If you were to ask most aftermarket sales or marketing executives what their prime issue is with respect to getting product information to their customers, undoubtedly they would say that it’s accurate cataloging that is demanding most time and resources.

But the type of cataloging they are talking about – the correlation of parts to vehicle applications, also known as “fitment data” – is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Catalog and Publishing Management.

The term “Catalog Management” is often misused because it is too narrowly defined. Actually it is the umbrella term for all electronic processes related to the creation and publishing of catalogs and e-procurement processes.

In the aftermarket, a complete set of catalog information includes fitment data, product specifications and Material Safety Data Sheets, as well as images and pricing. A comprehensive PIM system enables companies to manage each of the processes involved in both creating and managing this breadth of product information and materials. Only a few PIM systems, such as the Pricedex AutoPIM Pro system, incorporate all these capabilities and the means to publish catalogs.

“Publishing Management” refers to all the processes that enable companies to communicate the correct information to their trading partners from their catalogs.

For example, Customer “A” is entitled to receive a catalog with Product Categories 1, 2 and 3, with US List Pricing; while Customer “B” receives Product Categories 1 through 5, with US List and Wholesale Pricing, and English and Spanish language text. Publishing Management actually facilitates Partner Relationship Management by managing customer profiles and allowing the customization of content and distribution to enhance customer satisfaction.

Further, Publishing Management maintains a record of ‘how’ the information is published to a customer. In the North American aftermarket, it is via a combination of ACES files (for fitment data) and PIES files (for product information, images and pricing). In other markets, or with other customers, the electronic files created may be to a customer-specific format, or to another industry standard. Publishing management takes into account the ‘preferences’ for a particular customer or customer type, and automates the output of the required content and the publishing format.

Cross-media publishing leverages technology to enable publishing in various media – from hard copy (paper), to a variety of electronic formats. There is usually an enormous return on investment for companies adopting cross-media publishing because it allows them to combine the two separate, parallel processes needed for paper publishing and publishing web content to be rolled into a single, simultaneous process. In addition to its extensive publishing and cataloging features, the Pricedex AutoPIM Pro system incorporates strong cross-media publishing capabilities.

Incorporating Catalog and Publishing Management processes into a PIM strategy can easily pay for the total cost of ownership of a PIM system. A number of companies have reported reductions in publishing costs in excess of 90% with a fully implemented system, and further, have benefited significantly from faster ‘time-to-market’ with complete product information getting into the hands of their selling chain partners and end customers.

Next Issue: “Data Synchronization – The Fourth Pillar”