How the aftermarket does, and does not, use data

Lucas Deal July 10, 2014

Today’s world is filled with data. Every result is tracked; every purchase is recorded.

The trucking industry is filled with data, too. But with so much information flying around, it can be tough to make sense of it all.

So tough that until very recently, the aftermarket avoided most of it.

Distributors rely heavily on data to maintain inventory levels.

Edward Kuo, director of sales, motor vehicles at Datalliance, says one reason aftermarket businesses are good about using sales data is because they know how to interpret it.

GRAPHIC: Top 10 inspection violations for the past 24 months 

Data is more than just simple statistics, and Kuo says there are several factors that go into acquiring data and making
it useful.

“When it comes to data, the value comes from how you view it in the end,” he says.

RELATED: Data driven: Making sense of customer data in the aftermarket

Kuo notes there are four steps to making data useful: collection, cleaning, analysis and presentation.

He says distributors are successful using sales data to set inventory levels because they know how to take the data through the steps.

“VMI can offer [distributors] equal or better turns, and improved service levels from suppliers,” he says.

And while VMI removes the legwork of data collection, Kuo says all VMI sales data is still available to distributors through their suppliers. The information doesn’t go away; it’s just collected and organized by a different source.

Patrick Seeburg, product manager, truck group at MOTOR Information Systems, says the aftermarket has also started to accept external data to enhance the data collected in service bays.

Where a repair facility only has data on its customers, third-party vendors can offer data on all prospective customers within their market, including vehicle population information, duty cycles and spec’ing information. External data offers information on the unknown, and Seeburg says that’s something proactive aftermarket businesses should want.

“There’s an opportunity there to get ahead of the curve,” he says.

Even with its growing acceptance of data, there’s still a ton of information the aftermarket is yet to grasp.

Click here to read about what kind of data isn’t being used