If you want to do the impossible–make more money in less time within the automotive aftermarket industry–we have good news. It’s all about ACES and PIES.

ACES and PIES Ultimate Guide

ACES and PIES Explained

Spoiler alert: this has nothing to do with playing cards or desserts.

ACES and PIES are standards for the automotive industry that categorize vehicle and parts information within a pre-existing database. ACES and PIES is used with a digital vehicle, parts or fitment catalog. A Product Classification Database (PCdb) is an example of one of these catalogs.

However, they are not their own catalogs where you can look up parts that you’re trying to sell. They need a database to partner with in order to work. ACES and PIES data efficiently categorizes aftermarket auto parts, making them that much easier to track, sort, and identify.

There’s no confusion, no creating your own categorization system, just an information map that anyone in the industry can access and trust.

Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES)

ACES, or Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard, categorizes parts according to their application data. Application data includes a range of information, and always tells you what parts work in which specific vehicles.

What’s more, ACES data includes the year, make, model, and part type. It also includes the brand, part number, and part type, along with information about application fitment. Fitment is an automotive industry term that means, quite simply, if and how a part fits a specific vehicle model. Fitment data can include a vehicle’s make, model, year, engine, transmission, and a whole lot more.

Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES)

PIES, or Product Information Exchange Standard, categorizes parts according to their product information. This information is all about identifying the product by its measurement, composition, and origin.

PIES data includes information like product number, price, dimensions, kits, UPC codes, hazardous materials information, weight, brand ID, and so on. It helps you identify parts by referencing the product itself, not so much its function.

The Difference Between ACES and PIES

  1. The tables underneath ACES (such as the VCdb) require a subscription to access all that extra product information, but PIES is available to anyone without paying to use it. That means one will tap into your budget a little more than the other.
  2. PIES identifies the product clearly but doesn’t give all the added functional information that ACES provides. PIES data gives you the details of the product itself, not simply what it does, but ACES enables you to know with which vehicles a product can be used.
  3. ACES data is divided into two accessible databases. These require a paid subscription to access. Meanwhile, there are several different PIES subscription services to choose from. You may need to more carefully consider which PIES database to use for your business.

In a nutshell, ACES is about action. What action does the part serve in the vehicle? How? In what specific vehicles? ACES clues you in on these details.

PIES is about products. What is the brand name? What about the price tag? PIES will help you describe product dimensions, popularity, country of origin, and other aspects of the product.

ACES and PIES identify different qualities of parts in the product search journey. Together, they create a whole data picture that enables users to find the parts they’re looking for in a database.

For example, a buyer can use ACES data to identify parts that will work for a specific vehicle, and then partner it with PIES data to compare pricing or manufacturer information.

In reverse, a seller can use PIES data to understand product pricing and trends, and then expand your product listing information to include compatible vehicle information.

Thanks to ACES and PIES, automotive aftermarket parts can be bought and sold with more confidence and efficiency for everyone involved.

ACES and PIES Standards

All of this ACES and PIES data isn’t decided by just anyone. There are standards for how parts are classified and organized, set up by the Auto Care Association.

ACES and PIES logos

Standards Governance

The Auto Care Association (ACA) publishes ACES and PIES standards. The information included in these standards is created by ACA members under the management of a branch of the ACA called the Technology Standards Committee (TSC). They operate independently from the Auto Care Association leadership to maintain fair and clear standards.

Consistency of the Standards

The Technology Standards Committee’s volunteer leaders manage the changes made to industry standards over time. These standards are updated each month. Updates include new products and vehicles added to the market. This also includes data submitted by system users, data that is reviewed by the TSC for verification. This means that the data changes as the market changes, keeping ACES and PIES relevant.

The Standards You Need to Know

Depending on your products, you’ll have different standards required and AutoCare does provide documentation on required, recommended, and optional data. For example, here are a few that would apply to a typical automotive parts supplier:

  • Brand
  • Part number
  • Vehicle fitment (if your products aren’t universal)
  • Etc.

If you’re a reseller, you probably view data as an important aspect of supplier relationships. The more data suppliers have available on your parts puts you in a better position so you can educate your customers.

Impact on Product and Sales

Picture this: you use Excel to manage your data. One day, you accidentally send an outdated spreadsheet to a reseller. You don’t realize it until it’s too late. A few weeks go by, and you begin to get complaints from customers. Your parts don’t fit the vehicles they should, and now you’re in a pickle.

Next, your customers may want a replacement, maybe even a refund. You’re saddled with the cost of return shipping, shipping a replacement part, and extra time moving inventory around a warehouse. On top of that, there’s the potential for a bad review and a customer who’s burned their bridge and isn’t coming back.

That’s why ACES and PIES data matters. It keeps your sales accurate, efficient, and up to standard. It also protects your bottom line.

ACES and PIES for Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers

If you’re an aftermarket supplier, your data management systems may need to level up. And that’s ok! It’s not a pie in the sky if there’s a way to do it.

The Importance of ACES and PIES

It’s simple. As seen in the example above, ACES and PIES data increases efficiency and saves you time and money. It reduces the supply chain costs, increases how quickly a product can get to market, and removes any duplicate information or errors that could result in the wrong products going to the wrong place.

This also means fewer product returns, and happier buyers overall. These small efficiencies add up to big savings and trust between buyers and suppliers.

Creating ACES and PIES

To create your own ACES and PIES data requires a knowledge of ACES and PIES. It’s even better if you can use a tool that has ACES and PIES standards baked in so you’re not going it alone. PDM’s smart automation and simple interface help you create and validate your product data more efficiently. Here are a few ways PDM can help you create great data:

  • Copy existing products or create new products from scratch
  • Import any existing data with ease
  • Deliver the perfect data to all your selling channels

Sharing Data

Tools like PDM allow you to share your most up-to-date data with all of your resellers, instantly. They just need to log into PDM, request your data, and immediately it will be available to them. Product data can also be exported in the standard ACES and PIES XML format or transformed to a CSV/Excel file as needed.

Automotive Product Data Distribution
PDM is the hub for all of your product data, connecting with your resellers, sales channels, and even internal operation tools.

Common Problems to Watch Out For

You need to update your data management catalog monthly to ensure that it includes the latest information. If not, you may end up searching outdated fitment information, and then use it to steer a customer towards purchasing a part that isn’t actually compatible with their vehicle.

The easy solution is to stay up to date through monthly validations in order to keep your system relevant. If you don’t, your outdated data could lead to confusion or mistrust with your brand, and potentially cost you long term customers.

Where Do You Go for Help to Organize Your Product Data?

Don’t worry. It’s not about what you know, but who you know.

And the only friend you need is PDM Automotive. PDM has created our own software to help with ACES & PIES. It was designed for automotive suppliers and resellers–to be useful, effective, and simple.

We can help you enjoy the benefits of ACES and PIES data without putting in all that work. Heck, we’ll even help you set it up!

Drop us a line any day of the week, and we’ll be glad to get you started.