ThomasNet Study Reveals Manufacturer-Distributor Disconnect is Real, Important and Costly

New York, NY — Manufacturers and distributors count on each other to support and grow their sales.

As long as the monthly numbers are in line with expectations, no-one questions how the relationship is going. But what the figures don’t reveal are the sales that don’t happen because of a breakdown — a critical disconnect — in the product data flow between manufacturers and distributors.

Recently, a study was completed on behalf of Thomas’ Enterprise Solutions to provide a more detailed understanding of the problem and its impact. The research confirmed that the disconnect runs deep and costs manufacturers and distributors thousands of dollars every year in unnecessary labor, not to mention lost sales. Underneath it all is a smoldering frustration that negatively impacts partner relationships.

“Too many manufacturers are resigning themselves to the status quo, and this is undermining their sales and their distributor relationships,” said Michael Sprague, Director, eBusiness Development, Thomas Enterprise Solutions. “Ignoring the problem is tantamount to not manufacturing certain products at all. Distributors simply don’t have the resources to add or re-format product data and get it into their sales systems, and that means their customers never see it.”

The major issue leading to the disconnect is that manufacturers’ and distributors’ data file formats are not synergistic, leading to unnecessary work and follow-up communications. This adds to the burden manufacturers are experiencing just to keep their product data up-to-date. Manufacturers’ employees are spending up to 16 hours per week manually entering and refreshing information in their own systems and distributors’ templates, and it’s still not complete or formatted correctly. As a result, vital pieces of product data ulti¬mately “slip through the cracks.”

On the distributors’ side, employees are spending up to ten hours per week manually reformatting/scrubbing product data, as well as going back to manufacturers to request missing information. Because of the additional effort involved, distributors are frequently forced to upload the data they have, and let the rest go, without telling the manufacturers. If getting the data becomes too much of a challenge, it affects whether these manufacturers will remain “preferred suppliers.”

Manufacturers and distributors alike agree on the need for both a standard format for sharing product data and a way to automate the process. To remedy this widespread challenge, Thomas’ Enterprise Solutions introduced its Product Data Syndication service. The group’s team of engineers works hand-in-hand with manufacturers to develop a master set of product data and get it into any format that their distributors require. For information on Product Data Syndication, contact at Mr. Sprague .

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