Your Guide to the ACES & PIES Data Standards

What are ACES & PIES data standards and how do they transform the automotive aftermarket industry? This article cuts through the jargon to provide you with a straightforward understanding of the Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) and the Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES). Learn how these protocols standardize vehicle fitment and product information, improving operations for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike.

Key Takeaways

  • ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) and PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) are essential data standards in the automotive aftermarket industry, ensuring compatibility and accurate information exchange for vehicle parts and products.
  • Implementing ACES and PIES standards requires consistent maintenance and updates, including standardized data conversion, validation tools for compliance, and regular updates from the Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) to manage parts fitment.
  • Effectively using ACES and PIES standards can enhance ecommerce efficiency, streamline supply chain operations, and foster better relationships among business partners, ultimately leading to increased sales and improved customer satisfaction.

Demystifying ACES and PIES: The Building Blocks of Automotive Data

Imagine a realm where thousands of automotive parts are made to fit millions of vehicles. How do you ensure that each part fits the right vehicle? Enter the world of ACES and PIES data standards – the building blocks of automotive data. They manage and communicate vehicle fitment and product information, contributing to the industry’s growth and evolution. The data standards provided by ACES and PIES ensure compatibility of aftermarket parts and accessories with various vehicles while reducing errors in product information exchange.

The automotive aftermarket industry is projected to be valued at $855 billion by 2028 in the United States, and the adoption and implementation of ACES and PIES data standards have been a significant factor contributing to this growth. The standards are updated regularly, reflecting the evolving needs of the automotive aftermarket, thanks to the involvement of industry stakeholders.

Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES)

The Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) is primarily concerned with the direction and transmission of product fitment data within the automotive aftermarket industry. It’s the linchpin that ensures the compatibility of parts with specific vehicle makes, models, and years. ACES utilizes XML for data communication, enabling machine-readable and efficient data exchange between trading partners, supporting a variety of vehicle types and equipment.

ACES relies on multiple relational databases to provide a codified structure for:

  • Vehicle and equipment attributes
  • Product classifications
  • Qualifier statements
  • Brands

This standardized fitment data is crucial for products that demand precise fitment identification through a Year, Make, Model lookup system present in product catalogs or online searches.

Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES)

Switching our focus to PIES, the Product Information Exchange Standard, it complements ACES by overseeing and transmitting intricate product information. This data standard encompasses a wide range of product data including:

  • features
  • benefits
  • marketing descriptions
  • pricing
  • warranty information
  • product attributes/specifications
  • hazardous materials details
  • kit contents
  • interchanges
  • digital assets.

PIES is essential for the precise management and communication of product information, contributing to a consistent and complete picture of product dimensions, popularity, country of origin, and other critical details. It evolves under the guidance of the Technology Standards Committee to meet the industry’s changing requirements, and is widely used across various automotive sectors.

Implementing ACES and PIES: A Roadmap for Success

The advantages of the ACES and PIES data standards are evident, but what are the steps for their successful implementation? Well, it’s a recognized best practice to hire an external specialist or company dedicated to ACES/PIES data formatting and standardization. Establishing an internal process that facilitates the sharing of new product data with the individual responsible for ACES/PIES data management is also recommended.

The ACES and PIES data standards are intricate, designed to support a wide range of aftermarket product types, each requiring detailed fitment information and categorization. By adopting these data standards, businesses can significantly enhance the speed with which new products are introduced to the market, contributing to their competitiveness.

Data Conversion and Compliance

Conversion of existing data to the aces and pies format necessitates the standardization of product fitment details (ACES) and catalog details (PIES) to adhere to industry norms. Businesses often need to clean, map, and organize data from various sources themselves or utilize third-party services that specialize in data management.

Maintaining compliance with ACES and PIES standards involves utilizing validation tools that check data accuracy against established benchmarks to identify and rectify any deviations. Since ACES and PIES standards are dynamic and periodically updated to reflect changing industry needs, it is crucial for companies to remain informed about the latest standards to ensure ongoing compliance.

Streamlining Supply Chain Costs

Adopting ACES and PIES data standards guarantees:

  • Data precision
  • Supply chain productivity
  • Cost-cutting
  • Decreased duplicated efforts
  • Streamlined operations
  • Reduced returns and exchanges
  • Accurate orders from customers

By enabling machine-readable XML communication, the implementation of ACES and PIES data in eCommerce operations can significantly improve efficiency and accuracy.

Retailers benefit from streamlined operations by integrating ACES and PIES standards, simplifying the addition of new products and brands to online platforms. These data standards assist in:

  • Seamless system integrations between manufacturers and retailers
  • Effective supply chain management
  • Support for small businesses in managing high volumes of product listings on ecommerce stores.

Navigating the Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb)

Understanding and employing ACES and PIES necessitates a crucial journey through the Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb). The VCdb is central to mapping parts to applications, facilitating accurate searches by year, make, and model.

The aftermarket industry must manage extensive data involving thousands of vehicles and millions of parts, which is streamlined using the VCdb.

Understanding Vehicle Attributes

Precise vehicle attributes in the ACES database play a vital role in establishing application data, incorporating details like the vehicle’s year, make, and model, part type, and other information required for ascertaining part fitment. Vehicle fitment data, as part of vehicle attributes, can encompass a wide array of specifics about the vehicle including its engine, transmission, and other systems that affect whether a part will fit a particular model.

Updating and Maintaining Your Database

Maintaining an up-to-date and precise database is a vital element of upholding ACES and PIES standards. The Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) is updated monthly, ensuring it contains the most recent vehicle data for coverage in the United States. Vehicle research within the VCdb follows a four-stage approach, allowing continuous data addition and efficient mapping of products to vehicle applications.

Regular updates and industry reviews ensure the PIES data standard aligns with current requirements, while frequent data audits and periodic reviews maintain the correctness and completeness of product lines within the evolving standards. Staying informed about updates to ACES and PIES standards via sources like the Auto Care Association is crucial for ongoing staff training and database maintenance.

Enhancing Sales Channels with ACES and PIES Data

The uptake of ACES and PIES data standards offers several benefits, including:

  • Boosting product introduction speed
  • Increasing market speed
  • Enhancing sales
  • Improving operational efficiencies

Providing ACES and PIES compliant data is crucial for manufacturers to expand their market reach, as major retailers and data suppliers often require this information before listing products for sale.

The use of ACES and PIES data standards helps reduce costly returns and improves retailer profits by ensuring customers purchase the correct products the first time. Effective management of vast amounts of data through ACES and PIES implementation leads to increased efficiency in business operations and better experiences for customers.

Ecommerce Website Integration

Incorporating ACES and PIES data into ecommerce platforms enriches the shopping experience for customers. By using ACES data for vehicle fitment and PIES for product details, businesses provide accurate listings and build consumer trust. High-quality, uniformly formatted data is essential for integrating ACES and PIES into business systems to prevent customer confusion with outdated or incorrect fitment information.

Real-time data exchanges through the use of APIs are integral for the continuous update and integration of ACES and PIES data in e-commerce platforms. Interoperability between e-commerce systems and adherence to industry standards are crucial for managing the complexity of data management across different technological interfaces. Proper training for personnel is necessary to effectively manage and use data from third-party catalogs or business-owned databases, ensuring a successful application of ACES and PIES standards.

Collaborating with Business Partners

Disseminating ACES and PIES data among business partners can foster robust relationships via improved communication channels and lucid expectations. The consistency and accuracy of shared product data via ACES and PIES significantly contribute to improved trust between business partners, creating a clear data picture for all parties involved.

Eliminating redundant communication and distribution activities by sharing ACES and PIES data helps save valuable time and resources. Retailers usually obtain ACES and PIES data from manufacturers or data providers, while also maintaining the capacity to author their own data for corrections or when developing proprietary products.

Overcoming Common ACES and PIES Challenges

Despite the myriad benefits of ACES and PIES data, companies might encounter challenges such as:

  • Unfamiliarity with these standards
  • The necessity to format product data correctly
  • Non-compliance issues
  • Delays in file publication

Assistance with ACES and PIES files is crucial in ensuring compliance with automotive data standards, especially when dealing with security access denied issues.

Tackling issues with ACES and PIES data might be costly but is indispensable for maintaining retailer alliances and enhancing sales channels.

Data Quality and Accuracy

Deployment of validation tools to cross-verify data against ACES and PIES standards aids in detecting and rectifying potential errors, and a proficient Product Information Management (PIM) system can curtail user entry mistakes and guarantee transparency. One of the principal challenges in managing ACES and PIES data is ensuring accuracy across extensive catalogs with numerous SKUs, often compounded by the absence of a master database for parts or fitment data.

Inaccurate ACES and PIES data can lead to incorrect part fitments, resulting in product returns and customer dissatisfaction, which affects sales and customer loyalty. Conducting regular audits and periodic reviews is necessary to maintain the accuracy and completeness of ACES and PIES data, while comprehensive databases like TecDoc catalogue aid in managing product information.


In the dynamic world of the automotive aftermarket industry, ACES and PIES data standards stand as the pillars that uphold the structure of data management, driving growth, and evolution. By understanding these standards, implementing them correctly, and maintaining data quality and accuracy, businesses can streamline their operations, enhance sales channels, and build stronger relationships with partners. As we move forward, these standards will continue to evolve, reflecting the changing needs of the industry, and those who adapt will steer the course of this vast automotive sea.

If you’re interested in discussing how our ACES & PIES mapping services can help you, contact us here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to Start?

Let's Grow Your
Business Together.