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This Week in IDEA | July 11, 2013

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IDEA Announces New IDW Bands of Excellence Rating Criteria

IDEA, with support from owners NAED and NEMA, introduced the IDW Bands of Excellence program last summer as part of a continuous effort to populate the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) with more robust marketing content. Since then, this program has been highly successful in recognizing manufacturers for excellence in providing critical marketing content to their distributor partners through the IDW. In fact, the program has resulted in more than a tenfold increase in IDW marketing content.

Accurate and timely marketing content in the IDW helps distributors differentiate and promote manufacturers’ products and fuels distributor web storefronts, changing the way buyers research and find products. With the proliferation of B2B eCommerce websites, and the associated demand from end users, NAED has asked IDEA to introduce more rigorous banding levels that are aligned with NAED’s Supplier Scorecards.

Moving forward, the Bands of Excellence rating system will provide increased visibility for those manufacturers providing the SAID elements (spec sheets, attributes, images, descriptions) for 85-100% of their stock products.

The new IDW Bands of Excellence rating metrics will be:

  • Platinum: 100% stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements
  • Gold: 95-99% stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements
  • Silver: 90-94% stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements
  • Bronze: 85-89% stock products in the IDW populated with all SAID elements

Additionally, the new banding criteria will have more stringent requirements for attribute population: each stock product must have a minimum of five attributes or 30% of available attributes populated (whichever is less). One of those attributes must be Brand, which is the name customers typically use to search for products in a web store.

Along with the SAID elements, distributors are asking for additional marketing content that enables an enhanced web experience (e.g. videos, material safety data sheets (MSDS), RoHS compliance information). Additional rigor will be added to the banding criteria as end user needs evolve.

IDEA will publically recognize the manufacturers that have achieved these new banding levels at the end of July.

Manufacturers should contact their Data Quality Analyst at IDEA for information on how to sustain their current band or improve their banding status before these updates are published.

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3 Ways Distributors Can Access Generic UPC’s through the IDW

As previously announced in this press release, IDEA purchased the license to the 98-series UPC’s to support the industry’s need for generic product UPC numbers. These numbers are available to the industry through the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) and can be added to a distributor’s business system in three different ways:

  1. Within the “non-Specific Manufacturer” dataset: This dataset provides you with ~8000 products identified with the generic UPC, along with a basic set of product information, such as catalog number and description, for each.

    To access this information, add the manufacturer labeled “non-Specific Manufacturer” to your data extracts request list in the IDW. All distributors have been pre-authorized for the “non-Specific Manufacturer” dataset, so just add this manufacturer to your extract request. This information will be available in the next manufacturer data extract you run.
  2. Within IDEA’s “Benchmark Pricing” dataset: This dataset provides you with the same generic product information as the “non-Specific Manufacturer” dataset (e.g. UPC, catalog number, description ) as well as the benchmark price for each product. The benchmark prices found in this dataset provide the general market price for each product, regardless of the manufacturer.

    To access this information, send an authorization request through the IDW for the manufacturer labeled “Benchmark Pricing.” Once authorized, add this dataset to your data extracts request list in the IDW, and it will be available in the next manufacturer data extract you run.
  3. Within the “non-Specific Manufacturer UPC” field: This SKU-level IDW field is available for manufacturers to populate just as they would any other IDW field (e.g. price group, package quantity, country of origin) when sending regular item updates to the IDW. If a manufacturer populates this new “non-Specific Manufacturer UPC” field, the unique product UPC numbers they use in their own systems can easily be cross-referenced and linked with the corresponding generic product UPC numbers used by your contractor customers in their systems. Both the manufacturer-unique UPC and the non-specific UPC can be stored in your business system simultaneously. This is the method expanded upon in the April 30th announcement “IDEA Licenses the 98-Series UPC Numbers from GS1.”

    If a manufacturer populates the “non-Specific Manufacturer UPC” field in the IDW, the information in this field will automatically appear when you extract their product data. No extra steps are required.

If you have any additional questions about how to access the generic UPC’s from the IDW, please contact your Data Quality Analyst and they will be happy to help you set up the data download that works best for you.

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New EDI Research Findings & Services

Many companies rely on electronic data interchange (EDI) to automate everyday business processes, streamline trading partner communications and reduce order errors. Aberdeen Group, a research firm dedicated to primary research studies to advise strategic business decisions, recently published a blog connecting data points from several studies that support the adoption of EDI to facilitate collaboration between organizations. The post examines the value proposition and potential benefits gained from exchanging data across enterprises. It also discusses how EDI adoption distinguishes best-in-class companies from their competitors. Read the blog post on>

However, taking on EDI initiatives internally may divert staff and resources from other mission-critical projects. IDEA offers EDI Managed Services so you can get the level of assistance you need to move more business tasks over to an EDI process without straining resources or hiring additional staff. IDEA’s EDI Managed Services is an à la carte collection of EDI-related services from which you can create a custom package to meet your unique business needs. Services include EDI mapping/translation services, managed AS2/FTP connections, and trading partner implementation. You also elect for monthly support to any EDI Managed Services package, giving you access to whatever extra consulting and technical support you need, whenever you need it.

Visit the EDI Managed Services webpage or contact Tom Guzik at to discuss your EDI needs further.

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Paul Franchini Joins the IDEA Team

Paul Franchini, formerly of Trade Power, Inc. and Activant, Inc. (currently owned by Epicor through acquisitions), has joined the IDEA team as a Data Quality Analyst. Paul will collaborate closely with manufacturers and distributors on processes that impact the quality of product data available in the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW).

Paul has 15 years of electrical industry experience with a robust background in purchasing, distribution, and software implementation from his role at Trade Power and Activant. He provided implementation consultations on the Array distribution software and on-site support for distributors. He has worked with staff from many points of the distribution business, including the counter, warehouse, back-office, management and ownership. As a senior purchasing agent, Paul also worked with manufacturers to fulfill internal and external customer needs.

He graduated with a B.S. in International Business and Minor in Human Resource Management from Bowling Green State University (OH).

Paul can be reached at or at .

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Social Media Tips and Differences for B2B and B2C Marketers

Using social media can seem tricky and difficult to incorporate into your business marketing strategy at first. However, sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can be useful social engagement tools that drive the growth of your business. They can act as an accessible conduit for you and your business to communicate directly with customers, prospects, and partners. Whether you are a B2B marketer, B2C marketer, or a combination of each, there are distinct steps you can take to successfully implement social networking tactics that can help your company build credibility and boost its competitive edge. We’ve highlighted the relevant social media marketing trends, strategies, and other essential information regarding B2B and B2C engagement below.

[Basics] B2B vs B2C Marketing using Social Media: This SlideShare presentation outlines all of the nuts and bolts of B2B and B2C marketing, including key differences between the types of businesses such as their separate needs, target audience, content, and the most effective social media strategies.

[Trends] B2C Versus B2B: The Most Important Social Media Platform: Actionable marketing expert Heidi Cohen draws from the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report and provides insight on how B2C and B2B companies are using social media in their marketing plans, top trends, and the most influential social media platforms for each industry.

Read the article on>

[Benefits] B2B vs. B2C Social Media: This infographic designed by Crossroad Public Relations breaks down social media marketing for B2B and B2C businesses by site and describes the benefits of engaging customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. It also presents revealing statistics as well as tips on social media usage.

(Click image to enlarge)

[Strategy] Social Sharing Tips for B2B and B2C: This infographic calls attention to the intricacies and nuances of social media marketing. The punctuation, word count, hashtag use, number use, and timing of your social media content can all contribute to the success or failure of your social media ventures. The infographic illustrates how businesses can leverage best practices in these areas to develop smart and detailed marketing strategies tailored to the specific needs of B2C and B2B companies.

View the article and infographic on>

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