If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Anyway

SEMA News—May 2017


By Craig Schmutzler

If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Anyway

Last month, I mentioned the SEMA Data Co-op’s (SDC) “If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway” philosophy. This month, I would like to expand on that a bit.

I bought my first motorcycle when I was 18 years old. It was a smaller Yamaha sport bike that felt fast and brought out the hooligan in me.

After riding it for a few months, I took it in for a check-up, just to make sure it was safe. I was surprised to learn that the carbs were full of gunk and needed cleaning and tuning. I thought the bike was running just fine, but I took the shop at their word and let them do the work. As it turned out, my bike had not been running fine; my perception of fast was just plain wrong. The carburetor work turned my machine into a beast that had to be restrained to keep the front wheel down in first and second gear.

Time and again we see manufacturers who are satisfied with a broken or under-performing machine. “The data has always been fine. Why change it?”

Customers aren’t satisfied with fine. They demand excellence. They make both brand and distribution decisions based on data quality and completeness. You may believe that your data is fine; however, that perception may be just plain wrong. Retailers want a beast of a machine that will produce sales results and so should you.

Your Data Requires Maintenance

When troubleshooting an engine that runs poorly, the first three things we check are fuel, air and spark. My bike ran poorly because of a fueling issue. The carbs were dirty and out of sync, so gas was not delivered properly for effective and efficient performance.

There are also three important requirements for good data: complete product descriptions, current fitment and an abundance of digital assets.

Fuel the Engine With PIES Data

PIES data contains the attributes needed to describe a product. There are more than 300 fields available in PIES. These fields include brand identification, product descriptions, weights, dimensions
and pricing.

The more fields you can populate with meaningful data, the easier it is to sell your product against competitors. The biggest concern we see in this area is a lack of good information. A manufacturer may provide basic information, like brand and a short description, but may not provide a good long description or a worthwhile list of features and benefits.

PIES data might well be considered the primary fuel in your data engine and many of the engines we see are running too lean.

Help the Engine Breathe With ACES Data

ACES data provides the information required for proper product fitment. This content drives year/make/model product searches and lookups. Fitment data must be accurate and current. While accuracy is typically not a problem for manufacturers, we frequently see delays in the publication of new applications. This is frustrating for retailers and consumers.

If PIES is the fuel, ACES is the air. The proper amount of fitment data must be present to provide for effective data consumption. Remember, engines run best with fresh air, so be sure to keep your fitment data current and complete.

Digital Assets Are the Spark That Brings Your Data to Life

Digital assets are becoming ever more valuable to consumers and retailers. While it is important to ensure that descriptions are complete and features and benefits are clear, you can’t have too many images and videos. Consumers want to see multiple product images and increasingly demand well-produced video content. Unfortunately, we often see nothing more than a single primary image and a logo attached to a part number. This simply is
not enough.

Digital assets are the spark that creates that vital visual explosion that brings everything together for an impressive and productive product presentation. A weak spark will lead to weak sales.

PIES, ACES and digital assets: All three elements must be present, in the proper amounts for maximum selling power. Still don’t think your machine is broken? We would love to take a look and let you know if any cleaning or tuning is required. You might be surprised to find that there is still some beast to be unleashed in your data. 

To learn more about how you can take control and manage your product data at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Membership Manager Allen Horwitz via email at allenh@semadatacoop.org or by phone at 888-958-6698, ext. 9.
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