The rise of eCommerce is changing traditional business practices, and the foundation of successful eBusiness is quality data. With a growing number of the electrical industry’s B2B transactions migrating online, data needs have grown from simple up-to-date pricing information to the full-scale marketing content necessary for eCommerce websites (e.g., zoomable product images and 3D demo videos). As part of IDEA’s continuous effort to better support the electrical channel’s web sales drive and effectively address the product data needs, we launched our Data Certification Program to measure the breadth, depth, and quality of data available in the IDW and guarantee that the information the users are pulling is as accurate and up-to-date as can be.
IDEA’s Data Certification Program uses different metrics to assess the completeness (“compliance”) and quality (“excellence”) of manufacturer-provided pricing and descriptive product information within 43 different data fields in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). These fields contain the type of content that is used to drive distributors’ internal and external-facing systems, and that distributors have identified as critical to accurately selling manufacturers’ products.
Where We Were
The Data Certification Program began with the primary goal of driving manufacturers to load content in all 43 of the critical fields for each of their products in the IDW. IDEA set a deadline of October 1, 2015 for manufacturers to bring at least 95% of their new and existing IDW items with a stock indicator code of stock, quick-ship, or non-stock to compliance. This goal was quickly met with the number of fully attributed SKUs increasing from 16,000 at the beginning of 2015 to over 1.4 million compliant items, a number that continues to grow.
After this substantial increase in the number of products with 43 completed data fields, the Data Certification Program expanded its focus in to improving the quality of that information. IDEA has been evaluating the quality of the information for each individual product using programmatic excellence measures based on industry standards and best practices, pushing for manufacturers to bring all of their compliant IDW items up to at least 95% programmatic excellence. Achieving excellence – the second milestone on the pathway to full data certification – has been IDEA’s 2016 goal for IDW manufacturers.
What We’ve Done
By achieving programmatic excellence across all 43 critical data fields, manufacturers can maintain brand control in how their products are portrayed, seen, and used by distributors. Better quality data leads to increased purchase orders and sale of products, so IDEA’s Data Management Specialist team worked with manufacturers to provide guidance to identify missing elements of their data. This guidance was given through webinars, blog posts, and online training sessions detailing the differences between compliance and programmatic excellence.
IDEA has also recently introduced field-level reports – in addition to the existing item-level reports - that allow distributors to view the percentage of a manufacturer’s items within each individual data field that have passed the Data Certification Program’s evaluations. These reports are available within the IDW and offer a deeper look at the completeness and quality of the manufacturer-supplied product content accessible through the IDW.
Our DMS team will continue to assist manufacturers with their individual Data Certification goals and progress by providing online training sessions; further, the IDEA blog regularly posts articles and resources relating to the Data Certification Program and programmatic excellence. Manufacturers and distributors alike can always check out the “Data Certification Program” tag to read the latest news.
Where We Are Headed
Once a manufacturer has achieved programmatic excellence, if the entire sample of SKUs selected for the excellence visual check passes, then all of the manufacturer's eligible items will be considered “certified.” Data Certification is a continuous process that requires constant maintenance of data, and IDEA will continue to provide assistance to manufacturers in this endeavor.
In addition, over the last few years, the industry’s focus has been primarily on the 43 critical data fields within the IDW – the fields housing basic “must-have” data, e.g., size, weight, spec sheets, etc. While the IDW’s 43 critical fields are considered crucial for distributors to conduct business and sell the manufacturers’ products, they by no means represent the full extent of the IDW’s capabilities. In actuality, the IDW has more than 350 data fields available for manufacturers to populate. IDEA encourages manufacturers to take advantage of the other fields to provide more in-depth information, differentiate their brand, and showcase their products as they see fit.