Auto parts in the North American automotive aftermarket have historically relied on fitment data for looked up on the “green screens” of yesterday’s parts counter. These terminals were very limited in the amount of data that they could deliver to countermen. The Internet, however, has revolutionized the way replacement parts are sold. Counter people, installers, and DIYers alike now have access to data applications that deliver mountains of data and rich content about the parts they seek. The most successful suppliers gather concise descriptions, marketing information, and images and other digital assets in order to project the quality of their brand and parts in a competitive marketplace. The AAIA Product Information Exchange Standard, or PIES, is the vehicle for standardizing communication of this data.
Whereas the AAIA ACES standard can be thought of as ‘everything fitment-related’, the PIES standard is ‘everything else’. It consists of a superset of the data points collected by the largest warehouse distributors and retailers in North America, and is modified regularly in order to keep up with data demands. The items represented in PIES are driven not only by the need to deliver rich content to the end user, but also by the needs of the warehouse, shop, and automated category management systems in place today.
The PIES standard consists of two components. The first one is the Technical Specification. This document lays out the hundreds of data items, data types, and acceptable values that make up the standard. The second component is the Delivery Specification. The Delivery Specification is an XML Schema to which PIES data must conform, and was originally developed by Illumaware Chief Technology Officer Adrian Klingel for CARQUEST Auto Parts in 2003. It is updated periodically to reflect changes in the Technical Specification. To the best extent possible, the Delivery Specification enforces the rules of the Technical Specification. The difficulty in working with the PIES Specification lies in both measuring the quantity and quality of a supplier’s data, as well as managing the data outputs for a supplier’s channel partners. Retailers and warehouse distributors often have very different data and delivery requirements from one another, reflecting their differing needs.
Evokat, Illumaware’s online do-it-yourself data authoring, management, and distribution system provides subscribers with the ability to visually interact with their data at various levels in order to manage the quality and completeness of their PIES data items through Evokat’s Analyze My Catalog interface as well as extensive customer-based data exception reporting. Evokat subscribers can meet the data delivery needs of any channel partner through Evokat’s Report Library. Evokat contains every type of PIES delivery file accepted today, including all versions of the PIES XML schemas, the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) specification, and many more. Illumaware delivers any additional report specifications required by Evokat users at no additional cost to the subscriber.
For additional information about PIES visit the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association's website: http://www.aftermarket.org/technology/pies.aspx.