Manufacturers make the case for EDATA

Why and how Manufacturers are using EDATA to share high quality product data with multiple Wholesalers

Thousands of Product Data Sheets for Wholesalers' contractor customers
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EDATA: Manufacturers share their product data journey

Martin Russell
Group Product Manager
Marshall-Tufflex Ltd
Joined the EDATA data pool:1 August 2020

Why is taking control of your product data so important to your business?

As a manufacturer with a heritage dating back 80 years,  we had legacy data in a variety of different formats and within a number of different systems which we needed to utilise and review

Secondly, and more importantly, we want to be able to service customer needs for data in a swift and economical manner allowing Marshall-Tufflex to be easy to deal with. Our wholesaler customers are increasingly turning to online platforms and we want to be able to onboard those customers quickly and easily, which hopefully means they sell more of our products.

When we have a new wholesaler customer we now have a flow of product information that we can readily share.

What have been the major challenges?

Our data was spread across a number of different departments – engineering, commercial, packaging and so on – so the main challenge was to consolidate it into one place.

At the start we thought “Where do we start?” and at times it did feel overwhelming. What really helped was to have the support of Richard and Javier because they worked with us to break the project down into manageable sections.

Getting to grips with the ETIM standard for technical product information was also challenging. We didn’t know which ETIM groups to use, some are very specific, but we had valuable guidance from the EDA team steering us in the right direction. ETIM forced us to think hard about what technical data is important for our wholesalers and their contractor customers to see. ETIM is also important in the drive for data consistency: contractors need to be able to compare one product with another so they can make the choice – comparing apples with apples if you like. Without that consistent technical data it would be hard for them to make accurate comparisons.

In hindsight, I think just striving for Gold Standard Data in EDATA isn’t the best approach. It was our internal goal – a vision to go live in EDATA at Gold – but given what I know now, I’d encourage manufacturers to aim for Bronze, then Silver, and then Gold because there are some quick wins you can achieve as you work through those levels. Most manufacturers could probably be Bronze for most products fairly easily and that’s worth doing because it gives you brand visibility in EDATA.

And of course, Gold data isn’t perfect, it just means better than average. Data isn’t ever perfect, there is always something more to do.

I have to say that the support we’ve had from the EDATA team has been excellent. I’ve worked in this sector for some years and am pretty experienced but there are some real golden nuggets of information which I’ve picked up during this process which I hadn’t thought about, but in the end made all the difference.

What have been the benefits of being in EDATA?

The fact that EDATA is led by the EDA is important – the data pool is there to serve wholesalers.

When wholesalers ask us for product information we direct them to EDATA: it streamlines the process for all parties, they get quick access to our latest product information, and we can be more efficient because we’re not fielding off-line requests all the time. Everyone wins.

Where would you like to see EDATA going in the future?

The opportunity to include sustainability data, embodied carbon and recycling data is becoming more important. Our wholesaler customers are asking for this more and more.

Another progression would be integration with other systems and the opportunity for product data consolidation – ultimately it’s all digital data and if that could be streamlined it would be fantastic.

We are also looking forward to seeing more wholesalers making use of the EDATA system and taking advantage of up-to-date manufacturer data available.

Marshall-Tufflex Ltd
Stuart Swalwell, Managing Director
and David Allport, Commercial Manager
Cembre Ltd

Why is taking control of your product data so important to your business?

It was at one of the EDA’s Digitalisation Forums that it hit home: how do we differentiate ourselves against our competition? The answer is to have the best quality product information available. Once manufacturers have got their data in a standard format, it will serve a multitude of purposes: bids and tenders, wholesalers’ ERP systems, and web shops. It is the type of data we get asked for all the time so it made so much sense to make it available centrally via EDATA.

What have been the major challenges?

Resource and time were the two challenging issues. Plus we had product data in the business, just not in one place. Some of it was in systems but other information was still in people’s heads so the challenge was getting it down in one place.

Our marketing and data team in the UK is small, but we recognised that product data was becoming much more important and decided to recruit. The extra person has made it much easier and we’ve made great progress. We’ve got a wide product range with a structured product hierarchy in Cembre, which has made the process relatively simple for anyone new to get their head around what we do.

What have been the benefits of being in EDATA?

EDATA has been a great way to raise our profile and be able to say that we have reached Gold Standard – we are very proud of that!

As a manufacturer this sets us apart and the fact that we make our technical data easy for wholesalers to access gives them confidence in our brand and our products.

We have around 600 of our core products inside EDATA at the moment but we have a huge product portfolio and there will be between 1,000 – 2,000 additional products going into EDATA shortly.

What are the benefits of a data standard such as EDATA?

Contractors need to be able to compare one product with another, or one data set with another – in other words comparing apples with apples.

We are very confident in our products’ technical compliance, so ETIM is great for the contractor or end user.

EDATA’s focus is very much on quality with the introduction of EDATA quality standards and the Going for Gold workshops. In what ways have these helped you with your product data?

From day one, Richard Appleton and Javier Garcia have been a great help and are very clear on where we should put our product data efforts.

Some things can just catch you out, so it has been very helpful to share data with the EDATA team and ask “Is this right?” Javier will come back with options and really understands the issues. At the end of the day it is our data but to have someone at the end of the phone that can help guide us when we really need the support has been fantastic. Also, we’ve just recently gone through a product data review with Javier which has been helpful.

Often manufacturers have got the product data but they just don’t know how to exploit it. Any producer of products will have access to some product data and our advice would be to take a leap of faith: EDATA is a wake-up call and getting involved will help your internal process too.

Where would you like to see EDATA going in the future?

It’s got to be sustainability information and waste packing, plus weights and measures.

Cembre is an Affiliated Member of the EDA