Frequently Asked Questions
Every day we get questions and comments from participants, curious observers and skeptics alike about the SEMA Data Co-op. They range from those that are currently active in managing their data, to folks who are just realizing that product data management is fast becoming a requirement to do business in today’s marketplace. Here, we are going to address a few of the most commonly asked questions in an attempt to clear away some of the fog surrounding this important, game-changing effort. As always, we are happy to talk one-on-one with anyone interested in learning more about the SDC. Contact us for more information!
- I’m a supplier who wants to take control of my product data, but we don’t know where to start. How can the SDC help us get on the right path?
- I am already having my data managed through a third party provider. Why do I need the SDC?
- What is the cost to Suppliers now that the production system is live?
- I don’t have a data expert on staff and know nothing about ACES and PIES. How will I be able to manage these complex data standards?
- What is the purpose of the SEMA Data Co-op?
- How will the SDC benefit the various types of SEMA-member businesses, including manufacturers, warehouse distributors and jobber/retailers?
- Some businesses may be hesitant to use the SDC at first. What should they understand about how their proprietary information will be safeguarded?
- Is there anything member companies can do to enhance their participation in the SEMA Data Co-op?
- If there is one thing that members should understand about the SDC, what would it be?
- I know SDC offers GTIN's. What about bar codes?
Q: I’m a supplier who wants to take control of my product data, but we don’t know where to start. How can the SDC help us get on the right path?
The SEMA Data Co-op is as much about education and training as it is actually managing data. Our full time help desk is dedicated to teaching the process from whatever level the customer needs, beginning with an introductory session to identify the current state of your data. We then walk you through a process to gather key data points from your existing systems and create a standards compliant version to build on. This process will require some time investment on your part, but will lead to a lifetime of benefit as you take ownership of this critical business element.
An important part of the Co-op is the data repository where all data is stored. Our goal is to create a centralized place for all industry data to securely reside, providing a one-stop resource for receivers (customers) of all kinds. We are already establishing valuable receiver relationships, and we will provide unlimited data exports in standard PIES/ACES formats or custom exports specific to the receiver’s needs, with only a small annual membership fee. This repository relieves you from creating and exporting data in countless formats, and enables you to manage who gets your data though a custom online interface. We welcome data feeds from your third party service, provided they meet SDC requirements for completeness and they pass our validation tests.
As a non-profit association, SEMA is ideally suited to provide quality education, the latest technology and expert services at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, we are anticipating a total cost to suppliers for all on-boarding, data validation, secure storage and unlimited data exports to range from $300 – $600 per month depending on the amount of storage space required. This will enable all companies regardless of size to benefit from the most state of the art data facility and services while taking control and complete ownership of this valuable business asset.
Q: I don’t have a data expert on staff and know nothing about ACES and PIES. How will I be able to manage these complex data standards?
A data expert is not required with the Co-op, but you will likely find that as you engage with the SDC, you will want to assign responsibility for your data files to a trusted employee. Our help desk will work with that individual to gather your data in whatever format you have (even a simple spreadsheet), and we will use our tools to begin the process of making your data compliant with the standards. As we identify missing or inaccurate data, we will work with your contact to fill in the blanks, correct errors, and prepare your new standards compliant data for export to your customers.
For information about the Co-op and how to join, visit www.SEMAdatacoop.org or call Allen Horwitz at 1-888-958-6698 ext.9
The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) is a technology and service initiative created for the benefit of SEMA member companies, with the mission of encouraging and enabling the development, safe storage and universal export of industry product data. The SDC, through the development and operation of key business tools and processes, now enables any manufacturer to take control of their product data, maintain its compliance to standards, and provide a seamless means to distribute that data to approved data receivers of their choice in the most affordable way possible.
Q: How will the SDC benefit the various types of SEMA-member businesses, including manufacturers, warehouse distributors and jobber/retailers?
As an Association dedicated to creating valuable member services, SEMA is uniquely positioned to invest in this difficult and far-reaching project. There is little question that the idea of a centralized repository for clean, rich product data has become more and more important as business technology advances, and it is the opinion of SEMA’s leadership that data to power business systems should be openly available, owned by the supplier (manufacturer) and be affordable for any SEMA business to participate in. That’s why our model includes SEMA funding of the complete construction and ongoing development of the SDC systems. The end result is a one-stop source for standardized product data at a very affordable cost to the supplier, and at little or no cost to all approved receivers. This will allow all participants in the sales channel to have product data available for their internal business systems, web applications, inventory control and any other data driven business needs in the most affordable way possible.
Q: Some businesses may be hesitant to use the SDC at first. What should they understand about how their proprietary information will be safeguarded?
The answer is simple. The SEMA Data Co-op was built with the tightest security precautions and product data is accessible only by receivers that are approved by the data owner (supplier). As part of the standard functionality, permissions-based rules dictate not only who can access data, but very specifically what they can access. Security should not be a concern for any participant.
Our best advice on that front is to get involved early! We have considerable capacity to help bring suppliers into the process, and a fully staffed help desk is on call now to assist in any way. This is important…don’t wait because you think you don’t know enough about product data and how to gather or manage it. That’s what we are here for! One of the primary objectives of the SDC is to provide an “on-ramp” for businesses of any size and level of expertise, so there are no roadblocks or reasons to delay this very important process.
The SEMA Data Co-op is a service directive created and funded by SEMA for the benefit of the industry, so please use it! It is open to all suppliers and receivers, and our goal is to create the most comprehensive and affordable industry data repository possible. If you have been waiting for a solution because of concerns about the expertise required, the expense or you are just plain intimidated by the whole data thing…now is the time to get started! If you already have your data in order, then feed it to us!
As the SDC is an authorized reseller of product GTIN’s, many times we are asked about their relation to barcodes, as you might find on a package. To help distinguish the two, please note that the barcode is an optical, machine-readable, representation of data, represented by the graphic bars, and the GTIN is the number beneath the bars. You can assign a GTIN randomly to your part numbers, and when a retailer exports your product information from the SDC, they can load the GTIN into their internal system (along with the rest of your product information). This allows them to scan your products into inventory, and at the point-of-sale for immediate reliving of inventory, and reorder tracking.
While the GTIN is simply a number, there are many solutions for creating the graphic bars. You can purchase a barcode printer, with the conversion software to create the necessary artwork allowing you to print barcodes as needed, or check with your packaging printer. They may be able to create the barcodes for you, and provide finished packaging with the barcode – easy for you, and great for your customers! There are also some freeware solutions on the web, and entering a phase like “barcode generator” or “barcode printer” in your browser will provide the top results.