April 10, 2016

IDEA Dictionary: Invoice Description

When dealing with data, and all related terminology, you may feel like you’re trying to speak a foreign language. In the interest of keeping things clear and simple, we will introduce commonly used terms that will help you navigate the data shorthand and learn the lingo. This week, we bring you: Invoice Description.

Manufacturers use the Product Descriptor Database (PDD) as a guide for uploading their product information into the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). The PDD helps manufacturers understand all of the data fields that they can possibly fill out in the IDW, and provides a standardized template for how each field should be populated and managed. The PDD contains several description fields, including concatenated, catalog, and invoice descriptions.

The key objective of the invoice description field is to clearly identify what a product is. The challenge is that the field is limited to only 40 characters, but the description has to be unique to the product.

Questions about the invoice description field are quite common among manufacturers: Is the invoice description really that important? Why does it have to be unique to the product? How can I make it unique but keep the description within the 40 character limit? Below, we have outlined a few examples to demonstrate how having a proper invoice description can make or break your product sales.

  • Consider a case when a product’s provided invoice description is just “Tape”, while in the catalog, it’s marked as “1100-G”. Imagine how frustrating or confusing it must be for the sales person, if that’s all the information they are able to see in the system. How are they to know what the “G” stands for? – Gray? Green? Gaffer tape? Having a unique invoice description, such as “Tape Gray”, would make the sales person’s job much easier and lessen room for error.
  • In some cases, the software system of a particular distributor branch may not display a product’s size information. If a sales person at that branch doesn’t also have access to the full catalog description, how are they to find out the length and width of this “1100-G” tape? Keeping the distributor’s possible software limitations in mind, it would be helpful if the manufacturer included the size in the invoice description.
  • Understandably, making your invoice description specific enough while keeping it under 40 characters can be challenging. The sole reason this data field is so restrictive is due to distributor software system limitations, many of which simply won’t hold anything beyond the first 40 characters. IDEA offers our manufacturers help to maximize the value of these 40 characters through PDD guidelines and the support of our data management team.

For more on invoice descriptions or related information, please contact your Data Management Specialist.


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