May 13, 2014

Finders-Keepers: How You Can Use Attributes to Make Sure Your Customers Can Find Your Products

For the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), distributors have requested that manufacturers provide the brand name and a minimum of four additional attributes for each product they sell. Distributors prefer this data to be normalized, meaning an attribute, such as “Black,” will be spelled consistently across all products (e.g. no variations, such as “blk” or “BLACK”). Normalized values save distributors time by making it easier for their sales teams and countermen to find products within their business systems or SmarteCat catalog. They also allow distributors to help contractor software estimating packages and online end users to locate desired products more quickly. Finally, distributors can use these normalized attributes when building the keyword structure in the back-end of their mobile apps and web storefronts to bring up a manufacturer’s products in web searches.

Manufacturers are concerned that normalizing attributes may commoditize their products and have been hesitant to offer this information. However, if you are a manufacturer, providing these attributes increases the likelihood that your products will appear in final search results by grouping them with similar products in a way that makes sense to the searcher. The more customized your products’ attributes are, the less likely it is that your products will appear in those search results.

How exactly do normalized attributes help distributors and their customers find your products? Consider this example:

Before going fishing this weekend, you realize that you need to replace your old fishing reel. You grab your laptop, pull up a sporting goods website, and type in “fishing reel” to begin your search for a new one…

  • You know you’ll be in Fresh Water *click*
  • You prefer an Open Face Reel *click*
  • Your fishing rod is red so you’d prefer a RED reel to match *click*
  • You’d like a reel made of Graphite *click*

Multiple brands come up in your search results, and you base your final purchase decision on the images, product descriptions and other marketing content the reel manufacturers have provided. However, each characteristic of the reel that you had clicked to get from your initial search term of “fishing reel” to your final search results was a product attribute. Without those attributes, the reel you ultimately decided to buy would likely not have shown up in your final search results at all.

Similarly, electrical distributors use product attributes to help ensure your products appear in those final search results, whether that search is conducted by a distributor’s sales team within their business systems, by end users looking for products online, or by contractor software estimating systems. When you load your attributes to the IDW, you can promote your products in a consistent manner and be sure that end users are seeing your products the way you want them to be marketed. You are helping distributors make sure their sales teams and customers can find your products. Without those attributes, are you confident your product will come up in that final search?