By Della Domingo
With more than 550 automotive parts brands and more than 4 million unique parts, the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) is evolving and dropping “Co-op” from its name to better reflect the growth in services and industry needs. Since launching nearly 10 years ago, SEMA Data has evolved and has expanded beyond being a central repository for data.
“We realized there were two things that happened: One was the manufacturers needed help to get standardized data to the co-op. Second, we needed to help the industry know what to do with it,” said Gigi Ho, vice president of SEMA Data. “We are now actively helping the industry progress and grow through data, and by dropping the ‘Co-op’ from the title, we wanted people to concentrate on the ‘Data’ aspects of what we do.”
SEMA Data began in 2012 as the first industry-owned and -operated data repository. Manufacturers would submit information about products in standard ACES and PIES formats, making it easy for resellers to find products quickly and efficiently. This would increase manufacturer sales, speed up the distribution process, and improve customer satisfaction.
With data standards just emerging, most businesses were still relying on paper catalogs and manufacturers struggled to adapt to the new formats. Once the data was structured properly and included in SEMA’s repository, resellers struggled to see the value.
“The industry has been evolving slowly with product information, going from print to spreadsheets to XMLs, and now push or pull APIs,” said Ho.
SEMA Data began offering plug-ins, based on its APIs (Application Programming Interface—a set of specifications used by a software program to query another software program), early last year for popular e-commerce platforms for companies to power their websites or to power the data feeds into their business systems. The APIs make it possible for businesses to get updated information more frequently and, in turn, move products through the distribution channel much faster.
As an industry made up primarily of small businesses, many companies are looking for ways to better utilize standardized data. To remain competitive, businesses must adapt to online sales and processes quickly, which can be boosted with properly formatted data. By dropping the Co-op from its name and rebranding the industry program as SEMA Data, Ho hopes to put the emphasis on data and wants companies to view it as a power source for their businesses.