SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 18, May 7, 2009

SEMA Manufacturers and WDs Complete Second Phase of Data Synchronization Project

SEMA’s Business Technology Committee (BTC) has completed Phase II of its Data Pool Pilot Program, which involves SEMA manufacturers and their warehouse distributor trading partners. The findings confirm that non-standardized and vital missing product data between suppliers and distributors results in lost sales opportunities, ordering delays, excess inventory and expensive order-processing errors.

In Phase II of the three-part program, SEMA obtained data requirements from key industry warehouse distributors, mail–order companies and retail data receivers. These companies identified their most important trading partners, who were then invited to participate in an expanded data cleansing, standardization and synchronization project. As a result, product data from all 19 participating suppliers was cleansed and synchronized with their receivers. In the end, SEMA was able to sync up five distributors with 19 of their validated product lines, for a total of 46 alignments. White papers summarizing Phase I and Phase II of the SEMA Data Pool Pilot Program have been published at www.sema.org/btc.

“These Phase II findings make it clear to these SEMA industry participants that even small gains in efficiency can translate into substantial savings and increased sales,” said Alan Dicker, SEMA’s director of business technology. “We are confident there will be substantially greater benefits for the entire marketplace once most supply–chain participants begin trading standardized product information.”

The SEMA Data Pool Pilot Program was created in August 2006 to jumpstart the process of sharing data between a group of SEMA manufacturers and their warehouse distributor trading partners by helping them gather their data to make it standards-compliant. The program’s overall goal is to create a standardized industry data pool by facilitating the validation and synchronization of the data files used by small, medium and large manufacturers and distributors. Studies in other specialty-equipment segments had shown that incomplete, non-standardized and unsynchronized data resulted in excess costs of 1.7% of sales.

Among other Phase II key findings:

  • Data requirements were acquired and compared from five of the top warehouse distributors and retailers in the industry and a set of required product data fields was developed

  • The product information from 19 of the largest manufacturers in the industry was validated to the PIES standard

  • 46 instances of complete product information synchronization between suppliers and distributors were accomplished

  • A number of necessary changes to the standards have been identified and suggested to the standards body


Benefits from the Phase II process

For Manufacturers:

  • Manufacturers are now able to convey information for thousands of products previously unknown to their warehouse distributor trading partners, resulting in a greater opportunity for increased sales

  • Invoice reconciliation time will be reduced as a result of synchronization

  • Accurate recommended jobber pricing increases customer satisfaction

  • The single Product Information Exchange Standards (PIES) eliminates the need for multiple output formats. In many cases these manufacturers have created a product data file that can be shipped at a moment's notice to other trading partners.

  • New products can be introduced to the market in a fraction of the time used in past practice.


For Distributors and Retailers:

  • Discovered thousands of parts in their systems that don't actually exist, reducing confusion internally and increasing customer satisfaction

  • Invoice reconciliation time will be reduced as a result of synchronization

  • Discovered thousands of parts that they hadn't previously known existed, resulting in an opportunity for increased sales.

To learn more about the SEMA Business Technology Committee and to find a White Paper with all the details about the study, visit www.sema.org/btc.

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