You may have heard the adage “Good data in, good data out. Bad data in, bad data out.” This couldn’t be more true (and sometimes painful) in the automotive industry. Good catalog data is the heart and soul of selling auto parts online. Having worked with many distributors across the country, we’ve seen firsthand the struggle it takes to clean up and maintain a catalog of high-quality product data. Warehouse distributors (and sometimes manufacturers) often don’t have the internal resources to give the needed attention to the quality of the product data. And even if the distributor is well-equipped with a data team, manufacturers are constantly updating their product data and offerings, adding new part numbers and making old part numbers obsolete.
When we talk about “good data” there are 3 top areas that encapsulate a quality catalog.
How do we solve this issue of keeping up with the data? If internal resources are an issue, most often a 3rd part company is the best way to manage the data processing and mining that is needed. Whether a specialized freelancer is hired to help clean up your data or a 3rd party company is used, the cleanliness of your data is affecting your bottom line. If customers can’t find the products they are looking for in your catalog, there’s a chance they may find another supplier whose catalog is easier and more user-friendly to search.
Good data is directly connected to your online sales. Help your customers by keeping your data up-to-date and high quality.
FROM TRUCKPARTSANDSERVICE.COM – Brent Benbow, Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Service’s fleet service director of operations, received some diesel education in a technical school before joining the Army. In the service, he was assigned to the Army’s Old Guard, the official escort of the president of the United States and who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, among other ceremonial duties.
He served at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, spending a total of 10 years in active duty and in the reserves. “When I was in the reserves, I changed over to a mechanic,” Benbow explains. He used the GI Bill to finish his education at Indiana Tech and resumed his career in the heavy-duty industry.
By Claudio Disano, CEO Solenium Group
Success in the Automotive Aftermarket depends on having quality products offered at competitive prices, and having these products located in the right place at the right time throughout all your distribution channels. But that’s not where it ends … not by a long shot…
In order to maximize the sales of these products, the very nature of the parts and accessories business requires that the ‘data’ associated with these products must flow alongside (and slightly ahead of) the products throughout the supply chain. This ‘data’ is comprised of detailed fitment information, product specifications, part interchanges, product images and other digital assets, and much more. This ‘rich content’ is more important than ever in today’s business landscape which has increasingly become internet-search-based and E-commerce-driven.
Without ‘data’, products simply won’t sell because they won’t be ‘found’. It’s a proven fact that brands that offer complete, accurate, and timely product information far outsell competitive products that have inferior data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or late to market.
Another compelling benefit of providing superior, timely data is that it significantly reduces product returns by helping to sell the right products, the first time. The North American automotive aftermarket mandates that data must be provided in accordance with the Auto Care Association’s (ACA) standards (ACES and PIES). These standards specify how product information and fitment information is to be exchanged at every level of the supply chain. Simply put, if you’re in the auto parts and accessories business, having a Product Information Management (PIM) system that is compliant with ACA standards is a key and necessary element for your success.
PIM systems allow users to create, aggregate, enrich, and distribute product information. A PIM system is the key foundation to realizing increased sales, reducing product returns, and reducing costs while gaining operational efficiencies. The many advantages and benefits, along with the high ROI of implementing a PIM within your organization is a key strategic investment for your business.
With over 40 years of experience, Solenium Group has been a pioneer and leader in developing Automotive Aftermarket PIM systems. Today, Solenium provides the industry’s most advanced, feature-rich Product Information Management System (PIM). Solenium is trusted by companies of all types and sizes and is the chosen PIM partner for many of the world’s premier brands.
Sound Press and Solenium have partnered to maximize E-Commerce success for their clients.
Here’s a quote from Tim O’Reilly, a major founder of what is now called Open Source software since 1998. “We’re entering a new world in which data may be more important than software.” -Tim O’Reilly Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved February 17, 2023, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/tim_oreilly_219565
The whole purpose of data is really to make money. We make money by serving the customer. And we’ve all seen good and bad instances of data. Countless times as we work with Distributors on data initiatives, we’ll see for example a Manufacturer line code, part number, and then a title that is literally all caps consonants and no vowels – something like 12 PC SNGL EDG. Why? Why not add vowels?? Who knows where this has happened, BUT surely somewhere someone can do better.
With eCommerce both in B2B and B2C so critical today, having good data is more important than ever. Not only does it contribute to the Customer Experience, but it may also be one of the buying decisions. Images are important, but good titles of products and descriptions are key to motivating the buyer with confidence that you know what you’re doing. We’ve overlooked bad data in the past out of desperation to purchase a much-needed repair part, but the consumer is becoming savvier, and the options for purchasing channels online are becoming more numerous. Regardless of the platform, per Tim’s quote, if the platform seems to work but the product data seems sketchy, it’s not likely to sell.
We encourage Distributors to “own their own data” wherever possible, getting it straight from the manufacturers, but this isn’t always practical. Both for in-house people-power, time constraints, and budget constraints. So there are places to license data from. Sound Press has a multi-year partnership with WHI Solutions, an eBay company, that specializes in data and APIs for using it. We’re certified in their APIs for eComm integrations.
We recommend Distributors take time to map out a good Data strategy, in their WMS, their B2B purchasing portals, and their B2C efforts where applicable. If you need help with this, get in touch with us as we do this every day.
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Rob Boyd – Sound Press Director of Digital Marketing
Rob launched his career in digital after acquiring his Master of Science in Digital Marketing from Full Sail University. While specializing in eCommerce, having previously worked directly for eComm giants Sweetwater.com and Discountfilters.com, most recently serving as VP of Marketing for National Trade Supply (discountfilters.com), he has extensive lead generation experience as well. In particular, Rob has worked heavily in the educational space having worked with Orbis Education, Career Education Corporation, Defiance College, and Good Samaritan College. He also has served clients such as Cook Medical, Cook Pharmica, AutoPlus, Valicor, Solar is Freedom, and At Your Service Roofing. Rob was a multi-time recipient of the Inc. 500/5000 award while having ownership of revenue for discountfilters.com. When Rob and his wife Misty aren’t working from the road while traveling, they live in Indianapolis, IN, where they just celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary.