News & Events

This Week in IDEA | January 6, 2010

Our eNewsletter, This Week in IDEA, keeps you informed with the latest news and education about IDEA, our solutions and services, and our customers and partners. IDEA’s knowledgeable staff and other contributing writers share insights, resources and special offers to help you Unleash the power of e. Subscribe now to receive This Week in IDEA in your email inbox every other Thursday and add our RSS feed to your reader.


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New IDEA IRD Customers

IDEA, a 1SYNC Data Pool On-Board Solution (OBS) partner, implements suppliers that subscribe to the 1SYNC data pool using IDEA's IRD CERICOMX® application. IDEA was recently assigned 48 suppliers:

These companies will be trained to use IRD CERICOMX®, an IDEA branded product for supporting and uploading supplier product information into the GS1 Registry® and GDSN via the 1SYNC Data Pool.

If you would like to find out more about the CERICOMX® product, please contact your account manager.

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2009 Year in Review: Industry Pushes Forward Through Economic Slowdown

IDEA used 2009 as an opportunity to position our customers for success in the upturn many economists are predicting for 2010. Throughout the year we have implemented industry-inspired solutions, enhancements and service offerings that revolutionize the way trading partners communicate and do business. Below are just a few of the many initiatives accomplished as a result of your suggestions and feedback. We learn from you every day and are appreciative of your support and confidence.

Data Sync Platform enhancements drive efficiency

  • Released the Utilities Workstation, a new data editing tool within IDW that gives manufacturers the capability to quickly search and edit product data or correct minor data entry errors on-the-spot
  • Introduced a simplified authorization process in IDW for manufacturers and distributors to improve ease of use and jump start new eCommerce relationships
  • Added flexible item-level product flags in IDW to quickly respond to industry-wide needs for product status information (Flag 1 was defined as ARRA Eligible)
  • Enhanced capacity to integrate new product data into IDW faster to proactively meet the needs of our distributor customers
  • Added UNSPSC codes to IDW product data thanks to a tremendous collaborative effort by manufacturers and IDEA service partners
    • UNSPSC codes offer a single global classification system that can be used for: company-wide visibility of spend analysis, cost-effective procurement optimization, and full exploitation of eCommerce capabilities including the Electrical Product Attribute Schema
  • 270 new suppliers set up as IRD customers to synchronize and distribute product data to resellers via the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)
  • Successful roll-out of IRD CERICOMX ® product version 6.4
    • Enhancements increased speed of synchronization process and time-to-market for new product catalogs

Standards Committee makes history

Business Services department forms in response to customer feedback and desire for additional value-add services and solutions

  • Visited over 35 customers to better understand needs and concerns
  • Integrated and consolidated all account management staff to one department, teamed with product specialists, to be the single point of contact for customers, improve response time and provide value-add services
  • Created IDEA Professional services and developed new offerings in response to customer requirements

New education and training resources add value to IDEA’s solutions

  • Upgraded the IDEA Customer Portal to improve search and navigation capabilities, real-time customizable news and expanded contact information
  • Released new IDW eLearning training module, “Navigating through the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW)” to provide an overview of IDEA’s Data Synchronization Platform and walk customers through the most frequently used screens and features in IDW
    • Four additional eLearning modules are expected to be added to the Portal by February 2010 including topics such as the IDX Tracker, the Electrical Attribute Product Schema, net price synchronization, and synchronizing data using the IRD CERICOMX application
  • Published numerous documents to promote marketing products through the IDW Data Synchronization Platform and explaining step-by-step processes to enhance user experience
  • Mentioned or covered in over 85 trade news articles (print & web)    

Community outreach and going green

  • Focused on paper reduction through a tremendous increase in electronic payments, receipts and invoicing
  • Increased organizational involvement in community programs and charities

New direction for a new decade

IDEA is your business partner. We’re here to optimize the tremendous potential of eCommerce – streamlining your business and making it more competitive and profitable. IDEA is, and always will be ready to help the industry Unleash the power of e in 2010 and beyond.

Tags for this post: idw customers news idx standards data synchronization ird training b2b ecommerce electrical industry

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IDEA’s on the Move in 2010 – First Stop, the NAED Western

As you finalize travel plans for 2010, don’t forget to keep IDEA on your radar. Our staff will be roaming industry events and will host the IDEA E-Biz Forum 2010 in Dallas, TX, September 20-22, 2010. The next event, NAED Western, is next week and you are invited to attend IDEA’s educational sessions.

Bob Gaylord, IDEA president and CEO, and Mary Shaw, IDEA Standards Director, will be presenting the latest update on the Electrical Industry Attribute Schema and how you can use standardized marketing data to sell more products. This session will give you insight to the benefits of providing more robust product information to your customers, enabling them to more efficiently and effectively sell or buy your products. Here are the details:

Where: NAED Western Regional Conference; San Diego Marriott, San Diego, CA
When: Wednesday, January 13, 1:45 – 2:45 p.m. AND Thursday, January 14, 10:15 – 11:45 a.m. (REPEAT SESSION)
Session Title: Driving Profitability with Quality Marketing Data
Session Description: Get an inside look at how clearly defined product descriptors can help both manufacturers and distributors sell more products. There is enormous demand for this information as businesses fine tune their sales, marketing and support processes to leverage the internet and search technology. This session will give you insights on how enhanced marketing data can improve your competitive position and increase your sales and profit potential, every time, all the time. Whether you are a manufacturer or distributor, this is a must attend session if you want to protect or increase your market strengths.

View more 2010 events 

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Spotlight Article: Building a Web-Based Storefront

By Kevin Roach, Executive Vice President, Activant Solutions Inc.

You’ve decided you want to offer your customers the convenience of an integrated Web-based storefront. All you need to do is select who will build and host your new site. While this may seem like a simple decision, in reality it is as important as choosing your enterprise software solution.

Why You Need a Professional

When it comes time to hire someone to create your Web site, think carefully. These days, it seems like everyone knows someone who can design an attractive Web page. But, as they say, looks can be deceiving. Unless the technology behind the design can provide you with all the functionality – and security – you want to offer your customers, you could be headed for trouble.

Your Web site is an outward extension of your organization and part of your business system. A well thought out interface and integration to your back end business system is essential. Anything less could not only chase customers away from your site, but your business entirely. Choose a designer that knows your business as well as distribution in general, and has the ability to develop the functionality that gives your customers the information they need in an expedient and secure manner.

Make sure whoever you choose to develop your site will be there for you as your business changes. Successful Web sites are not static. You must refresh the content as you expand product lines, update pricing, etc. The relationship you have with your Web site developer will need to last as long as you plan to offer the site. You want a partner who views your site as more than a hobby or side job. You want a dedicated professional with a vested interest in the success of your site.

Deciding What Goes Online

You know you want to offer your customers online access to your product catalog, but what else? A well-planned Web site can do a lot more for your business than you might initially expect.

Think about how much time your customer service representatives spend on the phone answering customers’ questions. Customers want to know the status of orders, the amount of their last invoice, what they ordered six months ago, and so much more. By providing this information online, in a secure setting, you can free your staff to focus on developing new business and allow your customers to save time by eliminating having to make phone calls for information they now have at their fingertips.

Your customers will also benefit from being able to create favorites lists, search by several different criteria, and receive suggestions for go-together items for products they add to their shopping cart.

Also, customers with special pricing programs with you will expect to get that same pricing whether they logon to your site or call your sales reps. If you only post standardized pricing on your Web site, customers who get price breaks won’t want to use it.


To offer your customers an effective Web site, you need one that is fully integrated with your enterprise software solution.

The reason is simple: At minimum, you want a site that enables your customers to place orders online. Unless your Web site is tied directly to your inventory management solution, your customers won’t be able to trust that you actually have in stock what your site says you do. After getting burned enough times, they are going to stop using your site and go back to calling in for service.

If you take the next step and offer customers account information online, that information has to be real-time. Customers making business decisions based on the data you provide online expect that information to be in real time. Out-of-date invoices or order status records will cause confusion and frustration.

Of course, you could offer all of this without integrating your Web site with your enterprise software solution, but then you will need to commit additional staff and resources to constantly re-key information and update your Web site. Not only is this time-consuming, but it also leads to costly errors from accidental typos. In essence you would be offering a glorified fax machine.


In addition to choosing someone to develop your Web site, you also need to choose a technology provider to host it.

Don’t assume all Web hosting services are the same. Many cannot guarantee backup support if your site goes down. You want a host who will be there for you the same amount of time your site is open to your customers: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ideally, your design firm and host company should be one and the same. This ensures that your Web site is designed to the correct technology specifications. Also, any upgrades to the technology will not interfere with the functionality of your site.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Just because you build a Web site, doesn’t mean your customers will flock to it. You’re giving them a new tool to do business with you and they need to learn how to use it to their advantage.

The most effective introductions of Web-based storefronts employ an inside-out strategy. Start by searching your employees the value the Web site can bring to customers. Encourage them to spread the word and invite customers to visit the site.

If you have a front counter, hold an open house for your customers to come in and see live demonstrations of your site. Have your remote salespeople demo the site at customers’ locations and your service representatives incorporate mentioning the site into their phone conversations with customers.

When it comes to educating your customers, take the time to explain and demonstrate the value the site provides. Show your customers that your Web-based storefront is another value-added service you provide.

To encourage use, give special discounts to customers who place orders via your Web site or offer higher commissions to salespeople whose regular customers use the site to check invoices.

Keep the URL in front of customers. Make sure to include it on all printed documents – including letters, invoices, and purchase orders. Post fliers in your pick up area and use mail, fax, and e-mail campaigns to promote the site.

Most of all, don’t forget to include the URL in all of your traditional marketing campaigns. Your Web site is an extension of your business and should be featured as a value-added service only you can provide.

The benefits a well-built Web site can bring your business are many, not the least of which are increased sales, expanded geographic reach, and improved customer service.

Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general management of Activant Solutions Inc., is an expert on wholesale distribution. Find out more at;; 1-, press 1.

About Activant:

Activant Solutions Inc. is a leading technology provider of business management solutions serving distributors and SMB retailers. Activant provides customers with industry-specific software, professional services, content, supply chain connectivity, and analytics.

Over 30,000 customer locations use Activant products to manage their day-to-day operations. Activant's systems are designed to help customers increase sales, boost productivity, operate more cost-efficiently, improve inventory turns and enhance trading partner relationships. Headquartered in Livermore, California, Activant has operations in Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. For more information, please visit  

Get more education from Activant:

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January Training Opportunities: Get Updated Info on UNSPSC Training and Assistance

This month IDEA continues to offer training sessions for customers online. A new UNSPSC and Utilities Workstation training will be available to manufacturers in addition to IDW and IDX training sessions.

UPDATED! UNSPSC Training Information    

The December 31st deadline to populate the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC) for all products in IDW has come and gone. Congratulations to all of the manufacturers and service providers that worked so hard to meet the deadline! The attention to detail and dedication that was demonstrated will bring significant benefits to everyone involved. The population of these standardized category codes is essential for the industry to begin utilizing and benefiting from the first Electrical Attribute Schema. Training will continually be offered to IDEA customers so that these codes can be appropriately maintained and utilized in the future.

Download the UNSPSC Service Document to find out how we can help you develop a custom assistance program for your company.

Contact your IDEA account manager or email to sign up this month.

IDW Utilities Workstation Training

The recently released Utilities Workstation is available to all manufacturer users of IDW at no additional cost and the step-by-step user guide is located on the IDEA Portal under Training > IDW > User Guides. Our product experts can help you start using this time-saving editing and error correction tool during these training dates:

  • Thursday, January 14: 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM EST
  • Thursday, January 21: 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM EST

Individual and group training sessions can be scheduled by contacting , Manager Data Synchronization Platform at .

On-Demand IDW Training

IDEA offers on-demand one-on-one IDW training sessions. The trainings are divided into two parts for manufacturers and distributors. Part one reviews the essential business elements of IDW and part two dives deeper into the application. These trainings will cover all the new IDW features that were revealed at the Forum. Niche training (e.g. net price, inbound mapping, etc.) is also available upon request.

Customers interested in scheduling an IDW one-on-one training session should contact , Data Sync Platform (DSP) Support Manager, at .

IDX Tracker Training Schedule

  • Tuesday, January 05: 1:30-2:30PM
  • Tuesday, January 12: 1:30-2:30PM
  • Tuesday, January 19: 1:30-2:30PM
  • Tuesday, January 26: 1:30-2:30PM

Times don’t work for your schedule? Contact our flexible IDX training expert, Supriya Reddy at to schedule a one-on-one training at a time that works for you.

Tags for this post: idw unspsc idx training utilities workstation

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