Français   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join CIPH
News: Industry News

Is Your Product Data Costing You?

September 14, 2017  
Share |

CIPH members may deal in pipes, toilets, valves, and tubs, but in modern business these are essentially just ones and zeroes. A toilet isn’t really a toilet until it moves from manufacturer to wholesaler to consumer and what drives that process is information…and it has to be accurate information or everybody loses. 

Articles about Big Data abound, but they generally focus on the details such as how many people consume hamburgers on a Wednesday afternoon in Shanghai, China, and whether an understanding of what created those numbers can be applied to Sao Paolo, Brazil. In our industry, we are looking at a smaller target: the consistent accuracy of data housed in partner selling systems. 

Despite best efforts on both sides, this data is often incorrect, out of date, and in some cases ignored. When that happens value, in real dollars, is being lost. 

Three  years ago, using a third-party expert in data exchange management, CIPH did some hypothetical testing. Manufacturers and wholesalers had their data compared to see what gaps, if any, there might be. The results were astounding. Using just a simple number of product attributes – Price, Item #, UPC # and Description – an alarming amount of data just didn’t match. In one extreme case, only 1% of the data was considered “clean”.

The causes of these mismatches range from system incompatibility to human error, but what is even more alarming is the effect. When a supplier was asked what the costs of “fixing” an invoice “data error”  the estimate was $40, not all that much. However, when probed further on the frequency of such occurrences they revealed that it can happen as often as 1000 times, per quarter. Across an entire industry, it really adds up! These costs are not investments in future sales, they are just damaging the profitability of current ones. 

Worried by this disturbing information, CIPH formed a Task Force (now Committee) to investigate further. Made of a cross section of manufacturers and wholesalers, this group has been reaching out to members to understand their approach towards data management and their respective plans to bridge the identified gap. Though there are some members who are upgrading their capabilities, many are not, nor do they have plans to do so. 

The truth is we are living in transformational times for the buying, selling, and delivery of all goods. Electronic selling and fulfillment puts even more pressure on the accuracy of data systems. If the industry is not able to respond, there will be some challenging times ahead. 

The best way for our industry to productively move forward is to find ways to work even more closely together. It could start with common industry data standards, lead to the creation of data governance principles, and perhaps the creation of a data “cooperative”. No matter the solution, it is critical to the success of the industry that we work together to solve this problem.


The IT Committee is focused on a mutually beneficial solution so that the ones and zeroes won’t get in the way of providing Canadians with the industrial, plumbing, and heating products they need. To find out more about the IT Committee or to get more involved please contact Matt Wiesenfeld


Members of the IT Committee:

Chair: Michael Kotyck (KOTYCK BROS. LIMITED)

Jonathan Armstrong (MOEN)

Elise Blais (IPEX INC.)

Natasha Broomfield (BLANCO CANADA INC.)

Katherine Charles (EMCO CORPORATION)

Kevin Ernst (OS&B)
Tanya Gravel (IPEX INC.)

Pierre Houle (J.U. HOULE LTÉE)

Keith Ottaway (ALLPRISER)
Joshua Pedersen (BARTLE & GIBSON CO. LTD.)
Leatitia Samson (J.U. HOULE LTÉE)

Andrew Yull (B & B Trade Distribution Centre) 

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal