The September 19 issue of AftermarketNews reported, “A hot debate has ensued as to whether the industry ever can, or should, get rid of paper cats. The results of NCMA’s recent survey of counter professionals shows usage of paper versus electronic remains nearly tied, with paper catalogs at 86 percent and e-cats at 84 percent.” That research came from the National Catalog Managers Association (NCMA), which is a professional society within the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). The data showed that 86 percent of parts counter professionals use manufacturers’ paper catalogs, 84 percent use full-line electronic catalogs, 70 percent use manufacturers’ web catalogs and 32 percent use manufacturers’ CDs.
The following week, September 26, the e-zine did a follow-up report, which asked parts professionals where they turn initially to look up parts information. Not surprisingly, it turns out that parts pros go to an electronic parts catalog a whopping 90% of the time; they resort to flipping through the pages of a paper OEM catalog only if they can’t find what they need in the electronic parts catalog. This makes sense, since the world has grown accustomed to searching for information online.
We at Enigma see a growing demand for our electronic parts catalog software, not only because it makes life easier for parts managers, but because it makes it easier for manufacturers to create, distribute and update parts and service information to their dealer networks and distributors.
Scott Luckett, vice president, technology standards and solutions for the AAIA, had this to say: “When parts professionals first turn to the electronic source 90 percent of the time, shouldn’t parts manufacturers allocate 90 percent of their cataloging resources into this medium? If electronic catalog content got 90 percent of the attention and resources, it wouldn’t be long before paper catalogs were truly obsolete.”
Thanks Scott, for that ringing endorsement of electronic part catalogs! We agree that when it comes to part catalogs, electronic is the way to go if possible. But we also realize that not every part manager, service technician or dealer has reliable internet access, so the Enigma software makes it possible to distribute parts catalogs via DVD or paper. Furthermore, when technical information needs to be printed out the electronic catalog will automatically provide it in a consistent and usable format. Maybe “paper cats“ (gee, I like that phrase!) will go on the endangered species list in the next few years. In this case it won’t be a bad thing, but for the time being it is important to offer our customers multiple options and maximum flexibility.