Emerging Trend: Standards in Product Data

SEMA Member News—November/December 2013

Emerging Trend: Standards in Product Data

By Amanda Gubbins

Good, clean data ensures that all parties in the distribution chain can do their jobs and that consumers get the best products possible. The challenge comes in the variance of formats that are used by different organizations to classify and store their own product data.


The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) validates product data for accuracy and compliance in whatever forms the manufacturer provides it.
The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) validates product data for accuracy and compliance in whatever forms the manufacturer provides it. 

Patty Putcharkan, data intelligence manager at MagnaFlow, explained that automotive product data historically has not adhered to any kind of industry standard, creating issues for organizations that need to exchange information. But Putcharkan has noticed that beginning to change.

“Now that the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) legacy dataset has evolved from being a flat file to AAIA Catalog Enhanced Standard (ACES) and Product Information Exchange Standard (PIES) formats, it’s allowed easier mapping and conversions of the vehicle attributes into a relational database,” she said.

The data quality from manufacturers impacts wholesale distributors and other receivers as they prepare products for sale. Dave Ziozios, CEO of Motovicity Distribution, understands how complicated the issue can be.

“Data is a very ambiguous and expansive subject,” he said. “I think that oftentimes it’s overwhelming to all members of the vertical chain of distributors, from manufacturers down.”

However, Ziozios is optimistic that the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) will make the standardization process easier for everyone, and Jon Wyly, CEO of the SDC, said that the co-op validates product data for accuracy and compliance in whatever forms the manufacturer provides it. On the receiver end, the SDC is a one-stop shop for collecting information from multiple manufacturers in the format and timeframe they need. This eliminates the need for manufacturers to create multiple formats or for receivers to spend extra time organizing the data for their systems.

The SDC’s goal is to continually find ways to make the process easier, resulting in a higher rate of participation that will ultimately benefit the entire industry. About 220 suppliers and 170 receivers are currently part of the SDC, with the numbers growing each week.

“We’re all about service first and want to make it as easy and affordable as possible,” said Wyly.

Putcharkan believes there are many benefits to standardizing data for the manufacturers, all the way to the consumer.

“Making data consistent through standardization allows manufactures like us to bring our products to market faster by seamlessly exchanging product data with our distributors, wholesalers and retailers,” she said.

Ziozios agreed that the process doesn’t need to be painful.

“There are some companies out there that are really taking proactive steps to ensure that they are meeting and exceeding not just industry but commerce standards as a whole,” he said. “I find that very encouraging. It’s really not an impossible, insurmountable task.”

Educational Sessions Powered by ETTN

The Emerging Trends and Technology Network (ETTN) is sponsoring four sessions in the online marketing track at the SEMA Show. The details and a description of each are listed below.

Tuesday, November 5, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Room N260

Google will present “Road to Winning Drivers—The Digital Shift.” The digital age has changed the way drivers make automotive product purchase decisions. Google’s automotive aftermarket team will share exclusive research on how search, mobile and video play an integral role in the road to winning drivers.

Tuesday, November 5, 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m., Room N260

Part two of the Google presentation is “Road to Winning Drivers—Driving Sales in a Multi-Device World.” The Google automotive aftermarket team will share the latest product news across search, mobile and video that will enable aftermarket businesses to connect with today’s digital shoppers across platforms and ultimately drive sales.

Thursday, November 7, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Room N260

Andy Dellenbach (MindOverEye) and Stuart John (Source Interlink Media) will present “Mobile Marketing: 10 Things That Are Changing Your Business Now and Forever.” Learn how not to get left behind and 10 things you must do and errors to avoid in the mobile space. The duo will break down the platform mix (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry) and discuss how mobile apps and other emerging technologies are driving interactive in B2B and B2C marketing.

Thursday, November 7, 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m., Room N260

Joseph Myers, senior account executive with Trinet Solutions, will present “How to Effectively Engage Your Customers Through Facebook.” Many companies have Facebook pages, but few know how to effectively interact with customers in a way that encourages loyalty and company sales. Discover how to turn Facebook friends into brand enthusiasts and maximize customer engagement online.