Business Tools

Retailer Toolbox: Instruments to Adapt and Evolve in Today's Retail Environment

SEMA News—July 2013


SEMA Search: A Bigger Hammer in the Retailer Toolbox

Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO Here’s the big news: The SEMA Data Co-op is currently building SEMA Search, an online product look-up tool powered by the SDC product information library.

Scheduled for roll-out in November of this year, SEMA Search will allow member retailers, including countermen and sales consultants at brick-and-mortar retail outlets, to find and present the digital product information and images of their manufacturer partners for every customer.

Not only will this provide the opportunity for resellers to view more sales options than ever, they will also enjoy this information at a speed to market rarely experienced before.

We bring this up because the SEMA Board has recently been discussing what it means for our industry that distribution and retail are evolving so rapidly. One thing is certain: your business needs to be adapting and evolving as well—and it’s all about adding value. So SEMA is accelerating its efforts to help its members—particularly brick-and-mortar retailers—understand how to add value and thrive as this evolution continues.

The SEMA Search tool is exciting, but just like any good tool, you need to see it, reach out and use it. And there are other tools you should know about. To make it easy, we’re going to put them all in one place on the SEMA website where our retail members can find them. Consider it a Toolbox for Retailers.

Once you visit the online toolbox, you’ll see that we have long worked to put our members in touch with retail experts who are focused on offering business value in today’s retail environment. For example, the SEMA Education Institute (SEI) has a range of webinars and educational sessions specifically aimed at helping retailers tune up their businesses in today’s competitive environment. You can get expert advice on how to use today’s communications and online media tools to bring in new prospects, how to use customer service as a difference-maker and ways to build killer promotional strategies. These webinars and educational sessions are available to SEMA members free—just sign in and download from the Education tab on the website.

We also have an archive of high-quality articles relevant to retailers that regularly appear in SEMA News. In the past year, this magazine has addressed best practices in trade and consumer advertising (February 2012) and retail store design (December 2012). These articles are also available for download to SEMA members on

Live seminars and expert roundtables at the SEMA Show are another opportunity for retailers to gain perspective and learn to adapt. Sessions at last year’s Show provided expert advice on how to deal with customers walking into your showroom with loaded weapons—their smartphones. Another seminar showed that training your retail employees to build trust and establish relationships will move merchandise. The 2012 SEMA Show hosted eight educational events addressing sales solutions for retailers in the contemporary retail environment. For the coming year, at the 2013 SEMA Show, attendees can expect a solid menu of compelling educational opportunities relevant to retailers.

But we think the SEMA Search tool will be a game changer, a huge help to retailers in an environment where customers more and more use the Internet to locate and learn about products. Keep in mind, the data will be available to SEMA-member retailers to power their website lookups, counterman displays and internal B2B systems. For free. That’s correct—as part of SEMA membership, retailers will have access to SEMA Search at no additional charge.

Taken all together, we offer these assets as a great toolbox to help our industry’s retail businesses succeed in a changing environment. We can’t predict where technology will take us or exactly when it will settle. But we do believe that knowledge and good tools will help those interested to grow and prosper.