Product data is essential to running a business – it feeds external channels through web stores, quotes, and bids, and internal channels through ERP systems and inventory management. Both internal and external processes work most efficiently when that data is up-to-date. The more access internal staff and external customers have to accurate information about a manufacturer’s products and services, the better.
The best way for distributors to ensure that the data in their systems is current is to continually receive that data straight from the source: their manufacturer trading partners. When distributors receive information directly, there is no second-guessing the validity of important information such as price or item status. Rather than individually contacting each manufacturer, which consumes valuable time and effort, distributors may subscribe to a data pool service, like the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). Others, however, may choose to take data gathering into their own hands and source the data.
Sourcing data is the act of harvesting product information from a manufacturer’s public website or other public websites without the manufacturer’s express consent or involvement. Why is sourcing such a common practice? Because distributors need transactional and marketing data for all the items they sell. If data isn’t available through a data provider – but is still essential to selling a product – distributors may reason that sourced data is better than no data.
There are a variety of pitfalls with sourced data, however. If the data has not been harvested directly from the manufacturer’s website, it may not be of the highest quality or verifiable as current. Sourced data must be subjected to quality checks and standardized, so that that product information is crisp and correct. As mentioned in our eCommerce series, the customer experience on web stores is critical. Quality data contributes to simplified categorization, easy and accurate searches, and overall visual appeal of products.
Additionally, sourced data is not easy to keep up-to-date and is often incomplete. For instance, transactional data needed to actually order the product – pricing information, package quantities, or order minimums – is rarely found on the manufacturer’s public website. While marketing content may not change often, if a manufacturer posts an updated product image or new marketing collateral to its website, the harvested data that resides locally is no longer current. Your customers may make buying decisions based on outdated information.
Many manufacturers and distributors see the value in getting standardized, high quality, and current data directly from trading partners at one source. This is why IDEA was created – to be a one-to-many solution for the industry. Within the IDW, distributors have access to their manufacturers’ latest product information 24/7/365. Any missing SKUs and product information can be requested through the data quality report tool in the IDW. Any data that is requested by distributors that cannot be obtained directly from the manufacturer may be sourced by IDEA’s Data Quality Specialists and subjected to data quality checks before being placed in the IDW. IDEA only acquires data from the manufacturer’s public website, never from secondary sources, and focuses on the marketing content needed for distributor web stores. We put the harvested data through a peer review process to ensure the quality of the images, documents, and the product attributes.
IDEA’s Data Certification Program seeks to bring more complete data than ever to the channel, ensuring that distributors have fully attributed and high-quality data with which to do business. In fact, IDEA recently announced that over one million SKUs are now fully attributed in the IDW, with estimates putting that number closer to 1.5 million by the October 1 compliance deadline for manufacturers.
This effort seeks to reduce the number of locations that distributors need to go to find the product data they need to successfully sell their manufacturers’ products. What’s the next step once they have data in which they are confident? Leveraging that data into web stores, business operations, and overall success.
To learn more about the Data Certification Program, click here, or contact one of our Data Management Specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.