Auto Parts Aftermarket Online, e-Commerce and all that PART 1: What’s it all about and why should I care?

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Reprinted from Undercar Review magazine – April 2014 issue 

By Jim Gurieff of PARts Australia www.partsdb.com.au

PART 1: What’s it all about and why should I care?

In 1997 the Australian new vehicle market was around 650,000 units and of that, Falcon and Commodore platforms accounted for over 200,000 or 30% of the total new cars sold.

Jump to 2013 and the number of new cars sold was over 1.13 million and of that, less than 70,000 were Commodore or Falcon based.

Meanwhile, the AAAA reports as part of its latest industry report – “Workshops and repairers crave an integrated vehicle and product fitment lookup with VIN and service data as part of a point-of-sale solution.”

With over 200 unique new models added to the Australian market in 2013 we now have one of the most diverse vehicle markets in the world spread over a relatively small volume base. With the demise of local manufacturing and an inevitable pure import market the industry has to adjust to knowing more about more vehicles at an increasing rate.

At the same time, the range of product available today is more diverse than ever before so accurate and timely service and product information is even more important.

Customers Looking For Outcomes

To add another layer of complexity, our customers are using the web more and more for product reviews, service information and price shopping for products and services while increasingly demanding of the way in which this information is provided. I want it now and when  it suits me.

So back to the question, why should I and the undercar industry care?

Because every industry needs to adapt to the changing environment and the connected digital world is accelerating the rate of change.

We are product and service providers and we need to remember that the end user customer or consumer is actually looking for outcomes and not just parts or service. They are most often driven by the need to repair a fault, pass registration, upgrade their vehicle or any number of other actual outcomes.

It’s rare that a vehicle owner wakes up one day and thinks that replacing their muffler would be a good thing to do that day. So when they do think about the problem, potential outcome and solution, all the industry players need to be ready to provide the answers and solution.

In simple terms, it’s about giving the customer what they want. A simple enough statement but not always considered by some in the aftermarket parts industry.

The following has been put together in conjunction with one of our digital and online specialist marketing partners, Enform Networks. This 2-part summary pulls together research, advice and case studies from various sources to help explain the current environment and the where the market might be headed.

The last few years have seen an explosion in online retail sales of auto parts. Major players like Amazon and eBay are enjoying  significant growth in many sectors of online retail sales and that clearly includes auto parts and related products. IBlSWorld reports a 13.3% annualised growth in Australian online automotive parts and accessories sales between 2008 to 2013 while US numbers are even stronger.

Clearly we are seeing a migration toward online fulfilment of retail consumer demand while trade and reseller purchases are moving toward closed user group solutions offered by the industry wholesalers and their business-to-business (B2B) portals. Many of the same wholesalers are also offering retail solutions to complement existing bricks-and-mortar or physical services with many more building virtual stores and online outlets that often exceed the service delivery offer available through their retail store fronts, try free shipping direct to the customer’s door!

Future projections are equally bullish with continuing double digit growth expected across all categories with reports specifically mentioning traditional “hard parts” categories including undercar brakes, shocks and suspension.

So it’s not just “S & G” lines (as the hard parts purists sometimes call accessories) but all manner of parts. This is an important misconception that poses one of the biggest threats to traditional parts sales and service thinking and is just one area of Significant risk to parts suppliers and sellers.

Along with our online specialist partners, we try to help our clients adapt to the changing nature of customer expectations and their channel preferences because after all, it’s about giving the customer what they want and also where they want it.

It’s natural to resist change. This applies to every level of the distribution chain and across all industries but some businesses are more resistant than others.

The area of data standards is particularly tough as suppliers and sellers struggle to defend and justify their own carefully cultivated data silos. Having worked in the aftermarket for a few decades, I’ve seen the changes to fitment cataloguing and product data creation and management.

Once the digital age picked up speed in the ’90s, we saw the beginning of the age of data-divergence as more and more suppliers and sellers built their own data solutions imagining that this would somehow provide a significant and durable commercial edge. In many cases it did and some of these are still working well however for many others, it proved to be a distraction and a costly diversion from the core business of making, selling and servicing parts.


After all, how many different versions of a Commodore VT 6 cylinder sedan data record do we really need?

The ’00s saw a maturing of the discreet data silo model as more and more sellers realised that having “another industry standard” that their suppliers would need to contribute to was actually working against them both in terms of cost and support. Meanwhile, the European parts suppliers created the Tee Doc industry standard (as one example) and the AAIA in the US launched the ACES/PIES system to help their industry.

The last few years have seen an acceleration towards standardisation with more and more suppliers and sellers adopting some sort of standard, a time of data-convergence. This is good news for both the industry and consumer and helps the aftermarket compete better while supporting the aims of programs like the AAAA Choice of Repairer campaign.Which leads us back to the real point and reason for the automotive parts aftermarket, selling more aftermarket products to auto parts consumers!

Online channels are not a silver bullet to rescue flagging sales. It’s a different way to market and requires different skills and resources and doesn’t suit all types of products. However, according to the National Australia Bank, the value of annualised online retail sales for the 12 months to end February 2013 was $13.1 billion or 5.9% of all retail spending with a year-on-year growth of 19%.

If you don’t have an online strategy or your strategy is not delivering that sort of growth rate, you’re falling behind. Embrace the opportunity and make sure you’re visible where your customers are.

Next time we’ll look at some practical ideas, suggestions and case studies to help you think about a strategy that suits you.

PARts DB Launches a New Website

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PARts DB, a TecDoc integrated automotive product and fitment e-cosystem has launched its new website, viewable at www.partsdb.com.au

PARts is a Sydney based venture that has been changing the way Australian automotive suppliers, wholesalers and sellers have been using product data to enhance their business.

TecDoc is the world’s largest automotive product and fitment data aggregator and is owned by the parts suppliers themselves. It was formed in 1998 to create a uniform vehicle and product description standard to allow over 500 suppliers to broadcast and share their product data with their customers. Through PARts, Australian suppliers and brands can now connect to sellers and the market providing their product data to their customer using a global, unified standard.

The PARts data feeds and synchronisation allows manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers alike to access PARts supplier data and TecDoc subscribed supplier data covering over 500 leading global brands and local brands. The system is well suited for retail and workshop performance, 4×4 and accessory markets.

PARts is a permission based system and allows manufacturers and brand owners to manage their data and control its distribution. Parts distributors and sellers can also manage and control the brands and supplier data they see while adding and enhancing the data with custom titles and notation for their own network.

The new website portal allows potential customers to learn about the functionality of the PARts system and learn about how it integrates with a variety of other services and software products, such as eBay MVL, Autosoft, Peach Business Software, Flow, Channel Advisor and Neto.

The website provides a wide variety of links so customers can find the integrated solution that suits their business including PARts Console for real time data management, PARts B2 for B2B e-commerce and a variety of links and resources for total product management.

Enform is an experienced integration partner for PARts, we can assist in getting your PARts product database to your customers, whether it be through your website, B2B solution, eBay or otherwise. We believe that PARts forms the foundation for an extremely effective product marketing strategy, and with appropriate integration it can dramatically expand the information your customers have about your products and increase sales.

eBay Adds TecDoc Product Fitment Data Service

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eBay PARts TecDoc

eBay auto parts and accessory sellers can now link to product and fitment data for over 500 global and Australian supplier brands for direct display and listing on eBay Australia.

TecDoc Australia and eBay Australia have concluded negotiations that allow eBay sellers to access TecDoc Parts Data securely simplifying online selling for auto parts and accessories. This deal means that any eBay parts and accessories seller who concludes a contract with TecDoc for a data package can have that data package made available within the eBay environment.

“Its the logical next step to add supplier product and fitment data to the vehicle KTYPE information already powering the eBay vehicle look-up. This makes it that much easier for eBay sellers to get on with selling leaving the data management to suppliers. Our arrangement with Enform PARts means local suppliers can also enjoy the benefits.“  says Andrew Mattock from TecDoc Asia Pacific.

TecDoc data packages include product, fitment and image data for over 1.0 million part links to Australian and import vehicles.  This data includes vehicle fitment links and is maintained by the supplier allowing the data subscriber or seller to list all the available product and fitment details. You can read more about TecDoc here.

This is facilitated by Enform PARts of Sydney who also aggregate and distribute product and fitment data for many leading local suppliers using the TecDoc back bone. This allows TecDoc global data to be blended and distributed with local supplier data. Enform PARts will deploy all of the relevant linked data into the active section of eBay Australia allowing the eBay seller to focus on merchandising using their price and stock information.

PARts is a permission based system so suppliers and sellers have full control of who sees their data and in what environment. PARts includes a full management and admin system in the cloud allowing suppliers and sellers to interact and manage their data. The key point being, it’s the suppliers and sellers data. You can read more about PARts here.

The service mirrors similar agreements between TecDoc and eBay UK, Germany and other online channels. You can read more about eBay and parts compatibility here.

Repco Moves to Synch with TecDoc

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TecDoc Repco PARts auto fitment data

TecDoc and Repco (GPC Asia) concluded a deal Friday 6/9/13, for Repco to sync their Navigator system with TecDoc KTYPEs for Australia and New Zealand. This will enable Repco to use KTYPEs as a broadcast code to brands already using KTYPEs

“This is great news for Australian auto parts brands and suppliers that already link to TecDoc vehicle KTYPES as they can now provide product and fitment data direct to Repco using this data. It also makes it easier for suppliers to broadcast product data to a growing group of TecDoc subscribers using data aggregators “  says Andrew Mattock from TecDoc Asia Pacific.

TecDoc is the world’s largest automotive product and fitment data aggregator and is owned by the parts suppliers themselves. It was formed in 1998 to create a uniform vehicle and product description standard to allow over 500 suppliers to broadcast and share their product data with their customers.

TecDoc Australia through PARts is helping the Australian parts aftermarket to lower cost of data creation and aggregation by promoting the standard and data feeds from participating suppliers. Through PARts, Australian suppliers can now connect to the same standard and provide their product data to their customer using a global, unified standard. You can read more about TecDoc here.

PARts is a permission based system so suppliers and sellers have full control of who sees their data and in what environment. PARts includes a full management and admin system in the cloud allowing suppliers and sellers to interact and manage their data. The key point being, it’s the suppliers and sellers data. You can read more about PARts here.

PARts can also integrate with online market places like eBay which use TecDoc KTYPES to power their master vehicle list (MVL) and fitment look-up. That is, once a product is connected or linked to KTYPES through PARts it can be listed on eBay for easy look up by retail customers. You can read more about eBay and parts compatibility here.

Repco is a division of GPC Asia which is arguably the largest automotive aftermarket parts specialist channel in Australia and New Zealand. The group also includes other product and service brands like Motospecs and Ashdown-Ingram. More details here.

eBay teams up with Enform!

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We have got some exciting news! eBay have selected Enform PARts as one of their Professional Services to help sellers to list their parts and/or accessories on eBay Motors using the newly launched Master Vehicle List (MVL).

Starting November 15th, eBay buyers will be able to lookup spare parts and accessories that fit their vehicle. Enform PARts are helping eBay sellers and parts suppliers to map their product to the MVL to ensure that their Parts Compatibility database is current, accurate and simple to use for both buyer and seller.

Enform PARts uses TecDoc vehicle numbers to help link Australian suppliers parts to a standard vehicle and product system. eBay Australia selected TecDoc as the standard they too would use to power their MVL.

Bottom line? Australian supplier part data connected to TecDoc through Enform PARts means connection to eBay MVL for easier and accurate listing on this growing channel.

eBay’s Parts Compatibility using MVL allows sellers to show all vehicles that are compatible with a part or number in a single listing, saving time and money allowing for easier and accurate search for the buyer, this should help result in fewer queries and returns. [Click here to view eBay’s Fitment page]

How it works?

Parts compatibility uses the Master Vehicle list (MVL) database where over 37,000 models of cars are listed. Thereby providing a single database where sellers are able to match vehicles with the various parts that they are selling and have available.

The simplicity that PARts provides wholesaler, dealer and traders has not gone unnoticed. In fact, eBay has recognised the intelligence and benefits to implement such a database into their site and have partnered with Enform to include this system into their PARt’s compatibility page.

This allows for easier mapping of parts and accessories suited to the specific vehicle model in one simple database. Data can be shared with wholesalers, dealer and other stakeholders on a worldwide platform through a secure cloud hosted database.

The integrated product provides the following solutions:


–          Complete Vehicle Fitment Management Solution

–          Product and Fitment Data Distribution

–          Integrates with leading online retail systems like Magento, Joomla VM

–          Delivers your data to retail channels like eBay using the MVL*

Simply, the more organised your database, the more trustworthy you seem and more likely, a higher customer satisfaction rate.

Explore PARts by visiting http://www.partsdb.com.au/  or contact Enform about a demonstration or further details on data mapping or parts fitment related services. Created in conjunction with TecDoc Australia, eBay has teamed up with Enform and PARts to help promote an on-line e-commerce data standard for the automotive parts and accessories market.

The aim is to create a single online fitment data standard to lower overall costs, increase speed to market while retaining USP’s for sellers and suppliers. By connecting with TecDoc standards our supplier and parts seller partner clients are able to cost effectively pursue the emerging opportunities in the online retail space.

Enform and TecDoc Australia Unveil PARts

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Enform recently announced the release of its PARts product application data solution. The solution was created as part of a deal between Enform and TecDoc Australia, and is specifically geared towards dealers, wholesalers and manufacturers in the automotive aftermarket industry.

PARts is the first integrated system of its kind to use a global vehicle industry standard for sharing information about products with staff, clients and dealers. PARts is also capable of powering a company’s entire printed catalogue through a cloud database on the Web acting as a single product management solution.

Enform collaborated with TecDoc Solutions to tap into the company’s vehicle and product  classification database. From there, Enform developed a host of web based and desktop tools to control the system. Enform’s PARts system features a web hosted master database giving the convenience of cloud storage, paired with a unique range of SaaS (software as a service) tools.

Perhaps one of the best things about PARts is that it focuses on end-to-end solutions, and can even be connected to other standard data systems, such as North America’s ACES PIES standard. This effectively makes it far easier for manufacturers to transfer information and manage their customers’ web stores, regardless of which major market in the world they’re in.

Enform has designed PARts in a way that allows retailers and wholesalers to use the system to view supplier data registered with TecDoc. Users can do this thanks to a system-enhanced module that enables one to add unique “enhanced” data along with supplier data.

PARts is especially suitable for manufacturers of 4×4 and performance aftermarket products thanks to its ability to power retail websites like eBay that require media-rich content and higher levels of product detail.

For more details see our product CMS case studies and PARts DB pages