October 22, 2014

IDEA Dictionary: What is an Attribute?

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 in each newsletter that will help you navigate the data shorthand and learn the lingo. This week, we bring you: attribute.

An “attribute” is a value that describes a product characteristic (e.g. Color, Voltage, Tensile Strength, etc.).

Though the definition above could apply to any product characteristic, IDEA separates Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) product characteristics into two separate categories:

  • FIELDS: The group of product characteristics covering basic transactional data (e.g. price, packaging, description, catalog number, etc.), as defined by the Product Descriptor Database, or PDD. Fields are specific to a singular item, rather than to an entire product category.
  • ATTRIBUTES: Any additional enhancing descriptors of a product beyond the set of transactional fields. Attributes are values (e.g. Color, Voltage, Tensile Strength, etc.) that may be applied to a whole category of products. For example, all wire cutters (product category) have a Cable Size (attribute) and Handle Type (attribute), regardless of whether they are manual or battery-powered. However, those different types of wire cutters may not both have an applicable Material Safety Data Sheet (field), as fields are specific to singular items.

    The Electrical Attribute Schema defines the attributes available for specific product categories. The Schema, created by IDEA and specific to the electrical industry, is a standards template based on the global United Nations Standard Products and Services Codes (UNSPSC) product categorization system.  

Recently, IDEA and the electrical channel identified
43 critical fields (42 transactional fields, plus 1 attribute set) which distributors deem necessary to conduct business and sell manufacturers’ products.

If you have any questions regarding the meaning of “attribute” or any other IDW terms, please contact your Data Management Specialist. Requests for future definitions can be sent to communications@idea4industry.com