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What Will Manufacturers Demand As They Comply With IDEA Standards?

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

Are the tables about to turn now that more manufacturers are becoming compliant with the new IDEA Data Certification Program?

I’m not sure if you caught this last week, but IDEA has announced that 25% of the data in its data warehouse is now compliant with the Data Certification Program.  The number of items now compliant with the system has reached 600,000.

In the past, I have been a little rough on manufacturers, as a way to get them to fill out the 43 needed data fields for their new products.  After the data is completed, you can pick out the items you carry, use that on your websites and begin competing with the online giants and their e-commerce strategies.  Now it looks like more manufacturers are doing the necessary work to make your online efforts stronger.

Except…

That data is quickly getting ahead of the websites of distributors.  And now it’s up to distributors to update their websites.

“In order to take advantage of high quality data provided by, you need to ensure that distributor product data file is clean and matches the manufacturers data,” says Denise Keating, President of DATAgility. “It’s hard to use great data from manufacturers if the data within the distributor website hasn’t been recently and isn’t routinely cleansed to keep current and in sync. If you think about the data in distributor systems – a lot of data has been manually input into the system over the years, while much data entry is automated today between partners.”

Keating points out that while this problem is not deliberate, it does bring up a “red flag” that there is a huge gap between the data manufacturers are now providing and what is being used on distributor websites.

“It can result in carrying costly duplicated inventory and can impact negotiated price points,” Keating adds. “Mergers and acquisitions have happened with manufacturers and distributors. Products become obsolete, new products are introduced. Most manufacturers don’t know if the distributor really is current with their product data and that product data matches.”

As we have reported here at tED magazine and tedmag.com, Keating points to the warning signs that exist in today’s world of distribution.  “A number of successful market places that are serving customers who are doing business on-line today: Grainger, MSC, Zoro, Staples, Ace Hardware, LOWE’s, Home Depot, Amazon Business. This is going direct to contractors by manufacturers, manufacturers direct to alternate marketplaces. These companies are all taking a piece of the pie from traditional distributors,” Keating says.

While you may not be seeing a huge impact of e-commerce on your bottom line right now, the fact is contractors are changing their behavior, including bringing their personal buying habits, which are online, into their B2B lives.  Two factors are at play here, that are probably slowing down our efforts to expand our e-commerce programs.  One, the online sales numbers are still low.  But that is going to change, and the last thing you want to do is be the last one to have a solid e-commerce strategy in place because by then, your customers will be online shopping somewhere else.  And second, this is not the time to let lack of knowledge about an e-commerce strategy, or the unwillingness to invest in one, hold you back.  If you need help with your strategy, talk with your younger employees about what they like about the e-commerce sites they use.  And the economy is still strong right now, so it’s in your best interest to make that investment now, instead of risking an economic dip and your inability to invest in the future.

“It isn’t any one thing by any one party that will keep this channel thriving into the future. It’s innovative collaboration between all partners in the supply chain that compels them to take action together,” Keating says. “Execute TODAY, not tomorrow.”

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