May 2022 / Vol. 27 No. 5
By Sonia Coleman, IDEA
In the past year, manufacturers have faced unprecedented changes in the marketplace, including end users demanding more digital information, fluctuating prices, supply chain challenges, labor shortages, and staff turnover. Manufacturers are feeling the pressure to raise their digital game, yet the time to aggregate product data for sharing outbound is growing exponentially.
How can manufacturers optimize and gain efficiencies with their pricing data and product content?
Control Your Product Content in the Marketplace
Let’s say your manufacturing company has developed a new product, and you want to get it in front of the customer fast.
Which scenario would result in faster penetration in the marketplace?
A. Your rep walks into the distributor and presents the literature and price book for your new product line. The distributor will need to manually add those parts to their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and eCommerce site. It could take months for your product to be available for sale, and the information could have errors.
B. Your rep walks into the distributor and presents the marketing information on the new product line. Everything that the distributor needs to set it up digitally in their system is already loaded and ready for the industry-endorsed product content platform. With the exact data you provided, your product is available to be sold the next day.
This seems like a trick question, but it’s not. The reality is that some manufacturers are still choosing manual delivery of their product and pricing information — with many one-offs — rather than syndicating through a single source, like IDEA ConnectorSM.
IDEA Connector is the electrical industry-endorsed product content platform. Supported by NEMA and National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), its mission is to facilitate the exchange of complete, high-quality transactional and eCommerce product content and serve as the standards body for the electrical industry.
“As a manufacturer, we would have to spend hours to get all the attribute and product information out to each one of our customers manually,” said Seth Gilbert, PIM Manager, Atkore Inc. “IDEA helps us bring all of our product content to each of our customers so they can use it on their eCommerce sites.”
Simplify Your Syndication
For Lutron, providing product content through a data synchronization platform enables faster updates and streamlined processes.
“Product data is the lifeblood of our industry. Every time our data changes — and we all know there’s been a lot of data changes in the last year — all we have to do is update IDEA Connector, and we’re able to reach our trading partners. We can potentially reach 90 percent of the NAED electrical distributor market share with one update,” said John Callen, Director of eTools Marketing at Lutron.
Like Standard Electric Supply, distributors need product data to drive their digital experiences.
“Over the years, as we have all started down our digital journey, we’ve grown to need more enriched data to serve our customers on our websites. As an independent company, we don’t have the resources to be able to do what an Amazon does on its own. However, IDEA allows us, as a distribution community, to pool our resources and have a product data tool that each of us individually can take advantage of to grow our businesses digitally,” said Larry Stern, president of Standard Electric Supply.
Expand Digital Assets Beyond Your Website
Another efficiency hack is making all of your digital product content available to distributors.
Distributors need access to accurate product information and pricing for manufacturer products, including basic transactional information like UPC, catalog number, invoice description, packaging, and marketing content for the website, such as images, 360 images, spec sheets, brochures, and marketing bullets.
Many manufacturers are working to ensure they provide all detailed product content directly to their distributors through IDEA Connector. IDEA Connector enables manufacturers to deliver unlimited manufacturer SKUs at no additional cost and unlimited attributes and marketing images, like 360 images.
“We want to make sure we’re providing the data that our distributors need in the way they need it,” said Breanna Roller, digital marketing manager at Southwire. “We want to make it easier to do business with Southwire. We always see that this correlates with increased revenue. We know our customers want a good purchasing experience, so we want to make that happen with our product content.”
Southwire’s investment in digital product content reaps internal cost savings also.
“We believe our digital initiative will increase our profitability as we’ll have less backend work time, fewer one-off requests and be able to streamline our process of launching new products with more complete product information,” Roller said.
Extend Your Data Team
One of the biggest challenges facing companies currently is staffing. Many manufacturers have faced turnover, retirements, and hiring challenges. Many manufacturer data teams are overwhelmed and short-handed with the increasing need for more attributes and product content.
Outsourcing data projects is becoming a popular solution for manufacturers to extend their data teams. This frees up staff for pressing internal needs, but it also enables manufacturers to make more significant progress on their digital initiatives in a shorter timeframe.
The ABB Drive Products division for the industrial and water product lines needed to revamp its digital product data in IDEA Connector, but they didn’t have the resources internally. ABB decided to tap into IDEA’s Pro Data Services team to get the job done.
“We want our distributor partners to have a consistent message and advertisement to the marketplace. After over 5000+ SKUs were updated, I had comments from distributors like, ‘Now that is a better customer experience. Hats off, ABB,’ ” said Tom Kunkel, Channel Director, Drive Products, US Motion Business, ABB Inc.
Likewise, Austin Electrical Enclosures needed to onboard their pricing and product content into IDEA Connector.
“We’ve had a hectic schedule and haven’t been able to devote the needed time for our data project. I was able to delegate this to IDEA’s Pro Data Services. They stepped in and took care of uploading all of our available product content for our distributors,” said Amanda Felts, Marketing Manager, Austin Electrical Enclosures.
As manufacturers lead the way in digital transformation, product data is critical to achieving greater efficiencies, faster market speed, and reduced costly errors and returns.
Find out more about how by downloading the free guide, “Product Content Best Practices: Recommendations for Managing Manufacturer Product Information.” ei