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Data Excellence Adds Up
Complete and accurate product information in the IDW improves the way products are displayed, maintained, and sold.
Much of the discussion at the NAED AdVenture Marketing Conference and Tech Bootcamp in August indicated that distributors are directing more focus on building a digital presence. Many distributors at these events said that while web sales do not yet represent a significant component of overall sales, they are looking to strategically grow online activity. Manufacturers and distributors alike acknowledged that accurate data is a crucial component of any such strategy.
Just over a year ago, IDEA introduced the Data Certification Program in response to the changing ways in which our industry is doing business. The Data Certification Program was designed to measure the completeness and quality of the transactional and descriptive product data—the information needed to conduct successful product research and online sales, etc. —available within the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW).
COMPLIANCE + EXCELLENCE = CERTIFIED
- Compliance – the first of two measurements within the Data Certification Program – assesses the completeness of the product data provided for each of a manufacturer’s eligible items in the IDW. An item is identified as “compliant” if it is fully attributed and populated with essential product information. Manufacturers’ primary focus since the launch of the Data Certification Program has been on achieving compliance. Thanks to industry support and dedication from IDW manufacturers, to date more than 1.2 million items in the IDW are compliant, up from 16,000 at the beginning of 2015.
- Excellence is the second measurement within the Data Certification Program. Once an item is compliant, its complete product information is subjected to the following two quarterly quality checks:
- Programmatic – Industry standards and IDEA best practices (a combination of industry standards, best practices, customer feedback, IDEA expertise, etc.) are applied to data at the item level.
- Visual – A representative sample of those items that have passed the programmatic quality check is subjected to a quarterly visual quality review, conducted by a team of IDEA’s Data Quality Specialists. If the entire sample passes the visual check, all items that have passed the programmatic check will be considered “certified.”
These checks ensure that manufacturers’ products are ready for distributor web store catalogs, trading partner business systems, and contractor estimating systems. Put simply, these quality checks will ensure that the product data in the IDW is truly valuable. For example, if an item has an image populated in the IDW (which it must have to be compliant), the quality checks will see whether the image is black and white or in color, whether it’s high resolution or low, whether it’s an image of just one item or a representative image of a group of items, etc.
- Certification – of both the compliance and excellence components – is an ongoing process for IDW manufacturers. Data accompanying any newly introduced products in the IDW will need to be complete and of high quality, while the product data for items already in the IDW must be maintained regularly. Why is constant maintenance necessary? Consider this:
When searching for a job, a well-structured and professional-looking résumé is essential to help a candidate stand out from the competition. Although creating this résumé can be time-intensive and may seem daunting at times, the job seeker will not be considered for a position if the potential employer cannot readily see all of his or her skills, past jobs, activities, etc. After the person lands the job, that résumé must be continually updated to accurately reflect the best of what he or she has to offer.
Likewise, when a manufacturer provides all of its products’ transactional and descriptive information in the IDW, it enables its trading partners to consistently promote its brand in the best light possible using the most accurate, up-to-date information that it would like to represent its products.