Auto Service World
News   December 18, 2008   by Auto Service World

Inaugural E-Cat Forum Called a Success

Reports are that the inaugural “Electronic Catalogue Forum for Manufacturers,” held during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas, was a resounding success.

Sponsored by Activant, the event was designed to help manufacturers identify ways to accelerate delivery of their latest parts information to the thousands of distributor, jobber and service dealer businesses that rely on an Activant electronic catalogue or other data products or services. The forum included a detailed presentation covering Activant’s proprietary quality assessment and data publishing processes as well as a discussion of the opportunities for manufacturers to increase their presence in Activant electronic catalogue products.

“Fast, efficient processing and delivery of parts data is an important goal for everyone in the aftermarket,” said Tom Aliotti, senior vice president and general manager of the Activant automotive business. “But we also understand that the data that is delivered to the street must be accurate, complete and compatible with a broad range of business management systems being utilized by distributors, jobbers and service dealers.”

“In addition to detailed discussion of “time to market” issues for parts data, the event included a strong appeal to manufacturers to provide additional product information – including parts images, installation instructions, technical service bulletins, warranty details, interchange information, and pricing and UPC files – along with their application data. “Our ultimate goal is to pack as much value into our catalogue as possible so the end-user can be faster, more efficient and more accurate on the job. This benefits everyone in the aftermarket supply chain, including the manufacturer,” Aliotti said.

Compatibility of aftermarket product data with the industry’s disparate technology platforms was discussed in-depth during the forum. Many North American jobber locations rely on older “green screen” computer platforms that require Activant to perform time-intensive data conversion, according to Aliotti.

Additionally, Activant licensed application, interchange, labour and other data also must be formatted for use in a variety of service dealer shop management systems. “We know that manufacturers want their products to be available through all of these businesses,” Aliotti said, “which is why we have invested in the personnel and capital resources necessary to deliver our catalogue to the entire aftermarket.”

Duane Meadows, eCatalog project specialist for Denso, said the forum answered several of his questions regarding the processing and delivery of parts data. “Details of the challenges of providing data to the industry’s multiple formats was extremely helpful,” he said.

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