Innovating for the Future Plan Update For Manufacturers

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“The IDW Analytics Tool shows where our data quality errors and issue are; I never had that before. It makes my job 1000% easier.”
– Barbara Spadaro of Bridgeport Fittings

The Innovating for the Future Plan is an aggressive product content enhancement plan for the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) that addresses distributors’ evolving needs in the growing digital economy. The overall goal of the plan is to enable more efficient bids, sales transactions and eCommerce capabilities for distributors. IDEA is collaborating with the Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) comprised of 14 thought leaders from leading electrical distributor and manufacturer companies to execute this plan.

Better Data. Better Business.

Giving distributors the information they need to sell more of your products is a win-win. IDEA’s new IDW Analytics Tool has been hugely successful in helping manufacturers improve their product data at the source in their systems before the data ever gets to their trading partners. Using this tool, manufacturers are evaluating the health of their product data through the eyes of their customers.


Non-Specific Manufacturer UPC Numbers (98-Series)

IDEA is giving manufacturers the opportunity to link their proprietary UPC’s to the 98-Series non-
Specific Manufacturer UPC’s used extensively in contractor estimating and ordering systems.

100-year old habit
When a contractor is bidding on a contract and they make pricing requests to distributors, they simply need to price out a job in hopes that they win the contract. They don’t typically ask for a specific brand, they just want to know what the price is and if the distributor can supply it. These price requests come to distributors referencing a generic product code (98-Series UPC or non- Specific Manufacturer UPC) and maybe a generic description, usually no other information.

Increase brand recognition
Manufacturers that sell products with a generic counterpart can now provide a linkage between their products and the non-Specific Manufacturer UPC’s to increase brand recognition and simplify the decision making process for customers. More specifically, distributors have asked manufacturers to provide the “non-Specific Manufacturer UPC” field along with their own UPC when they load their data into the IDW. Distributors can then automate their processes to ensure that they are matching the right brands with the generic requests that come in from contractors.

Product Cross-References

IDEA will be hosting manufacturer-established product cross-references to provide authorized distributors a consistent way to access this information through the IDW. Access to this information through the IDW will give distributors the ability to electronically cross-reference the catalog numbers of comparable products between manufacturers and brands.

Get found more easily online
Distributors use this information to help increase sales for the manufacturer lines they carry. For example, this information can help distributors to enhance online catalog searches for their customers. When a customer searches a distributor’s online catalog for a product they do not carry, the distributor can use the catalog number the customer is searching on to display a similar product they do sell.

IDEA is asking all manufacturers that already maintain internal cross-references to provide that information to IDEA so that we can make it available to their authorized distributors.

More Granular Product Taxonomy

IDEA recently released the Electrical Attribute Schema v4.0, a standards template that enables manufacturers to communicate standardized product descriptors to you through the IDW. The product categories in the new Schema increased by almost 50% from the previous 3,468 product categories to more than 5,000. This increased granularity provides a more precise product categorization process for manufacturers and helps distributors to better represent products on their eCommerce sites.

New Industry-Specific 4-Digit Code
To increase the granularity of the Schema categories, IDEA developed a fifth level to the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®) taxonomy, the global standard for product categorization used as the foundation of the Schema. This granular fifth level supplements and builds off the first four levels of the taxonomy which are represented with an 8-digit UNSPSC code. All product categories in the new Schema have been assigned an industry-specific 4-digit code so that every product category within the more granular Schema has a unique identifier.

Manufacturers are encouraged to review the new Schema and attend a web-based training session to learn how to populate the new codes.

Breadth of Coverage

IDEA is actively expanding the IDW portfolio to include smaller specialty and secondary lines to increase its breadth of coverage within the channel. An audit was conducted of distributor stock lists to determine the key products that have missing information in the IDW.

Populate missing data or pledge your support
IDEA is working with manufacturers to populate essential marketing content (spec docs, attributes, images, descriptions) for all the products that are on multiple distributor stock lists. Detailed reports of the missing content have already been provided to manufacturers, and distributors are mandating for the missing content to be populated or for manufacturers to pledge their support to populate the content by Q1 2014. IDEA is providing a data sourcing service for those manufacturers that need additional resources to meet this mandate.

Open Access to Publicly-Available Content

Distributors have expressed a desire to access “publicly-available” product data in the IDW for all manufacturers, not just those they are specifically authorized to view and extract. By providing this access, manufacturers can increase exposure of products to new potential distributors, specifiers and buyers. IDEA has made these fields accessible to all IDW distributors subscribed to the IDW Catalog Level:

  • Seller/manufacturer
  • Catalog number
  • UPC code
  • UNSPSC code product category code
  • Invoice description (short mandatory field)

All other fields in the IDW will still require specific authorization to access, and manufacturers were given the opportunity to opt-out of this service.

Marketing Content for Web Stores

The IDW Bands of Excellence program recognizes manufacturers that have worked hard to populate the IDW with product marketing content that is essential for a web storefront: spec documents, attributes, images and descriptions (SAID elements). This program has been highly successful in recognizing manufacturers for providing marketing content to distributors, and has helped marketing content in the IDW increase more than 10 times within the first year of the program.

Achieve IDEA’s Platinum Band
With the proliferation of B2B eCommerce websites, and the associated demand from end users, the bands were significantly tightened from the original ranges to more closely align with the NAED Supplier Scorecards. The new criteria also has more stringent requirements for attribute population. The banding levels are now:

  • Platinum: 100% of stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements
  • Gold: 95-99% of stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements
  • Silver: 90-94% of stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements
  • Bronze: 85-89% of stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements

IDEA makes every effort to spread the word about your contribution to the channel once your company is banded. Check the IDEA website to find out your company’s status then contact IDEA to find out how you can achieve IDEA’s Platinum band.

Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information about this plan.