Singing the Standards

Singing the Standards

Industry standards are the way to a healthier, more efficient aftermaket. So why aren’t more companies embracing them?

Sinatra. Dean Martin. Diana Washington. Even relative newcomers like Michael BubleÉ and Diana Krall — I love the standards.

Even when it comes to the aftermarket, I’m still into the standards. But these standards are of the bits and bytes variety rather than notes and pianos.
Industry standards are necessary and important, but so far, all we’ve got is a bunch of soloists. That’s great if you’re talking about singers, but it’s bad when you relate it to industry standards. For that, you want a community chorus.

I got thinking about industry standards after reading a news item that crossed my desk in October, one that ultimately ended up as the lead news story in the November issue. The article, which appeared on page 12, related the story about Amazon.com’s recent entrance into the auto parts business. An interesting side note is that the technology behind Amazon’s online parts store includes the aftermarket industry’s cataloging standards, as well as product imaging and image requirement standards.

Adoption of these kinds of standards by manufacturers, program groups and store chains promises to do things like speed up the time it takes for e-cats to be updated, a reduction in cataloging errors and providing better service to customers. We are only as good as the information we have. Standards allow that information to be whole, error-free and on-time.

To underscore this point, Counterman Publisher Jon Owens gave a really insightful presentation last month during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas. He discussed increased competition from OE dealerships and how acceptance of industry standards will only provide a better experience for customers. And that, he said, will ultimately prove beneficial for the aftermarket as a whole.

But despite Amazon’s Adoption of cataloging and other standards, one study characterized industry-wide acceptance of these standards as “anemic.” The bottom line is that a standard is only a true standard if everyone uses them. These standards are essential for the current and future health of the aftermarket, and if the industry doesn’t wholly adopt them, instead of singing the standards, we just might end up singing the blues.

On a related note, next month’s issue will include an exclusive interview with Amazon’s automotive vice president, Steve Frazier, who will talk about Amazon’s auto parts strategy. It should be interesting reading.On behalf of the entire Counterman, and aftermarketNews family, I’d like to wish everyone a safe, happy and prosperous holiday season. We appreciate your on-going readership and loyalty. See you next year!

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