Taking a Play From the Replacement-Parts Side of the Business

SEMA News—August 2016


By Jon Wyly

Taking a Play From the Replacement-Parts Side of the Business

In the grand scheme of things, the automotive specialty parts and accessories business is relatively new compared to the replacement-parts side of the business, which has been serving up repair parts as long as there have been automobiles. In that extra 50 years or so, the replacement segment set new standards in business processes, inventory management, manufacturing and cataloging that specialty-parts businesses had to catch up on. So it’s only natural that what might be a tried-and-true process for the replacement folks could feel like something new to us. Right?

But we took a different approach in many ways, didn’t we? Innovation has always been key to the growth and success of the SEMA side of the parts world. Inventing new things to enhance, personalize and increase the performance of our vehicles is our meat and potatoes. Testing the limits in speed, durability, power output and design drive our very existence in a “no-limits” environment where even the very best of the original-equipment manufacturers’ efforts can be improved on.

So why is it that the replacement-parts side of the business has been kicking our asses for years when it comes to creating, storing and distributing product data to power today’s business systems and e-commerce platforms? You have to admit, they just do it right, in large part. And the reason for their success is not complicated at all.

Quite simply, they have made a priority out of creating quality, complete product data.

Meanwhile, specialty-parts businesses by and large look at data management as a chore, dreaded homework, and an interruption of our important activities, such as racing and car shows. Or, even more difficult to swallow, the common response is, “We’re too busy to manage our product data.” Frankly, when the team at the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) hears that excuse—and we get it a lot—what we really hear is, “We don’t have time to grow our sales.”

Well, as I have been shouting from this column for several years now, if you are not currently actively managing the authoring and aggregation of your product data and treating it as an ongoing, important, necessary part of business, then you are at risk. The good news is that there is a simple solution, and that is to get started now. The SDC can provide a wealth of advice and assistance to get you going.

Also worth mentioning is that the preferred method of data management in the replacement-parts business has always been to use internal resources to self-manage every detail. After all, who knows more about your products than you? Would you really rather hire an outside party to control this critical element of your business—which, by the way, has a lot to do with how your company and products are presented to the marketplace?

In the replacement-parts world, the catalog manager is a respected position that carries a great responsibility, and there is great pride of ownership in the work. Consider adding that staff position as a great place to start and maintain a truly high-quality data set that will make you money in more ways than you can imagine.

To learn more about the SDC and how to make your product data generate more sales, contact Director of Membership Jim Graven via e-mail at jimg@semadatacoop.org or by phone at 888-958-6698 x4. Effective product data management is more affordable than you might think.

Quite simply, the replacement parts side of the business has made a priority out of creating quality, complete product data.

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