Strategic Market Alliance, a janitorial, sanitation and food service distributor cooperative, aims to streamline access to product information among members and their suppliers.

Strategic Market Alliance, or SMA, had a long-running product information problem to solve: how to standardize content among more than 100 manufacturers who sell products to its 59 member distributors.

The janitorial, sanitation and food service distributor cooperative provides technology and services to its members and in this case found an application that would give its members as much or as little access as they choose, says Chris Rowe, SMA’s director of marketing. SMA announced earlier this month an agreement with EnterWorks, a vendor of product information management technology, to provide a platform for managing product content. The technology, called Enable, is designed to improve efficiency by providing consistent online product data to members and their suppliers and customers.

“We’ve taken on the Enable platform to solve some challenges,” Rowe says. “Over 100 suppliers are close strategic suppliers of our distributors. Our members operate their own e-commerce platforms and each might have their own way to apply item numbers. Once implemented, this technology will allow cross references for each manufacturer, along with some reporting expertise, which will provide higher quality data and greater accuracy.”

Product information management technology combines data from multiple sources and presents it in a standardized format. It’s designed to create consistent product data and identify and resolve inconsistencies, then make the content available online to all participants.

EnterWorks provides its technology in equal parts as licensed on-premise software and in a hosted software-as-a-service arrangement, says CEO Rick Chavie. SMA members access the software in the SaaS model, which is particularly helpful for smaller companies that don’t have a lot of technology expertise, he says.

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Chavie declines to discuss specific pricing, but notes that the centralized access that SMA offers makes it easier for member companies to afford. “SMA can offer select capabilities to its members at a fraction of the cost of full-blown PIM systems,” he says.

SMA members, who have 227 distribution locations in the U.S. and Canada, can access the product information management platform on their websites to display or supplement manufacturer-based product content, Rowe says. SMA distributors’ sales reps possess deep product knowledge and the new system enables them to incorporate their product knowledge into the platform, he says.

That content is then available to members’ online customers. “We want the end-user to be satisfied with the experience because the bar is set very high,” Rowe says. “B2C purchasing experiences are expected and demanded in the business realm as well.”

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