In this insightful Q&A session, Tim Hardin, Senior Vice President of Global Auto, Data and Extend Services at Epicor, delves into the innovative ways Epicor is integrating artificial intelligence with its data analytics.
How does Epicor integrate artificial intelligence with its data analytics to enhance the efficiency and profitability of parts distribution in the automotive aftermarket sector?
Our strategy for the integration of data analytics and AI into automotive-specific solutions is based on a vision we call “cognitive ERP.” Through cognitive ERP we deliver valuable contextual intelligence across a comprehensive ecosystem of automotive solutions, cloud technologies, and people-centric AI capabilities.
For parts manufacturers and distributors, this contextual intelligence can guide production, deployment, stocking, pricing and promotional strategies at the part number level by local market. For repair businesses, contextual intelligence can help shop owners, service writers and technicians identify undiagnosed service needs on customer vehicles and better align their service offerings to emerging trends within today’s increasingly fragmented car parc.
These capabilities can be seen in two of our latest automotive data analytics solutions – Epicor Predictive Inventory Assistant (PIA) and Predictive Maintenance Assistant (PMA). Epicor PIA is the aftermarket’s first intelligent inventory management solution that provides stocking recommendations based on aggregated sales and financial information from “stores like you.” Epicor PMA enables service providers to predict likely future repair needs for virtually any popular passenger vehicle, resulting in stronger customer relationships and increased revenue.
How does artificial intelligence play a role in optimizing eCommerce operations, especially in sourcing and selling aftermarket parts electronically?
The eCommerce experience must be seamless for any customer, whether a consumer searching for DIY products or a service writer sourcing parts for a complex repair. AI will play a significant role in achieving this objective by guiding users through the lookup process based on known service issues on the vehicles, past buying preferences by brand and price point, and more.
The traditional classifications of B2B and B2C are no longer relevant – it’s all business-to-people. Customers expect to have the same online experience sourcing parts that they enjoy through Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and other major eCommerce players. We have embraced this opportunity with an entirely new parts sourcing platform called Epicor Commerce for Automotive (ECA), a powerful, flexible, user-friendly new eCommerce solution that helps distributors and other users increase sales and boost customer satisfaction.
How does AI contribute to the success of B2B and B2C eCommerce platforms in the automotive aftermarket domain?
Again, it’s about delivering contextual intelligence that informs the user’s lookup, estimating, buying, and even their delivery, experience. As the vehicle population continues to diversify – and as a new generation of technicians, service writers, and parts counter people enter the industry – AI-enriched sourcing solutions will play a vital role in helping the industry deliver the product and service quality, knowledge, convenience, and value that have driven its growth over the past century. AI will not only help the user quickly find precisely the right parts and supplies for any job, but also guide suppliers in introducing new parts and offering the repair intelligence needed to do the job right the first time. In this context, an eCommerce solution can deliver insight and other value that normally had been provided by a distributor’s most experienced counter person.
Epicor provides solutions for big-picture inventory management, forecasting, and timely delivery in the automotive aftermarket. How is artificial intelligence employed to maximize revenue per customer vehicle and eliminate slow/underperforming inventory?
Imagine, as a distributor, having your ERP solution automatically inform you when one or more part numbers not in your inventory are seeing increased demand among stores similar to yours. Your product managers don’t have time to continuously monitor these competitive insights across every brand, product line, and store location. Yet, this is what Epicor PIA can do, enabling your team to uncover new revenue opportunities at much higher velocity. The same is true in the context of underperforming inventory – our data analytics solutions, combined with AI, can help distributors more quickly eliminate part numbers that are seeing reduced demand across a panel of similar stores.
In terms of maximizing revenue per customer vehicle, the key is gaining the customer’s loyalty and trust so they rely on you for all services. Epicor PMA enables the shop to provide a holistic view of the operating condition of virtually any vehicle. This helps eliminate an unpleasant surprise for the customer when a water pump, fuel injector or other part goes bad. PIA can help predict these failures, giving the shop professional and vehicle owner a much deeper understanding of potential future service needs.
This contextual intelligence empowers the aftermarket not only to deliver the right part to the right place at the right time; we can now also provide critical information at each step of the vehicle ownership experience. That’s an incredibly valuable capability.
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