Product Data: Fuel for the Retail Sales Machine, Revisited

SEMA News—March 2017

SEMA DATA Co-op

By Jon Wyly

Product Data: Fuel for the Retail Sales Machine, Revisited

This month marks my final article as CEO of the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) before I hand over the operational reins to Craig Schmutzler, vice president of operations, who will be the driving force behind the SDC moving forward. Working with Jim Graven, senior director of membership, and Stephanie Jones, director of e-business, and with oversight from Mike Spagnola, vice president of OEM and product development programs, Schmutzler will guide our very capable team to even greater success. They are all here to serve you, our members, and I encourage you to follow their lead as they continue to expand the scope and capabilities of the SDC.

As a reminder of just how focused we are on our mission, I am leaving you with the following excerpts from one of my very first articles back in 2012. The details are as true today as they were five years ago, but the changes in the industry’s awareness and capabilities have been significant. Today, more than 500 brands are either available or in the process of onboarding into the SDC repository, and more than 20,000 exports are going out monthly, feeding tens of thousands wholesale, retail and online sellers. If you are just now starting your data-management journey, don’t wait any longer. It is very likely that your competition is among those 500-plus SDC members.

From SEMA News, October 2012

Think about the last time you wanted to make a significant purchase. Did you do any research, or did you just run down to the nearest store and pay whatever price they were asking for the item?

On average, more than 80% of consumers research products before buying. Many of those purchases happen in brick-and-mortar retail stores, and many happen online. The point here is not where a product is purchased but rather how the buying decision is made. You can’t do research without product information, right?

So how do consumers research? Some rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, magazines and other media; but the fact is that today’s technology makes the internet a natural place for consumer research, regardless of where the transaction ultimately takes place. It’s all about visibility of product details, images and features that set the stage for a consumer buying decision.

Consumers these days are pretty savvy about how they spend their money. And with the growing amount of information available online, researching is pretty darn easy. So why not make sure that your products are presented consistently, accurately and in the kind of great detail that well-managed product data can provide? Do you really want someone who just learned about your products yesterday to be writing features and benefits copy today?

As an industry, we can no longer afford to bet our sales growth on whether or not counter people will represent our products completely. Nor can we be sure that our verbal recommendations at the point of sale will satisfy the informational needs of our customers. We must put our best information forward to ensure that buyers have the details they need at their fingertips online and that counter people can answer inquiries with accuracy, confidence and consistency.

The supplier (manufacturer) must own the data-management process, and the wholesale and retail channels must have affordable, complete, rich product data available in a format that meets their system’s needs. It is this relationship that will grow our businesses through greater product awareness, broader market presence and confidence-inspiring content that consumers can relate to.

High quality, well-maintained product data will:

  • Introduce new parts more efficiently.
  • Get you up-to-speed faster with new customers.
  • Enable consistent distribution of accurate pricing information.
  • Enable online lookups on e-commerce and manufacturer websites.
  • More effectively control data content and marketing messages.
  • Ensure “visibility” to online consumers through search engines and websites.
  • Enable synchronization of data files to minimize “bad” data in customer systems.
  • Help you sell more by having products represented across thousands of wholesale, brick-and-mortar and web business systems.
  • Improve efficiency in distribution and shipping through accurate weights and measures, package size, UPC codes and more.
  • Save money by engaging with the lowest cost solution available: the SEMA Data Co-op.

To learn more about how you can take control and manage your product data at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Membership Manager Allen Horwitz via email at allenh@semadatacoop.org or by phone at 888-958-6698 x9.

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