SEMA News—October 2012

By Jon Wyly

Product Data

Fuel for the Retail Sales Machine

  Jon Wyly. CEO-SEMA Data-Co-op 
Think about the last time you wanted to make a significant purchase. Did you do any research, or did you just run down to the nearest store and pay whatever price they were asking for the item?

On average, more than 80% of consumers research products before buying. Many of those purchases happen in brick-and-mortar retail stores, and many happen online. The point here is not where a product is purchased but rather how the buying decision is made. You can’t do research without product information, right?

So how do consumers research? Some rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, magazines and other media; but the fact is that today’s technology makes the Internet a natural place for consumer research, regardless of where the transaction ultimately takes place. It’s all about visibility of product details, images and features that set the stage for a consumer buying decision.

Consumers these days are pretty savvy about how they spend their money. And with the growing amount of information available online, researching is pretty darn easy. So why not make sure that your products are presented consistently, accurately and in the kind of great detail that well-managed product data can provide? Do you really want someone who just learned about your products yesterday to be writing features and benefits copy today?

As an industry, we can no longer afford to bet our sales growth on whether or not counterpeople will represent our products completely. Nor can we be sure that our verbal recommendations at the point of sale will satisfy the informational needs of our customers. We must put our best information forward to ensure that buyers have the details they need at their fingertips online and that counterpeople can answer inquiries with accuracy, confidence and consistency.

The supplier (manufacturer) must own the data-management process, and the wholesale and retail channels must have affordable, complete, rich product data available in a format that meets their systems needs. It is this relationship that will grow our businesses through greater product awareness, broader market presence and confidence-inspiring content that consumers can relate to.


As an industry, we can no longer afford to bet our sales growth on whether or not counterpeople will represent our products completely. 

High quality, well-maintained product data will:
  • Introduce new parts more efficiently
  • Get you up-to-speed faster with new customers
  • Enable consistent distribution of accurate pricing information
  • Enable online lookups on e-commerce and manufacturer websites
  • More effectively control data content and marketing messages
  • Ensure “visibility” to online consumers through search engines and websites
  • Enable synchronization of data files to minimize “bad” data in customer systems
  • Help you sell more by having products represented across thousands of wholesale, brick-and-mortar and web business systems
  • Improve efficiency in distribution and shipping through accurate weights and measures, package size, UPC codes and more
  • Save money by engaging with the lowest cost solution available: the SEMA Data Co-op

The answer may be simple but, as is often the case, the execution is complicated. All we really have to do is get all the data together in one place in a standardized format, store it securely and enable distribution to approved receivers in the formats they need to populate their business systems.

Sounds simple, but it’s not so easy. That’s why the SEMA Board of Directors has given the go-ahead to the SEMA Data Co-op, equipping it with the best people, guidance and funding they could muster. All we need to succeed is for every product supplier and every product reseller to join our effort and start helping each other.

That part is simple.

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