He With The Best Cataloging Will Win

SEMA News—August 2018

He With The Best Cataloging Will Win

By Stephanie Jones

Frost & Sullivan data shows that, specifically for aftermarket parts, 70%–80% of consumers are researching online. Studies show that consumer behavior is shifting with the desire to know more about a product before buying.

Last year at the SEMA Show, I led a presentation with a few of my colleagues held during our SEMA Data Co-op Education Day. During my portion, I presented that data will continue to be at the heart of every organization. Data drives business decisions, operational improvements and sales. As a group, we tried to drive home the fact that high-quality product data is a critical component in successfully marketing to consumers. It is the ultimate competitive differentiator.

At a webinar I attended last summer, the CEO of a large automotive organization made this prediction: “He with the best cataloging will win.”

We’ve seen the evolution of cataloging. At one time, those who were the best at printing paper catalogs with as much detail and application information that could squeeze onto a well-crafted page held a winning hand. Now, with technology driving us toward electronic cataloging, the number of page restrictions is lifted, and much more information is readily available with a click or a swipe. And electronic product data can be updated at any time; we don’t wait for next year’s paper-print cycle.

Is your data well-rounded and technically correct? Is it robust and timely? Or perhaps it’s lacking in critical areas, or maybe half-heartedly complete? I guess that could be considered a subjective question.

According to an Experian poll, 56% of businesses say bad data negatively impacts sales.

Data management is an investment requiring time, money and resources. Is it worth it? I can tell you this: Traffic patterns show that consumers look to the web to research products as part of the decision-making buying process—even when the actual purchase is in a store, not online. Studies show that consumer behavior is shifting with the desire to know everything about a product before buying.

A Frost & Sullivan study shows that, specifically for aftermarket parts, 70%–80% of consumers are researching online. Folks, consumer behavior has changed.

The way I interpret this is that a product needs a good online presence, whether you consider e-commerce a vital vertical for your product sales or not. In today’s selling landscape, we need to support, sell and service consumers, even if they are just in the research stage of the buying process. Having the right details available will impact what they’ll buy later.

Most likely, you’re heavily invested in brand recognition and driving traffic to your website. Think about what the key elements are that contribute to converting that traffic to a paid transaction. It all points toward your data, your product message.

Statistically, bad data hurts us on a couple of fronts. An Experian poll across multiple industries in 2016 found that:

  • 56% report that bad data negatively impacts sales.
  • 51% report that bad data wastes time and creates operational inefficiencies.
  • 39% say that the quality of their data is having a “diminishing affect” on customer relationships.
  • 37% report that there is a cultural impact felt within the organization—the old “right hand not talking to the left hand” scenario.

On top of bad data, there are also growing pressures in the automotive aftermarket from three sources. First is the Amazon Effect, where two-day Prime shipping has consumers expecting their product to be shipped and delivered within a day or two. Second is the Zappos Effect, where consumers expect a wrongly shipped product to be returned at no expense to them. And third, consumers have confidence in “pure play” online-only retailers that can highly specialize in just one product or product line and apply pricing pressure because they operate on a slimmer margin. With the combination of all that, we can’t afford not to invest in good data.

Consumer expectations have changed and will continue to when it comes to purchasing products. Consumers expect to learn everything about a product at their fingertips—and quickly and accurately. Let good data drive your business, because good cataloging might be your winning factor.

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