How Mapping Solutions Can Help Properly Format Your Raw Data

Mapping Solutions

Whether your company manufactures parts, distributes them, or sells them to retail and fleet customers, at some point you’ll have to deal with mapping. Today, 70% of the parts sold in the aftermarket are mapped to e-Catalog systems. Despite the “e-” in the name, these catalog systems are the backbone of print, online and CD-based catalogs used throughout the industry.

What does mapping do?

It turns raw data into a standard, portable form. For retailers, it means they can request a specific format from their suppliers and transfer that information directly into their own catalog. For suppliers, it means they can update their mapped catalog and send it out to their buyers without having to make alterations for each use. With fewer steps between the manufacturer and the customer, that means fewer errors and faster turnaround.

How does it work?

Let’s use the Auto Care Association Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) and the Automotive Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) as an example. These two standards are commonly used in catalog mapping with PIES handling part attributes and ACES handling vehicle attributes. With PIES, a part can be labeled with standard identifiers including the manufacturer, product attributes, part interchanges, dimensions and digital information including photos. ACES contains vehicle information including makes, models and equipment, as well as identifiers in the VIN number to determine a vehicle’s equipment. Put them together, and you can search for a specific vehicle, match it to compatible parts, and then compare those parts by their design attributes. This lets customers do an apples-to-apples comparison of parts across lines and manufacturers to make sure they’re buying exactly what they need. On the business side, only the necessary attributes need to be added and transmitted: information like pricing isn’t required, and once a complete catalog has been created, smaller catalogs can then be generated to cover retailer’s specific needs depending on the parts lines and types of vehicles they deal with.

How do you turn your parts data into these standard formats?

That’s where Vertical Development comes in. We don’t just design mapping software; we’ve worked with industry partners to help develop mapping standards. Our tools can turn your paper catalog data into e-Catalog data following a number of standards including ACES, PIES, and NAPA PartsPro, for delivery to Epicor, NAPA, ShowMeTheParts,WHi and other trading partners. If you still need raw information, pages can be saved in PDF format so they can be read on any computer.

If you can use office software, you can use Vertical Development’s catalog software. Our vCat system uses a simple, intuitive interface with no need to know XML or Microsoft Access, and it can run on a single server or computer. Don’t have the resources to create your own catalog? We have Do It For Me (DIFM) services to help you prepare your catalogs. Later on, if you choose to bring cataloging in house, we can help you make the switch, using the same tools used in-house for an easy transition.

Let Vertical Development’s Tools Help You Build Your Catalog

Vertical Development’s tools are built in modules that work together, so once you create a catalog in one format, it can easily be ported to another. Want to move to online catalogs? Add your information to our extensive ShowMeTheParts database, or use SMTP as the base for your own website. Managing inventory? Our Vehicles in Operation (VIO) module shows you what vehicles are on the road down to the county level and cross-references them with compatible parts to make sure you’ll always stock the parts your customers will need. Best of all, you only need to buy the modules that you need, and additional modules can be added down the line. That means your catalog can always be expanded or ported to different formats later on as the needs of your business change.

Call us at (847) 609-9540 or email sales@verticaldev.com to get started today!