SEMA News—October 2017

Is Your Data Missing Pieces? Let Us Help You Complete the Puzzle

By Craig Schmutzler

How many times have you received a product and opened the package only to find that a key component or two was missing? Maybe it was a fastener. Perhaps it was the instructions. It could be you didn’t even realize anything was missing until well into the assembly process. The result was likely a trip to the store for a replacement, a phone call to the manufacturer, or an attempt to simply make it work. Frustrating.

Successful manufacturers work hard to ensure that they deliver complete products along with the supporting materials needed for a successful assembly or installation. Business owners want happy customers, positive word of mouth and minimal returns. Missing parts can certainly be harmful to business; incomplete product data can be devastating.

Earlier this year, the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) launched a marketing campaign that asks the question, “You don’t distribute incomplete products; why would you distribute incomplete product data?” The campaign presents a series of incomplete jigsaw puzzles with a variety of common aftermarket parts as the subject matter. The graphic is eye-catching; the message is serious.

Incomplete product data is an all-too-common issue, causing frustration for consumers, grief for resellers, and lost sales for manufacturers. Online shoppers crave complete quality product data to make the best possible buying decisions. Missing images, poor descriptions and inaccurate fitment data will drive customers to competitors.

Product content-management firm Salsify conducted a study last year of more than 1,000 U.S. shoppers to better understand the importance of quality product descriptions to sales conversions. Product descriptions ranked first in importance in buying decisions, followed by reviews and price. Price was less important than descriptions and reviews. That should tell us something about the importance of quality product data.

Shotfarm, another product-management firm, surveyed more than 1,500 consumers and came to similar conclusions regarding the impact of product content on sales. Shotfarm found a clear connection between brand trust and quality content. Poor product content was responsible for 40% of online shoppers returning an item and 30% abandoning their shopping carts. The eye-opener in this study was that 87% of surveyed consumers said they would be unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer who provided inaccurate product data.

The most common gaps we see are in product descriptions and digital assets. In the case of both product descriptions and digital assets, we advocate a “more is better” approach. Consumers crave complete, quality content.

Industry standards provide around 15 different description fields, each with its own use for product data. Two simple examples are the Short Product Description and the Invoice Product Description.

The short description is limited to 20 characters and describes the product at a simple level. An example of a good short description is “Alternator.” Simple.

An invoice description is used to describe a product for use in a receipt/invoice. This description will also usually show up in a resellers point-of-sale system as a reference for operators to qualify products. An example of a good invoice description is “AC Delco Alternator 90 Amp.”

As with descriptions, there are several varieties of digital asset types available for use. Some examples, each with its own place in the standards, are Logo, Installation Instructions, Out-of-Package Photo, In-Package Photo, Mounted Photo, Lifestyle Photo, and Brochure. Increasing the quantity and quality of digital assets improves product presentation, strengthens brand trust and simplifies the buying decision for consumers.

SDC recommends that manufacturers provide as much as possible in the way of descriptions, images and video content. If your data is incomplete or inaccurate, let us help. Our analysts are experts at finding the missing pieces and helping you complete your data puzzle. We stand ready to assist. 

To learn more about how you can take control and manage your product data at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Membership Manager Allen Horwitz via email at or by phone at 888-958-6698 x9.

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