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.