Success Story | Graybar Electric

Graybar Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Reynolds Jr., and NEMA Chairman Tim Powers, Hubbell Inc., recently sat down to share their thoughts with electroindustry

What is the impact of IDEA?

If we all agree that business efficiency and a lean supply chain are key ingredients to increased profitability combined with speed and convenience, the entire channel will reap the benefits.

IDEA's Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) provides manufacturers the most efficient means to deliver one version of the truth—accurate, timely and current business data that meets the needs of their distributor trading partners through one single portal.

Graybar Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Reynolds Jr., and NEMA Chairman Tim Powers, Hubbell Inc., recently sat down to share their thoughts with electroindustry.

ei: Why is the Industry Data Warehouse so important to Graybar's business?

RR: If Graybar and the entire distribution channel are to drive up sales and efficiency while driving down supply chain costs, it is imperative that every one of our mutual suppliers participates in the Industry Data Warehouse program. IDW is the fastest and most cost effective way to deliver the specific product and pricing information distributors need to sell more of our manufacturers' products.

ei: That makes sense. Tim, what would you tell the industry about the IDW?

TP: Both manufacturers and distributors are responsible for driving the adoption and use of the IDW service. Manufacturers will not do the work if their distributors are not pulling the data out and vice versa. Distributors will not participate unless manufacturers provide information.

ei: It appears to be an elegant solution for the industry. Does it give the data an immediacy heretofore impossible?

RR: Distributors need immediate access to manufacturers' data especially when there is a price increase or the products change. Considering the volatility of raw material prices and rising transportation costs, we cannot wait for a CD in the mail or a weekly update service. Price and product changes are dynamic and the best way to save money and plan ahead is to have access to the data as soon as it's available on a 24x7 basis.

ei: Is there anything Graybar needs to continue benefiting from this service?

RR: Greater benefits and increased sales can easily be achieved if our suppliers would provide complete product information, attributes and images. These are critical for all phases of sales and marketing. Graybar and its customers need long descriptions and searchable attributes in the IDW. If these additional data files were provided, our customers could make better business decisions, making it easier for our company to sell more products.

ei: Tim, as a manufacturer, what do you suggest?

TP: I certainly agree with Bob. Enriched data is a major necessity for distributors. Top management needs to make this a business priority and reflect that need throughout their sales and marketing teams. Most manufacturers already have this information in their possession; it's just a matter of giving it precedence. However, distributors need to request, request, and request some more. They need to stress how important this information is to their sales results.

ei: Bob, it is evident this is an important tool for the industry. What would you say to a manufacturer that is not sending data to the IDW?

RR: Manufacturers that do not participate in IDW are less efficient and are costing both themselves and their trading partners money. The manufacturer/distributor business channel would be greatly improved if we could take a daily download of certified business information right into our business system without having to make corrections or process it manually – it makes perfect business sense.

TP: The key is to think about all the efficiency and profitability that the channel is missing out on. There needs to be a community-wide manufacturer participation through the delivery of complete and timely business information – but distributors need to use the information and not rely on inefficient usage of CDs, disks and faxes provided by others.

ei: IDEA recently received "Excellent" ratings on IDW security. Shouldn't this make manufacturers more confident about supplying their Net-Price information now?

RR: Absolutely. Using IDW means being able to access our suppliers' net cost information from one location; for Graybar, the IDW is a much more secure, efficient and timely method. I don't know of any distributor who wants to process email files, CDs or other methods that require manual processes to keep up with the thousands of special pricing arrangements for each of their suppliers. Receiving net cost data directly 24x7 can reduce Graybar's invoice and P.O. discrepancies from 15 percent to 3 percent just for one vendor.

ei: As a manufacturer, can you agree with the distributor stance on this issue?

TP: For starters, IDEA did a great job of addressing their customer concerns about IDW security. Distributors thrive on net cost into stock information; therefore they should seriously consider leveraging the IDW "Excellent" security audit rating to ensure that their manufacturers supply their net pricing information to the IDW. This rating should motivate more suppliers to populate IDW and begin experiencing the benefits of participating. With specific authorizations, only the specified location receives the data. So, yes, I agree with Bob, and reiterate that distributors need to communicate their needs regarding the IDW.

ei: Bob and Tim, are there any closing comments about IDW participation that you would like the readers to take away?

RR: Besides providing the information we mentioned earlier, manufacturers need to address the quality of their business data and how significant it is to conducting error free business. Suppliers have to accept the fact that they have the primary responsibility for data quality. Data is a business asset of equal importance to the product it represents. Graybar will sell more products and aggregate savings by improving inventory management, boosting productivity through automated interactions, and reducing revenue leakage through accurate data. With distributors and manufacturers standing side by side, this industry can continue its transformation to become the leader in real-time eCommerce business practices.

TP: Think of your product information as a strategic asset that will help drive up sales. Use the IDW as the means to deliver your strategic asset to your trading partners in the most cost effective way. Your trading partners can read everything that is out there in the marketplace, but it makes more of an impression when it comes from you.

Need more info?

Customer Service:

View Latest eBusiness education and news for the electrical supply chain. Become an eBiz expert today! subscribe >