We recently did an email survey of our wholesaler and manufacturer members, asking about their use of technology and what their expectations were relating to how it would provide ROI to their firms. We also asked about their familiarity with the ASA Industry Database (IDB) that we have been building for the past 18 months.

It was apparent from our survey results that we haven't done a good enough job in communicating the nature of the IDB and the potential that it holds for our channel. We've therefore decided to offer you a quick run-through of some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about this powerful new information tool.

Q: Just what is the IDB?

The IDB is a collection of product data, catalogs, and images available in a standard format from a single resource. This “one standard, one source” concept is the foundation for delivering accurate product information, inexpensively, on a timely basis.

Q: What can the IDB do for distributors?

For distributors there are a number of ways that IDB product information can enhance your business, and do so inexpensively:

-- Maintain UPC/barcodes for your products

-- Add product images to your own website

-- Build an in-house digital library of specifications & catalogs

-- Update pricing data automatically & on-time

-- Build professional job submittal documents

-- And have content for custom product catalogs

Q: What can the IDB do for manufacturers?

For manufacturers the IDB offers a less expensive and streamlined way to handle the ever-growing task of managing content and data, and distributing that information to your wholesale network. For wholesalers who use e-commerce and automated price and data updates, managing hundreds of different contacts and formats on incoming product information can be a nightmare.

Q: Why not just get information from manufacturers' websites?

While manufacturers' websites offer a great deal of information, wholesalers want to integrate product data and marketing content with their own e-commerce initiatives. Most computer systems now installed at distributor businesses include data warehouse, and web order entry capabilities that need the support of a local source of content and data.

Q: What is involved in getting started with the IDB?

Distributors can subscribe to the IDB and download hundreds of product lines from one source with a minimum of effort. Contact the Center for Advancing Technology and attend a free 60 minute on-line demonstration to get the basics. Then select the manufacturers whose data you need from the IDB listing.

Next, download the IDB initial data file with all of the product information, catalogs, and images you ordered. Install the IDB to your product file, and perform a one-time data synchronization that compares the IDB standard numbers to your current in-house numbering system. Once the one-time synchronization process is complete, you can start receiving timely and regular updates of information…from one source.

Q: Where can I get more information?

You can visit the IDB website at www.asaidb.com, or contact Kevin Price kprice@asa.net at the Center for Advancing Technology at 800-608-7308.