SEMA News—May 2015

By Jon Wyly

Product Data: Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes

Jon Wyly, CEO of the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC), has assembled a handpicked team of industry veterans to grow and take the co-op in exciting new directions, including the launch of SEMA Search.“You’ll never truly understand another person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” So true. Taking the time to really understand your customers’ needs—from their perspective—can pay big dividends in goodwill and lasting, productive relationships.

For example, ask any retailer who is trying to grow his business online what he needs most from you, and the topic of rich product data will be front of mind.

It’s the lifeblood of a business where the consumer is truly in charge of his interaction with the retailer. Countless resources are expended to drive traffic to a retailer’s website, and without the benefit of a knowledgeable salesperson, the parts presentation itself becomes the “silent salesman.” Poor data? All that effort and money are wasted if the deal can’t be closed.

The bottom line is that an ongoing regimen of product data gathering, continued expansion and quality control are critical to the success of your business. You must own the process, understand its importance and seek help when you get confused or sidetracked. The good news is that there is quality, affordable help available.

We at the SEMA Data Co-op are often told, “We just don’t have the time to manage our product data.” As a business owner or sales manager, would you as easily accept a buyer telling you that he didn’t have time to purchase raw materials or goods? Or a salesperson who said that he didn’t have time to call on customers? Probably not, and I use those examples because they illustrate how fundamental good data management and ownership have become to successful business.

Taking the time to really understand your customers’ needs—from their perspective—can pay big dividends in goodwill and lasting, productive relationships.

Your customers are counting on a supply of data to run their business systems; your own company needs data to manage a website, shipping systems and more; and retail customers are making daily buying decisions based on the message being conveyed by your product information. Worth repeating as well is the scenario that if you don’t provide good data to your customers, many will just do the work themselves. Seymour AdThe net result might be some success, no thanks to you, but it is often accompanied by a loss of control of your marketing message that can create unhappy consumers, excess returns and other costly issues.

The answer? Own the process! Manage the data! Treat it as the valuable business asset it is. Turn its power loose, and
grow your sales in today’s digitally driven marketplace.

Don’t wait a minute longer to see what is going to happen, because I can tell you, it won’t be pretty. Sales will decline, customers will slowly migrate away from you, and competitive brands that understand the value of having their product data well managed and available will rob you of your market share.

To learn more about how you can take control of your product data and manage it at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Director of Membership Jim Graven at or 888-958-6698 x4.