Search methods used in the latest automotive parts catalogs are essential to enabling a customer to quickly find the correct part and securing a sale.  Automotive parts have different requirements than traditional shopping sites in that they may require vehicle lookup by Year, Make, Model and Engine (YMME), or by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or license plate number.

Other types of parts may be better suited to lookup by characteristic or specification.  Still others may best be found by use of a free-flowing search (text search).  Many sites employ a combination of these.

The traditional YMME search has some variations depending on the type of part being searched.  Parts that are typically not engine specific such as tires and trim parts, may not use the engine field.  Others may substitute engine with some other vehicle attribute like body style.  Many variations exist in the order of search elements.

Some prefer to first choose the vehicle Year while others prefer Make to be the first input.  Some of our full line clients prefer to choose the type of part first and further dropdowns may differ depending on the type of part.  Some advanced catalogs may allow the user to decide the order of inputs and not all fields may be mandatory.  APA has built a search engine that accommodates these scenarios.

VIN lookups basically glean enough vehicle information from the VIN number to identify the vehicle and then retrieve the parts for that vehicle.  Think of it as doing a YMME search, but entering the VIN instead of the actual YMME. 

License plate lookup works much the same way with the extra step of linking the plate to the VIN and the VIN to the vehicle.  License plate lookup has gained in popularity in the past few years, but it does involve subscribing to a service that links the plate and VIN.  And plate numbers are less permanent than VIN’s.

Text Search or Predictive Search works much like a Google search.  The user just starts typing whatever he knows about the part.  It may include a part OE or Aftermarket number, a YMME combination or a general description.  Behind the scenes part data is indexed on a recurring basis so that any combination of numbers, words or phrases can be matched to identify the part being sought.

Some types of part that are used in multiple locations on a vehicle such as bushings, bearings and universal joints, may be well suited to lookup by characteristic.  When these types of parts are similar but have different attributes such as diameter, length, width, etc., this can work very well.

Once a search method has been employed, the results are generally displayed with some level of detail that should include images, OE numbers and identifying data to help tell one result from another.  Narrowing search results by feature or characteristic can then be employed to help refine several choices down to one.

APA’s search engine is capable of integrating with as PIM at the backend and this information can be used to power the website.  It can be configured to the specific needs of the catalog.  For example, users can decide if they would like to go for an exact match or an approximate match, the order in which Year, Make, Model, Engine, Options etc. need to be displayed in the catalog, search facet definitions etc.  The search engine can also store historical information relating to user search items (My Garage) and these can be used to quickly place repeat orders.  Since data integrity is key to the success of the search, the engine has multiple exception reporting features that would alert users of data discrepancies or anomalies in the incoming data.

The technology used is very cost effective and can scale well to larger number of parts and applications due to the efficient search index. The inbuilt security aspects of the engine ensures that only authorized users would be able to use the search and keep your data safe and secure. It is possible to enable auditing to keep track of authentication failures and refused connections.

Our Search Analytics Dashboard allows the site owner to understand

  1. The keywords that are searched for
  2. The parts# that they don't carry, which their customers look for
  3. Which is used most, Year Make Model search or Keyword's search?
  4. Geographical details of the customers, i.e. from where their customers visit most
  5. Which is used mostly by their customers - desktop or mobile

Our solution enables the feature of displaying the Buyer's guide on the Product Detail Page dynamically.

The search engine is available on some platform sites such as BigCommerce and custom variations are available directly from APA Engineering.  Contact [email protected]or by phone at 866-285-1292.

If you would like to know more about Year, Make, Model and Engine (YMME) search