ARG Industrial, also known as Alaska Rubber Group, faces ongoing pressure to manage product data correctly and expeditiously with suppliers like hose fittings manufacturer Midland Industries.
That pressure stems from ARG’s role as a light custom-manufacturer as well as a distributor of more than 25,000 SKUs for industrial hoses, fittings and related products for such industrial uses as oil rigs and fuel-delivery trucks. Most of its business involves replacing broken industrial hoses, and ARG’s sales and product teams often work with customers to assemble customized hose products and systems.
“You have to make sure that you’re getting the right data from your suppliers, and also that you’re presenting the right data on these assemblies to your customers,” says Mike Powers, ARG’s director of ecommerce and digital. Ship a hose assembly with the wrong specifications, and the customer could experience severe problems, he adds.
ARG B2B digital commerce sales
ARG is working with the the Industrial Distributor Cooperative (IDCO) buying group and product information management (PIM) and other software from digital commerce technology vendor Unilog to expedite how it receives product data from Midland and other critical suppliers.
“It’s the way of the future,” says Ross Baker, Midland’s director of product strategy. “The more distributors that are pulling this data we’re putting into the PIM, the more chances there are for sales to increase on both sides.”
Powers asserts that companies involved in ecommerce face challenges in pulling data from legacy enterprise resource planning systems and integrating that data with a customer-facing ecommerce site.
“They’re realizing that the complexity of integrating legacy ERP and B2B ecommerce is very, very tough,” Powers says. He adds that companies then often find it difficult to find the people with the necessary expertise to work with legacy ERP systems.”
Working with Unilog and IDCO, ARG receives more consistent and helpful product information from Midland and other suppliers.
Midland is now pushing new product updates quickly to ARG, “instead of us waiting 12 months to get a new catalog,” Powers says. “All we need to do is log in.”
Data collaboration results
He says the much-improved product data flow is producing several results, including:
- Increased web traffic through improved keywords and search engine optimization.
- A more useful site search tool and increased sales of newly released products.
- ARG’s enhanced ability to develop a new configurator that lets customers who want to build their own hose assemblies to order an accurate product set.
- ARG’s enhanced ability to provide punchout catalogs that let buyers punch out from their procurement software to an ARG product catalog.
Baker adds that Midland expects to extend the level of product data-sharing it does with ARG to more companies to foster increased revenue for both Midland and its channel partners.
Paul Demery is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy. [email protected].
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