Business Tools

Help Today's Information-Hungry Customers Find What They Want

SEMA News—November 2012

By Jon Wyly

Sales Growth and the “Invisibility Factor”

Why Your Product Data Matters

If you are a supplier in the $30 billion automotive specialty-equipment market, it is important to have a complete understanding of why standardized, well-distributed product data is critical to business growth. The bottom line is to sell more parts, right? Well, in this age of instant information and aggressive competition, it’s going to take more than “the way we’ve always done it” to succeed. Consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to having information at their fingertips, and the competition for their money is tougher than ever before with the myriad choices available.

According to a recent SEMA consumer study (May 2012), 53.3% of consumers today use Internet searches to research product information. This outpaces the second most popular source of information, friends and relatives (33.7%), by 20 percentage points. Following at 30.4% is manufacturers’ websites and catalogs.

The ready availability of information and the convenience of the Internet are clearly huge drivers in consumer behavior these days. Think about your own personal research habits: Where do you go first for information on something you are looking to purchase, either immediately or in the future? More and more, the answer to that question is the Internet.

Now this discussion isn’t about where consumers go to buy, but rather where they go to learn about what they may end up buying. As a supplier of goods for sale, you want to be visible throughout the research process so that consumers begin to develop an awareness and comfort level with your offerings.


For more information about how the SEMA Data Cooperative can help you create, manage, store and distribute your product data in the most efficient and cost-effective way ever, call 888-958-6698 or send an e-mail to

Too often, we still believe the old-school “everyone knows my brand” position. Well, they don’t. And unless you want to confine your sales to a limited group of loyal brand followers—which there are fewer of every day—then you need to ensure that your products are represented broadly, accurately and consistently where people are looking for information! Invisibility may be a cool super-hero power to have, but it’s not where you want to be on an Internet search.

So how do you become visible? And what does this have to do with standardized product data?

It’s a lot about subtle details that produce the results we are looking for. As most of us know, the average Internet Google search is made up of selected keywords representing what the user is looking for. Some searchers type in very generic terms, such as “side tubes,” or maybe add a brand qualifier, such as “Westin side tubes.” However, as Internet users become more demanding, they are including more specific criteria in their searches as well, creating what are called “long tail” search terms. An example might be “chrome side tubes for 2008 Chevy Silverado Crew Cab.”

They are obviously looking for something very specific, and they want to get straight to it. If your product data doesn’t include fitment information, finish, bed-length qualifiers and more, you are invisible to the search we just described.

Being invisible on Google searches is bad enough, but being invisible on product searches conducted on e-commerce websites will really cost you sales. Most sites today are using pretty sophisticated year/make/model (YMM) lookups and offer the ability to filter search results based on product features or “qualifiers.” Even on products that are universal and don’t require YMM information, it is critical to have enough detailed product data for consumers to be able to drill down to what they are looking for and to see a complete, confidence-inspiring product detail page that has enough good information for them to make a buying decision.

By getting your product data together in the industry Product Information Exchange Standards (PIES) and Aftermarket Catalog Enhanced Standard (ACES) and stored in the SEMA repository, you not only take control of this very important asset but also guarantee consistent availability of the data required to ensure your visibility to information-hungry customers.