To keep up with changing business practices and rising competition, the electrical industry’s data needs have expanded from merely up-to-date pricing and transactional information to the full-scale marketing content necessary for today’s end-users – which includes things like detailed catalog descriptions, zoomable product images, and 3D demo video. As such, distributors that have access to complete, accurate, and consistent pricing and digital content can operate more effectively and have a leg up on the competition.
Manufacturers’ product and pricing information drives distributors’ internal and external-facing systems, from ERPs and catalogs to web storefronts and apps. When that data is of high quality, its positive impact is seen in all aspects of a distributor’s business—for example:
- Faster payments. Quality data lowers the number of errors in a distributor’s system, increasing efficiency and speeding up the quote-to-cash cycle.
- More accurate inventory management. Correct weight and dimensional information for pieces, boxes, and pallets help distributors plan warehouse space and cube out loads for delivery.
- Better control over resources. When product data is scrubbed and validated against industry eBusiness standards, its quality and consistency are ensured, reducing time and effort spent on translating or reformatting manufacturer content.
- Stronger customer relationships. When data is correct from the start, customer satisfaction increases.
- Smoother searches. Consistent data is needed to properly compare products on a web storefront, and attributed data facilitates data drill-downs. Complete data results in better searches (both online and within a distributor’s own system).
This clear need for accessible quality data, made available through the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW), was a motivating factor behind the creation of IDEA’s Data Certification Program. In fact, the pursuit of superior quality has been the program’s primary goal for 2016—but what do we mean by “programmatic excellence”?
Once a manufacturer’s item is compliant (its product and pricing data is completely populated within the IDW), the quality of that data is assessed. In the first of two quality checks—the “programmatic excellence” check— industry standards and IDEA best practices are applied to data at the item level. To date, more than 30 manufacturers’ complete information has passed this rigorous quality check and progressed closer to full data certification.
To keep momentum moving forward in the pursuit of excellence, we as an industry need to support manufacturers as they work to maintain high-quality data. Here is how IDEA is helping:
- Tools within the IDW. IDEA offers the IDW Excellence Module, which helps manufacturers identify and address quality errors at the source, and the Data Quality Reporting Tool, which allows distributors to inform manufacturers of missing SKUs and product information directly through the IDW.
- IDW training. IDEA hosts live and recorded webinars that provide an overview of programmatic excellence and a demo of the IDW Excellence Module. IDEA also shares Quick Reference Guides and related training videos with manufacturers to walk them through the IDW and data management process.
- Data management specialist (DMS) consulting and support. IDEA’s DMS team provides manufacturers with actionable reports to identify excellence issues and improve data quality.
DISTRIBUTORS CAN HELP
ADVOCATE. Both NAED and NEMA have endorsed the IDW as their preferred source of manufacturer content. Distributors should reach out to their manufacturers to highlight how necessary high-quality data is to conducting business and selling their products.
COMMUNICATE. Talk to manufacturers and help them monitor their data quality by using the Data Quality Reporting Tool to let them know when an issue occurs. Share with manufacturers how the information they provide is used. If they are going to devote time and resources to provide this data, they need to know it is actually being used.
DEDICATE. Commit to accessing product information through the IDW, rather than on a one-to-one basis or scraping from manufacturers’ websites. A single source enables manufacturers to load their data one time and share it with multiple trading partners simultaneously, ultimately cutting down on required effort and resources.
Data quality impacts the entire supply chain, from manufacturers down to end-users. If we as an industry approach the pursuit of high-quality information as a joint effort, we will all see the positive results much sooner than if we go it alone.