SEMA DATA CO-OP
By Jon Wyly
Your Most Powerful Sales Tool: Quality Product Data
As the staff at the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) works each day with newly onboarded suppliers and coaches good data habits to existing members, a common and disturbing theme continues to appear in our quest to build the definitive data repository for the specialty parts marketplace. That theme is the lack of understanding of the difference between data completeness and data quality.
As my good friend Bob Moore likes to say, product data can meet all the criteria of the industry ACES and PIES standards yet be totally useless in practical application. His example of “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in nineteen hundred and forty-two” meets the grammatical requirements for a sentence and the spelling is correct, but the content is wrong. Bad content = bad quality = bad data!
Here’s an example that hits a little closer to home. Looking at a long description, an 80-character data field for a tonneau cover, one might expect something like this: “Black vinyl roll-up tonneau cover 2007-2014 Ford F150 long bed.” Unfortunately, you will often see something like this: “Ford F-150 8ft. Bed.”
Not only does the second description fail to provide much-needed information to the reader, but it also has virtually no fuel for search functions on websites, point-of-sale systems and the Internet in general. On many sites, if you search for “black F150 tonneau cover,” that part will not show up at all or will be ranked so low that it will never be found.
Too often, short cuts are taken in filling out important data fields, and the result is lost sales, excessive returns and a feeling that “product data isn’t important.” Don’t shoot the messenger! If you are not growing sales from an expanded online presence, if returns are creeping up, or if you can’t find your own parts through search tools, then look at your product data! Data completeness is important; data quality (content) is critical!
In 2016, the SDC is placing a high focus on improving data content, and many of you will get calls from our team seeking to engage you in a data-quality push. Please take it seriously and own the process with enthusiasm! The only cost to you is some time and effort to provide the best data content you can muster. We will help you through the process and make sure that your new, improved data is distributed efficiently throughout your customer base.
As I have said many times before, product data is a critical element in today’s technology-driven business world, and those who neglect its importance are going to pay the price. Don’t look at product data management as an expense; view it as an opportunity to differentiate your products from your competitors and to position for successful sales now and in the future.
The SDC team is at the ready to help you make your data the best it can be!
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 jimg@SEMAdatacoop.org or 888-958-6698 x4.