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DDS and Trimble Join Forces
to Offer Synchronized Data
for E-Commerce
and ERP Systems


The demand for accurate, enriched, and standardized product content is only increasing as the electrical industry moves to become more digital.

To meet this demand, IMARK Electrical Member Service Providers Trimble and Distributor Data Solutions (DDS) have partnered to expand the delivery of product data solutions to distributors, manufacturers and contractors for the industry.

Trimble has a strong foundation of managing product content for its customers, and in combining this history with DDS’ unique capabilities and industry expertise in product data syndication, a new industry solution has emerged. “Together, we’re focused on streamlining the syndication of manufacturer product data and simplifying the process of obtaining and enriching e-commerce data for distributors,” said Andrew Carlson, chief marketing officer at DDS.

With this partnership, DDS and Trimble together serve more than 60% of the electrical, mechanical, plumbing and HVAC commercial distributor market in the United States.

IMARK Electrical Now interviewed Carlson and James Reis, general manager, supply chain, at Trimble about the partnership, product content and product data syndication.

Please define the term product syndication. What are some of the most common syndication offerings available to manufacturers as well as key benefits?

Manufacturers are going to market through multiple channels and have made significant investments in producing rich, complete product content to fuel their digital efforts and e-commerce growth. The process of delivering this information to their channel partners is called product content syndication.

The primary goal of product content syndication is to deliver the manufacturer’s product portfolio with complete, up-to-date, rich product information to their entire channel through a single source, ultimately providing the end customer with the ability to easily find, select and buy the right product.

What are some ways that inadequate or poor-quality data can negatively impact a company’s sales prospects?

In our experience, having incomplete, inadequate or incorrect product data can severely limit the performance of that product and your overall brand online and across all channels. A few examples of the most common impacts in the channel:

  • Customers can only find what is there to be found. This sounds obvious when written down but still needs to be said. Site search engines need rich, complete product data to match search terms with appropriate search results. Products with rich, complete, consistent data are going to be presented far more frequently and near the top of the search results on a distributor website.
  • Limited product data can disqualify your products from inclusion in digital marketing campaigns through platforms like Google Shopping or Performance Max. Digital marketing managers will often remove products from consideration if the lack of consistent and complete data puts the performance of their campaigns and campaign budget at risk.
  • Insufficient or inaccurate images can prevent your products from being presented in search results or in a product category. Many users believe that there are issues with a website when images aren’t displayed, which causes them to lose trust in the site. As a result, many merchandisers and site owners will completely suppress or force products without images to the bottom of the category or search result set.
Many distributors feature data for a relatively small percentage of SKUs (top sellers) that they keep in stock. What are some arguments for including a higher number of SKUs in the e-commerce catalog?

We frequently see DDS network subscribers adding more of their in-stock SKUs to their website, as well as increasing the total number of SKUs they offer.

The e-commerce site is now the source of truth for most customers. It is very difficult for them to know that a distributor carries a product without that SKU being on site. If it isn’t featured in a branch or a storefront and isn’t online, it becomes very difficult for a customer to know it is in your portfolio.

We have also seen instances where there is a very high degree of correlation between items that are considered excess and obsolete (E&O) inventory and items that are not on the website. One of our distribution network members at DDS discovered that two-thirds of its E&O inventory reserve consisted of products that were in stock but not on the web. When listing those E&O SKUs on the web with rich content, they saw $400,000 in sales within 90 days of listing the products. This also provided an even larger decrease in their reserve as the sales activity reduced or completely removed the need to reserve for these in-stock items. This really resonated with the chief financial officer.

If you possess strong drop-ship capabilities as a supplier or have a strong drop-ship network as a distributor, then adding the long-tail of the portfolio can be a great way to increase order volume, improve cash flow and provide a very clear path for items to earn their way from the digital shelf to the actual shelf in a distributor’s warehouse.

Small and medium-sized IMARK members have far less resources (budgets and staff) than large companies. How can they afford to maintain an e-commerce site that includes high quality, fully attributed (and current) product data?

It can be a challenge particularly when you consider it from the customer’s point of view. The customers of small to medium-sized distributors’ websites expect the same up-to-date, rich and accurate product information and imagery as they do from the largest distributors in the industry.

This requires the small and medium-sized businesses to find significant points of leverage in how they obtain their content. They often start by trying to work with the individual manufacturers and each manufacturer’s unique process. They typically find that the combination of unique processes and data formats require a significant investment in resources and time, and this is just to work with the largest suppliers in their portfolio.

Others will try to solely leverage industry-specific data pools, which often lack all the product attributes or rich product content their e-commerce customers need.

This is where working with a company like DDS can provide an advantage, as DDS has rich, complete product content for more than 10 million SKUs across 14 industries, mapped to the format that works for each distributor, with regular updates from network manufacturers.

Many IMARK suppliers have made significant investments (time and money) to build product data for the channel. How can they determine where and when their data is being displayed by channel partners?

This is a very common question from our new network members and often the reason they want to talk to us about helping them. We speak to a lot of manufacturers that have spent many hours and dollars on improving their product information, and then struggle to know where and how it is actually being used in the channel.

To help answer these questions, we have created a “distributor status report,” which allows manufacturers to see the last time the data was accessed, the file format used and the planned frequency each distributor is ingesting their data. This report can really help answer the common questions from product, sales and channel management regarding when new products will be displayed on distributors’ websites and the frequency of updates.

How can manufacturers determine how the quality of their product data compares with other manufacturers in their product categories?

DDS provides manufacturers with “data health analytics,” which assess a manufacturer’s product portfolio and identify where information is incomplete or missing. This can provide manufacturers with a clear view to the completeness of their data.

Additionally, we have created a “vendor scorecard” that compares important pieces of information in a manufacturer’s data with that of their peers, giving a score based on product names, descriptions, specifications, images and other rich data content. This helps manufacturers create a product improvement roadmap and focus on enriching their data.

To learn more about how this collaboration changes the playing field on how enriched, standardized and synchronized data is delivered throughout the lifecycle of a project to downstream companies serving the electrical industry, visit and