SEMA Data Services:
New Needs, New Offerings, New Name
By Chris Kersting
Nearly 10 years ago, SEMA embarked on a mission to become a central industry source of standardized product data for the specialty aftermarket. The need was clear even prior to that time, as industry resellers and consumers had turned to internet searches and electronic catalogs to research availability and make purchase decisions.
In response to member requests and building on newly established ACES and PIES industry data standards, SEMA formed the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) to support efforts that would help the many small businesses in the aftermarket harness the power of standardized data and online catalogs.
With data standards just emerging, however, manufacturers struggled to adapt to the new formats, and resellers struggled to draw on its full potential.
Today, the SDC has moved beyond serving as a basic storehouse and distribution point for manufacturers’ standardized product data. It has evolved to help industry members with their changing needs.
SDC now includes a full suite of services, including a data team that coaches and assists manufacturers with product data. There is also a new software platform for product cataloging that is far easier to use than the predecessor platform, and tools to streamline communication between a brand and its reseller customers. Additionally, there are custom APIs and plug-ins for
e-commerce websites to speed up data imports and power online catalog search.
However, as a great philosopher once said, “The only constant in life is change.”
With advancements in technology, tools of communication, types of vehicles in operation, and ways consumers seek out products to modify those vehicles, product data has become even more critical as an energy source to power product searches and results. And even though the ACES and PIES standards have been widely adopted at this point, variances in information provided from manufacturer to manufacturer mean hardships for resellers seeking to market products and confusion for consumers wanting to purchase products.
Recognizing the importance quality product data has in powering commerce from the factory to the garage, the SEMA Data Co-op has rebranded, removing “Co-op” from its name to put the emphasis on Data as it takes the next evolutionary step toward enabling companies to tap into a cleaner source of product information—not only standardized but also normalized and ready-made for searches.
By normalizing descriptions, fitments and other facets of product information, SEMA Data will help manufacturers and retailers share the kind of consistent data that will permit product searches and data accuracy to an even greater degree.
Especially for smaller companies with limited means when it comes to maintaining standardized product data, this process will make a big difference. In the end, SEMA Data aims to be the industry’s go-to resource for product information. With its new data programs and services, it will serve as the resource to power search, source and commerce into the future.
You’ll be hearing more about SEMA Data and its new capabilities leading up to the 2021 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where the spotlight will shine on new tools to help resellers draw on the full potential of available product information. For now, you can view the range of services and benefits available through SEMA Data at www.semadata.org.