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DATA SECURITY: INDUSTRY CASE STUDY

Awareness is the Best Remedy

How one recycled auto parts marketplace responds to the need for data protections.
By Jeff Schroder

A recycler’s inventory data is a valuable asset. Auto recyclers need to be able to share this data with others in order to effectively market their parts in various marketplaces. But how can you share your inventory data with others while still protecting it? It is important to understand where and how your inventory data is being used, and to take appropriate action to ensure that it is not being used in ways that is harmful to your business.

Data Monitoring
At Car-Part.com, we are keenly aware of auto recyclers’ concerns regarding the handling of their inventory data and have many safeguards in place to protect your data. Car-Part.com uses auto recyclers’ inventory data to power many of the products and services that we provide to the marketplace. Auto recyclers authorize this use when they sign up for our services. It has long been our policy not to provide an auto recycler’s individually identifiable inventory data to any third party without the recycler’s consent. From the beginning of Car-Part.com in the 1990’s, this protection has been included in the terms and conditions for our basic web services (meaning that it is a commitment that we make to all auto recyclers that upload their inventory data to Car-Part.com).

Car-Part.com has also actively taken steps to increase your ability to monitor where your inventory data is being used and the consents that you have provided to Car-Part.com to send your inventory data to third parties. Our online portal provides a report to all auto recyclers that upload their inventory data to Car-Part.com summarizing: (i) what information is collected from your system (we do not collect vehicle costs, customer, or sales information); (ii) the Car-Part Basic Services (services which uploaded auto recycler inventory data is authorized to be used in when an auto recycler subscribes to Car-Part.com basic web services); (iii) the Authorized Car-Part Optional Services (services where uploaded auto recycler inventory is authorized to be used when an auto recycler subscribes to such services); (iv) the Authorized Consolidated Search Pages/Custom Trading Partner Groups (search pages for associations and groups that the auto recycler is a member of and has authorized to display its parts listings on); and (v) the Authorized Third-Party Data Feeds (third-party data feeds that the auto recycler has specifically authorized its inventory data to be included in).

We believe that our approach provides auto recyclers a comprehensive view of how their inventory data is being used by Car-Part.com and who their inventory data is being forwarded to.

Examples of Data Exposure
When weighing control of your data versus marketplace exposure, there are some practical limitations and considerations. For example, when the Car-Part.com marketplaces quote recyclers’ parts with their line listings, users on the Internet see portions of your inventory data (for those quoted parts) and can easily copy and paste that quoted part information.

Copying and pasting a seller’s quoted information is common Internet functionality that users expect. Car-Part has had requests from recyclers to restrict buyers from copying this line listing/quoted part information from our websites. We don’t have the ability to stop users from doing this, furthermore, making it harder for users to do so would only drive them away from our marketplace into all the other websites and marketplaces that allow copying and pasting.

Similarly, when Car-Part Pro integrates with collision repair workflow systems, estimating systems, and shop management systems, users select the part they want and write that line listing information into an estimate as a quoted part, or into a shop management system as an order on a repair order or purchase order. Effectively copying and pasting that line listing for the user with one click helps recyclers sell more parts by making it easier for your buyers. When inventory information is shown via line listings with services like Car-Part.com and Integrated Car Part Pro, your inventory data is getting the good exposure that is relevant to that part search while minimizing the risks associated with over exposing your data (the user has to look up the information one part at a time), whereas in a data feed, users are exposed to your entire inventory including the parts that aren’t relevant to their search.

Keeping the Inventory Your Inventory
This security of your inventory data is one of the key reasons Car-Part migrated away from data feeds (whenever practical) years ago and moved to the integrated service model. Another advantage of services over data feeds is that services like Integrated Car Part Pro make it easier for buyers from many different systems to see your part images. This is because Car-Part does the work to display the images with your line listings on the Internet and the buyers from those systems get the benefit of seeing the images without the need for additional development work on their part (as would be the case with a data feed).

Different marketplaces treat data in a variety of ways. For example, eBay allows parties to see the sale price of items. Some third-party sellers on Amazon (i.e. sellers who are selling directly on Amazon themselves and not as a supplier to Amazon) complain that Amazon competes with them by using their marketplace sales data to sell their top selling items directly thereby keeping the majority of the opportunity and reducing the opportunity of direct sellers.

Recalls and VINs
Recall information is another hot industry topic. The OEMs have detailed part and VIN information that, if provided to auto recyclers in a standardized electronic format, would greatly help recyclers automatically locate recalled parts from their inventories and simplify the process of removing recalled parts from their inventories (not inadvertently selling them). The OEMs and/or those collecting recalled parts on behalf of the OEMs typically have information whether the recalled VIN has a recalled part that was remedied. If this were provided to auto recyclers in a timely, standardized electronic format, it would increase the overall safety of the automotive replacement parts industry (of which we are a part) and it would allow recyclers to properly sell remedied parts that were in recalled vehicles/VINs. The ability to resell remedied parts would help shorten the sometimes-long cycle required to remedy recalled parts, and contribute to overall industry safety.

Recyclers have data regarding which recalled VINs were crushed and which were sold before the recalled VINs were crushed (often, parts were sold before a recall and then a recall occurs after the recalled part has been sold). This data could help OEMs to recover recalled parts and meet NHTSA required remedy rates.

It is Car-Part’s opinion that the best arrangement for the overall replacement parts industry (both recyclers and OEMs) would be for both sides to share the information in a way that was useful to the other party with the correct data protections in place. If you are providing recall information, it is good to know how your data is being used, what protections are in place, and how useful is the information you are getting back. We have worked with OEMs and government agencies to help recyclers sell recalled or potentially recalled airbags to them, but we only provide information from recyclers that have provided us with consent to share their information with those parties.

Jeff Schroder is CEO of Car-Part.com. He has been an active member of CIECA for 16 years, as a board member, and on the BMS Parts Procurement, and Recycled Parts, and Salvage Committees.