Heavy duty product data standards go live

Jan. 29, 2020
Years in development, the standards are designed to improve the efficiency of parts listing, search and purchase throughout the independent aftermarket supply chain.

GRAPEVINE, TX. Billed as “the Rosetta stone” for product presentation, HDDA: Heavy Duty has rolled out its long-anticipated data standards solution for the heavy duty aftermarket.

As unveiled at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW), the data standards are offered as a new expansion of the Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) and provides nearly two dozen product categories in Heavy Duty data through the Auto Care Vehicle Information Portal (Auto Care VIP).

Using PIES, heavy duty businesses can now access product data standards, which serve as a guideline for the industry’s best practices for communicating product information between heavy duty aftermarket suppliers and its selling chain under one format.

The standards represent a multi-year, multi-party effort to integrate the latest in business technology with rapidly changing vehicle technology, explained Bill Hanvey, Auto Care Association president and CEO.  He emphasized that improved efficiency in the aftermarket supply chain benefits everyone: parts suppliers, distributors, and their customers.

“As margin pressures increase, every decimal point of margin that we have in this marketplace is invaluable. And if we can, help to bring back a tenth of a percent or two or three percent—to help preserve the independent aftermarket—that's my job,” Hanvey said. “And that's why I signed up four years ago for this project. And I'm thrilled to announce that today we have launched.”

Matthew Marsh, director, e-catalog, for FleetPride Inc., likened today’s most veteran parts sales personnel to the legendary John Henry, renowned for his strength and tunnel digging ability—but who was eventually replaced by machines. Simply, the age of the counter-rack of printed catalogs is past, and digital databases will put content-rich product descriptions at the fingertips of often less-experienced sales people. And uniform product standards are critical to an efficient system that will allow the independent aftermarket industry to compete with manufacturer-affiliated dealers and repair shops.

“The OE dealers can get a kid fresh out of high school to put on the counter who can solve problems, because he's got access to that information,” Marsh said. “And he appears to be an expert.”

Indeed, as FleetPride began building its own digital search tool to make the expertise of a parts veteran available to someone new to the business, it became clear that “good, solid data” simply wasn’t readily available, Marsh continued. But now, with the new product information standards, the independent aftermarket will share a common language.

“This touches every piece of the supply chain, from manufacturer to third-party distributors or middleman, all the way to our front counter person, giving us consistent, reliable data,” Marsh said. “And of course, when you've got standards, you end up getting a lot of third-party helpers—people that know how to process that data to make it run efficiently, and can help take some of those tasks off your team.”

Through the use of data standards, according to HDDA: Heavy Duty, businesses are able to:

  • Enable and facilitate digital strategies and e-commerce: streamlining product information generation, increasing speed to market;
  • Increase sales, decrease returns: reducing ordering and shipping errors with data sent and understood correctly; and
  • Provide better customer service: ensuring complete and replete product information is available for customer support at the counter and on the web.

With 20 years of expertise in providing aftermarket product data standards, the PIES expansion to include Heavy Duty data can reduce the “cost of doing business” for heavy duty companies by up to 20%—which could translate to potential business profit improvement of 2-3%. The introduction of heavy duty data to PIES signifies a 50% increase in total VIP Product Attribute database (PAdb) data coverage and 85% of all parts sold across the industry. The addition of Heavy Duty data into PIES covers:

  • 20 product categories
  • 9,000+ components
  • 63,000+ attributes   

For more information about heavy duty standards, or to subscribe visit autocare.org/hdstandards or contact Sheila Andrews, community liaison, at [email protected] or Scott Howat, business development executive, at [email protected].  

HDDA: Heavy Duty, a community of the Auto Care Association, is the only community that serves the entire heavy duty aftermarket supply chain, from manufacturers, to distributors, retail and repair.

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor