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Epicor Software Corporation (recently combined with Activant Solutions Inc.), a global leader in business software solutions for manufacturing, distribution, retail and services organizations, has announced a multi-million-dollar investment in the development of a next generation electronic catalog technology designed to revolutionize product research and selling activities for the automotive aftermarket.

The new eCatalog technology will combine industry-leading replacement parts and service data from Epicor with extensive new functionality and value-added features, including near real-time availability of updated product data, new-product announcements, technical service bulletins, recall notices, bidirectional messaging for suppliers and retailers, and other important information. The technology also will help greatly accelerate the lookup process through “free-form” search capability similar to that now offered by Internet search engines.

“Today’s accepted aftermarket eCatalog search methodology is very regimented and time-intensive,” said Paul Magin, senior director, content and connectivity for Epicor. “We will be offering functionality that is truly new to this industry. Businesses using Epicor eCatalogs will be able to utilize this technology to help speed operations at the counter, reduce returns and provide more valuable product and market intelligence.

“Free-form search will enable the user to quickly reach beyond his or her product lines to see what’s available through a much wider selection of sources. This will help eliminate lost sales and add significant value for the customer.”

Magin said the new eCatalog technology, already in development, will also help drive improvements in inventory efficiency and margin performance through the availability of detailed analytics and the ability to more easily and effectively configure master catalog files to promote sales of preferred brands and product lines.

“Point-of-sale tools are becoming increasingly powerful differentiators in the aftermarket, and no tool is more important at the parts counter or in an online store than the electronic catalog,” he said. “We and many of our largest customers share a vision of Epicor eCatalog solutions becoming much more than a lookup tool and we’re well on our way to achieving this new level of value.”

The Epicor (formerly Activant) suite of eCatalog products is already the aftermarket’s most popular parts research tool, playing a central role in daily parts transactions throughout North America. Epicor eCatalogs are in place at more than 30,000 parts and service locations and in an ever- growing number of Web-based stores.

The engine driving this popularity is the solution’s extensive set of replacement parts data, now comprising more than 7.5 million parts covering over 385 million registered cars and trucks. Epicor is building on this coverage leadership with its new Epicor LaserCat 3 database of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and other “powersports” applications; Epicor ItemExpert™ eCatalog module featuring thousands of non-application and universal parts; and a growing set of “othermotive” data covering agricultural, marine, lawn-and-garden and other applications. The company also offers the industry leading Epicor Interchange, which includes more than 22 million cross-references to help users close more sales.

Epicor integrates comprehensive labor, vehicle service interval and other important databases into its eCatalog suite to enable users — including thousands of automotive service providers — to increase sales, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

For additional information regarding the Epicor eCatalog products for the aftermarket, please visit the company’s AAPEX booth (#2234) in Las Vegas, contact your Epicor representative, call (800) 380-9015, or email [email protected]