SEMA Data Co-op:
Its Time Has Come
For several years now, SEMA and our industry members have been working to build the industry’s most comprehensive and useful digital product data resource. The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) now houses, updates and distributes product data for more than 480 active brands. And industry companies—both suppliers and resellers—are joining the SDC at an unprecedented pace. There is no single reason why, but a culmination of several factors that make the SDC increasingly vital to the industry. If you haven’t gotten on board, now’s the time.
From a marketing and sales standpoint, consumers are making it clear that they want to learn about products through online search. Although it is still possible to market your products without an online presence, the future is digital, and more and more sales are being lost—even at present—if your products don’t show up in search results. It’s taken a while, but that realization is penetrating the industry, and companies are taking action.
For example, if digital product information is to be useful, all participants in the channel need to be doing their part. The first step has been to work with manufacturers to provide high-quality and useful data. As of this writing, more than 300 brands in the SDC have achieved platinum data status, with many more moving through gold and silver status as they seek to improve their data. With ever more useful data now in the SDC product database, a related objective has been to assist resellers in accessing and using the data to market and sell products.
SDC developers have been hard at work improving internal systems to make it easier for more resellers, large and small, to use and access the data. Automated data transfers using the SDC Application Program Interface are becoming the norm. This permits computerized interactions that greatly speed product information workflow, allowing resellers to get selected data as it becomes available. And manufacturers benefit from being able to automate transfer of product information to resellers as soon as a new product is ready for sale.
Then there’s the introduction of the new SDC WooCommerce plug-in (Beta release), which has gained interest among both manufacturers and resellers. The plug-in is essentially a pre-made tool to simplify automated data transfer that will be especially useful to smaller specialty retail operations. Resellers can easily download the plug-in, select the brands and categories of products they want to receive, and begin automated imports to their online stores—allowing product searches for their websites.
The advantage of this kind of automated data transfer is that computers, talking to other computers, will be quicker to access new information, and the entire workflow between supplier and reseller becomes more efficient. Access for resellers improves, and manufacturers gain enhanced ability to quickly launch products via their chosen resellers.
WooCommerce is one of the most widely used e-commerce platforms, so it made sense for SDC to lead with development of the plug-in for WooCommerce retail sites. But as we gain expertise with implementing this plug-in, the door will open to offering similar plug-ins for other common retail platforms. Meanwhile, if you are a retailer with a WooCommerce platform, by all means download the plug-in. And if you’re not there already, the benefits of instant, automated data transfer are now easily within reach.
The industry is finally forging ahead when it comes to digital product information. The SDC has been evolving and providing useful tools along the way. And we have only just begun. Plans are in the works to provide a new Product Information Management System that we expect will allow our manufacturer members even greater autonomy and efficiency in creating and managing their product data. And that will likewise mean greater ease of use for resellers eager to increase sales.