June 3, 2015

Eliminating Weak Links Through Product Data Quality Checks

Data quality is only as strong as its weakest link. As such, the quality of URLs, or the links to a manufacturer’s images and documents, is key to IDEA’s Data Certification Program. The program has two key components: compliance and excellence. Compliance measures the completeness of manufacturers’ product data within 43 critical data fields, while excellence measures the quality of the populated critical data fields. Having up-to-date URLs linking to the latest version of a manufacturer’s product information (e.g., specification sheets, installation videos, marketing images, etc.) is critical when conducting eCommerce.

Broken URLs are the bane of distributors’ web stores, potentially spoiling a visitor’s experience and calling into question the supplier’s commitment to quality. To help avoid this, IDEA periodically runs checks on manufacturers’ URLs in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). When we find broken links, we open a quality case and report the broken URLs to the manufacturer for repair.

Beginning July 1, 2015, as part of our data excellence review, IDEA will implement a process that takes URL checks a step further: at the start of each quarter, IDEA will run a full URL check on all images and documents in the IDW to identify broken links and remove the bad links within three business days. After this URL check, we will open a quality case, as before, and our Data Management Specialist (DMS) team will contact each IDW manufacturer account with the list of their affected products.

The manufacturer will then have two weeks to populate new, working URLs to the IDW before we run a second URL check on their data. If no broken links are found in the second check, we will run one more check two weeks later. If no broken links are found after the third check, the data quality case will be closed.

If broken links are found on the second follow-up check, we will remove the bad URLs once again and generate a support invoice for the time spent on this clean up. We will continue to run the URL checks every two weeks on accounts with suspected broken URLs until no more are found. These URL checks will contribute to billable support hours.

This process of removing bad URLs for images, specification sheets, and/or other documents will likely affect the compliance metric for manufacturers who have committed to populating all 43 critical data fields by October 1. Manufacturers who have already achieved at least 95% compliance will need to re-populate the broken URLs with good data in order to maintain their standing. If the links are not corrected in four weeks, the manufacturer will be removed from IDEA’s Manufacturer Achievement section of IDEA’s website.

If you have any questions about URLs or the new policy above, please contact your Data Management Specialist.