitors – are nipping closely at their heels. Vertical Development and ShowMeTheParts will help bridge that gap.

In our decades of work with Aftermarket companies, we’ve seen these challenges firsthand and we’ve built a knowledge base with resources that are unmatched in the industry. We love working with our clients to help them keep their competitive edge through technology. In this way, we partner with our clients to serve as an innovation consultant and share what’s on the horizon in the world of software and applications.

If your goal is to deliver your products and services to customers quickly and easily, then our job is to power that delivery through the latest technology innovations and software updates.

We encourage you to visit our new website and take a quick tour. As you visit with us, keep the following points in mind:

We build technology that makes it simple to get up to speed — no matter how big or small your business is. You can begin to learn more about our products from the Products tab on our home page, hover there and you’ll gain easy access to information on our vCatalog Solutions, Mapping Solutions, and ShowMeTheParts.

Our vCatalog database lets you create catalogs in-house, publishing directly online and mapping to industry formats which include ACES, NAPA PartsPro, PAdb, PIES – letting you work with online partners seamlessly. In fact, we’ve been involved in ACES and PIES since the standards were created. In addition, our vCatalog system will generate missing coverage reports to show you exactly where you need to add information, cutting down on errors so you will get your catalog approved quicker.

Do-It-For-Me — Not big enough to have a department dedicated to generating catalogs? We offer Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) services to do the work for you, keeping your information updated for your partners.

Getting up and running is easy, too. Our products are designed and developed right here in the U.S., which means the same people who develop our software are also helping you with support. You can learn more about our team of experts from the About Us tab on our new website.

When setting up a new system, you’ll be working with a two person team, allowing easy communication and fast changes to get up and running on-time and on-budget with a solution tailored to your business’s needs.

ShowMeTheParts-Mobile. With the recently released ShowMeThePartsMobile 2.0, your parts people and customers can access the entire ShowMeTheParts database straight from a tablet or smart phone using a fast, simple interface.

We’ll keep you in the know. You can stay updated on the latest Aftermarket tech news and product updates with our free monthly newsletter. Sign up today and while you’re visiting the site, check out our blog for the latest news on our recent projects and collaborations, as well as product updates like our new license plate lookup. When you sign up for our monthly newsletter, you will get our latest aftermarket news right in your inbox and you will be the first to know. Now that’s a true competitive edge!

We’re excited about our new VerticalDev.com website. We hope you find it to be a rich resource of information and a comprehensive guide for your technology needs.

Ready to partner with us 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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Fewer Mistakes + Fewer Returns with the New License Plate Lookup Feature on ShowMeTheParts

smtp license plate

Sometimes, the biggest obstacle when finding the right part is correctly identifying the vehicle it’s being used on. A VIN has all the information you need to identify a vehicle’s construction from the manufacturer to the engine, making it easy to narrow down parts to those that will fit correctly. Unfortunately, it’s also 17 digits long and is placed in locations that make it hard to read.

There’s a better chance that the customer will know the vehicle’s make, model, year and engine, but some options may be hard to identify: sometimes there will be multiple automatic or manual transmissions, engines with identical displacements but differing internal components, and even multiple final gear options. This gets even more complicated when automakers make running changes which can mean two vehicles from the same year won’t use the same parts.

Now there’s an easy way to correctly identify a vehicle: the license plate. It’s easy to remember, easy to find, and can provide as much information as the VIN. That means fewer errors and fewer returns on incorrect parts. Vertical Development has added this feature to the ShowMeTheParts database, making its exhaustive list of parts even more useful.

Information about vehicles including the license number, VIN and title information is part of the public record. Normally, this data is used by dealerships to correctly identify parts, or in recall campaigns to assure the correct vehicle is identified every time, but Vertical Development can now gather this information and use it to help techs searching for parts in the ShowMeTheParts database.

Parts companies can add their brands and product lines to the ShowMeTheParts.com database, where end users will have instant access to find them via the new license plate look up feature. In addition, companies using ShowMeTheParts to power their own online catalogs or mobile apps can now take advantage of this new exciting feature.

To take a tour of the new license plate lookup feature and discuss how it can help your brand or company, please give us a call (847) 609-9540.

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Vertical Development’s ShowMeTheParts Software Powers New Valvoline™ Filters and Wipers Website and Mobile App

App Includes VIN Lookup and VIN Barcode Scanning

valvoline mobile app

ShowMeTheParts Software Powers New Valvoline™ Mobile App

ShowMeTheParts (a division of Vertical Development, Inc.) recently completed a collaboration with Valvoline to power its new filters and wipers website and mobile app. The website, available at valvolinefilters.com and valvolinewipers.com, provides an updated buyers guide and electronic searchable catalog where visitors can query to find the Valvoline parts they need. The new Valvoline mobile app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.

“Valvoline is excited to announce this new website along with the addition of a new mobile app — all powered by ShowMeTheParts part look-up software. The mobile app includes VIN look-up and VIN barcode scanning capability. These new tools will improve our customer’s access to valuable information,” said Tim Latham, Valvoline Global Product Manager.

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Saluting Our Heroes on Veteran’s Day

saluting our heroes

Welcome to the month of Thanksgiving and pumpkin spice everything … November is such an amazing month! It’s the kick-off to the holiday season, a time for family and turkey, and all the guys are growing moustaches in support of Movember, a movement to raise awareness about men`s health.

November is also a month when we pause to salute our veterans, with Veterans Day on November 11. In 2012, November was also declared “Military Family Month” in an effort to raise awareness of the sacrifices that military families make every day.

Many businesses recognize this sacrifice and work to give back to veterans and their families. The automotive industry, in particular, shows its support in many ways, but more specifically by hiring service men and women.

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Perfection Hy-Test: In The Spotlight

PerfectionPerfection Hy-Test implemented Vertical Development Cataloging technology in 2014 and has continued to expand their capabilities.  We wanted to share some comments from Bob Sterling – Catalog Manager Perfection Hy-Test.

“The Vertical program has allowed us to gain total control over our extensive product information. We are now able to manage our application data, part attributes and cross reference information in a single easy-to-use environment. The flexibility of outputs allows us to meet all of our customer’s demands effectively and efficiently.”

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New Spanish-Language eCat!

Our Spanish web sites are now mobile friendly! – ShowMeTheParts has released a new mobile-friendly branded site our manufacturer partners can deploy in HTML5 form and in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This Spanish enabled site can be run on Android and Apple Smartphones and Tablets. Using the flexibility of the Auto Care Association ACES standard we are able to work with our manufacturer partners to deploy custom branded catalogs for their Latin America markets.

Click images below to view at full size

GMB Spanish
SKF Spanish
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