The automotive aftermarket industry is going to be worth $855 billion by 2028—and that’s just in the United States.

If you work in the automotive industry selling aftermarket parts in an eCommerce store, you already know it’s a profitable business, but it comes with a unique challenge: the sheer volume of existing data is not just overwhelming but can also be unreliable.

This is where ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) and PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) come in. These industry data standards help you manage your inventory more effectively, ensuring that the data you use and provide to your customers is accurate and consistent.

In this blog, we break down what ACES and PIES are, how they work, and the benefits they offer. Plus, we explore how using them with Spark Shipping can give you a competitive edge in the rapidly growing aftermarket industry.

What Are ACES and PIES?

ACES and PIES data exist to address a fundamental challenge in the automotive aftermarket industry: the need for standardized communication and management of vast amounts of vehicle fitment and product data.

One of the most common problems in the industry before these data standards were used, was inconsistencies in how vehicle and part information was described.

For example, a Chevrolet could be referred to as "Chevy," and the term "rear wheel drive" might be abbreviated in various ways, such as "rear drive" or "RWD." This made it difficult for suppliers, business partners, and shoppers to match parts to vehicles, which resulted in incorrect orders, returns, and dissatisfied customers.

To combat these issues, the automotive industry introduced ACES for vehicle fitment data and PIES for automotive parts data.

These data standards were designed to:

  • Create a common language.
  • Improve data accuracy.
  • Streamline operations.
  • Improve sales.
  • Reduce supply chain costs.
  • Facilitate business growth.

Remember, ACES and PIES files are database standards—they are not databases themselves. They help different parties in the automotive aftermarket industry exchange data more effectively.

However, the Auto Care Association notes that manufacturers and suppliers are not required to use ACES and PIES data standards, which leads to some gaps in the system.

ACES and PIES Data Standards

Although ACES and PIES are not necessarily used across the entire auto parts industry, they’re helpful standards that many manufacturers and sellers choose to follow.

Like any standard, ACES and PIES are governed by an independent body, the Auto Care Association’s Technology Standards Committee (TSC). The ACA is a trade group for automotive brands, and its TSC committee manages all of its data standards.

The TSC handles monthly updates to ACES and PIES, along with the following:

  • Issues update to best practices.
  • Provides courses to educate professionals about ACES and PIES.
  • Informs professionals about changes to ACES and PIES.

ACES and PIES standards change over time, usually every month. Updates to these standards include new product data and vehicles that have hit the market.

The TSC also sources data from users, which it independently verifies with a team of industry experts. Although the review process lasts 90 days, these regular updates keep ACES and PIES relevant to the automotive aftermarket parts industry.

Because ACES and PIES standards change frequently, it’s a good idea to double-check that you’re using the most recent version so you don’t share outdated information with your shoppers.

How the ACES Standard Works

While the two standards are often lumped together, they’re used for different types of data.

Unlike PIES, which focuses on product information, ACES ensures that aftermarket parts can be accurately matched with vehicles based on application data, such as:

  • Year.
  • Make.
  • Model.
  • Bed.
  • Engine.
  • Drivetrain.

ACES connects part numbers with a specific vehicle, so you can see which parts are compatible with a vehicle. It also helps you manage your electronic catalogs, which helps eCommerce shoppers find a part that's compatible with their vehicle.

ACES is available in two databases:

The Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb): While this database doesn’t include data for universal parts, it does have fitment data going as far back as 1896 for vehicles in the U.S. You need a paid subscription to access VCdb.

The Parts Configuration Database (PCdb): While the VCdb maintains data on vehicles, the PCdb contains parts data. Car owners can consult the PCdb to see which aftermarket parts are compatible with their vehicles. PCdb is free to access, but it does link to outside data sources that might require a paid subscription.

The databases supporting ACES are updated monthly to expand vehicle coverage and ensure that the data remains current. Originally focused on the light and medium-duty industry, there's a growing demand for the database’s coverage to include the heavy-duty industry.

The role of ACES in data management



ACES facilitates the exchange and management of automotive application data. The standard uses XML format to detail the compatibility of parts with vehicles, using codes instead of names for brands, part types, and vehicle attributes.

This coding system standardizes data processing, making it more efficient, but it can be challenging for those unaccustomed to reading such files.

Typically, the ACES file includes:

Fitment data: Information crucial for determining whether and how a part fits a specific vehicle model. This includes a wide range of vehicle specifics.

XML files and codes: ACES files are generated using VCdb and PCdb databases, alongside the Qualifier Database (QDB) and brand tables. The use of codes keeps the file lightweight and processable, though it may require "flattening" for easier reading, which involves converting codes to strings in a more user-friendly format like Excel.

How the PIES Data Standards Work

While ACES focuses on compatibility, PIES is all about part numbers. Instead of identifying parts by compatibility or function, the PIES standard identifies them by product features.

You don’t have to pay a subscription fee to access PIES data, which includes over 20,000 product types and 25 categories.

PIES data standards include valuable information on aftermarket parts, including:

  • Popularity
  • Dimensions
  • Country of origin
  • Weight
  • Kits
  • Brand
  • UPC
  • Product number
  • Price
  • Materials
  • Marketing content, like descriptions or product photos
  • Interchanges
  • Warranty information

ACES vs. PIES Data: The Differences Between the Two



While ACES and PIES share the common goal of simplifying the online sale of components and parts through data standardization, there are some key differences between the two:

Focus areas: The primary distinction lies in their focus areas: PIES data concentrates on product information, detailing aspects like brand, price, dimensions, and origin. ACES focuses on product compatibility with vehicles.

Subscription access: Due to its detailed fitment data and the complexity of its databases, ACES data requires a paid subscription for access. PIES, on the other hand, is accessible for free, offering wide-reaching product information without the up-front cost.

Combining ACES and PIES data gives you a comprehensive approach to managing automotive parts data. For example, a reseller might use ACES to determine whether a particular part is compatible with a vehicle and then consult PIES for detailed product information.

Why You Need Both ACES and PIES Data Standards

It can be difficult to manage all the data that comes with aftermarket auto parts. There’s a point where the sheer volume of data becomes a hindrance instead of a help, which is why ACES and PIES standards are so important.

The Auto Care Association created these standards to make it easier not only to find the right information about compatibility and parts, but also to standardize how to format and share this data between parties.

ACES and PIES can also help you:

Create accurate eCommerce listings:  ACES and PIES give you ready-made categories and standards for your data, so it’s easy to create accurate eCommerce listings at scale. This means you not only decrease time to market and remove duplicate data, but you also ensure your listings are helpful to shoppers.

Reduce exchanges and returns: Exchanges and returns are an expensive headache for any eCommerce business. Fortunately, this data can help shoppers order the right parts from the start, significantly reducing exchanges and returns.

Improve the shopper experience: The data gives shoppers a complete picture of how a part will work with their vehicle. Better data gives shoppers confidence that the parts they’re ordering will do what they need to do and that the parts are compatible with their vehicle.

How Spark Shipping Helps with Aces and Pies

Although ACES and PIES are highly efficient, there’s just one problem: industry standards aren’t always adhered to.

Brands may add data to a database that meets ACES and PIES standards, but warehouse distributors don’t provide data in an ACES and PIES format, so the data becomes time-consuming to sift through. That’s where Spark Shipping comes in.

We take wholesale distributor data and ensure it meets ACES and PIES standards when you upload it to your eCommerce site. So, if a wholesale distributor only provides a reference number without any product-rich data, Spark Shipping will pull that information from the ACES and PIES datasets—so your listings will automatically be complete.

Without Spark Shipping, you would need to manually update your eCommerce website to add product details. If you have hundreds of listings, that’s hundreds of headaches you’ve got to deal with.

You probably don’t have much time for manual updates, so trust Spark Shipping to help you:

Save time: Keep all of your listings up-to-date, automatically. Spark Shipping feeds in pricing, images, descriptions, and more, so you spend less hands-on time managing your parts listings.

Improve accuracy: Does your eCommerce setup keep track of accurate stock and inventory levels? If not, you risk selling products that aren’t in stock. But with Spark Shipping, you can see which products you have in stock in real-time.

Automate tracking: Spark Shipping automatically sends tracking information from your systems to the shopper. It’s one less thing you have to do manually, giving shoppers a better experience while saving you more time.

Improve the shopping experience: Spark Shipping connects your product catalog with all customer-facing apps. It allows shoppers to search through a large database of products in seconds, making it fast and easy to navigate your eCommerce listings.

Automatically Streamline Parts Listings with ACES and PIES

It’s cumbersome to manage your YMM data and product details, especially across a growing eCommerce store. ACES and PIES simplify data to streamline your business and improve the shopping experience, but they don’t fix everything.

If you want to use ACES and PIES to their full potential, go with Spark Shipping. We improve the accuracy of your eCommerce listings, save you time, and automate tasks so you can focus on growing your business.

See for yourself how we simplify eCommerce for auto parts: get a Spark Shipping demo now!