Is SEMA Data DIY or Turnkey? You Decide

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We hear clients say things like SEMA is “do-it-yourself". But why?

The aftermarket automotive parts industry is like the Wild West right now. There are brave entrepreneurs out there who are forging ahead and selling online with data that is… well, let’s just say, not of the best quality. Products without images, incorrect MAP prices, wrong shipping dimensions, terrible titles and descriptions... the list goes on. The reality is that most manufacturers aren’t thinking about how their data will look in an online store.

So when these entrepreneurs look online for solutions, they typically see the “turnkey” options first. They are flashy with lots of advertising. They provide the store, the data, and everything in one big chunk. The argument to use a system like this is compelling because all of the technical work is handled.

Someone who decides to go on their own therefore sees SEMA as do-it-yourself. But DIY doesn’t have to be a bad thing. DIY using SEMA data means they can pick their own store platform, suppliers, and choose advanced SEO and filtering techniques. There is ultimately more control and freedom on this path.

Membership with SEMA offers all kinds of benefits including access to the SDC, the SEMA Data Co-op, which provides you with a wealth of auto parts product data. This data must be combined with stock levels from your supplier. When you get your data from the SDC you’re allowed unlimited exports that include updates at the frequency of your choice. That way you can get all your auto parts data from one source - a source that includes PIES and ACES data validated to the industry standards. 

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You don't hear this kind of “DIY” talk in other markets like home decor, auto parts, art materials, sportswear, wireless devices, etc. Can you imagine? You’d never have a conversation with an e-commerce owner where you’d say “Oh, you can just patch the data together from some online catalogs… maybe try Montgomery Ward and the Pottery Barn…”!! No self-respecting e-commerce store owner would accept that as an approach for managing his/her data.

The general belief is that there are two options for setting up a store:

1. Turnkey

In this scenario you get all your data (product data, images, inventory, pricing, etc.) from a single source; maybe your store will be proprietary and tied to the data provided by the platform you’re using. This works well for clients who are not too comfortable with technology. Or maybe they want to keep it simple because they are managing the whole operation single-handedly.

2. Do it yourself

For those who are a little more tech-savvy but still want to keep it DIY, there are create-a-store platforms like Shopify, 3dCart, eBay, WooCommerce, and Magento. These stores get the brand data that they like from SEMA (and other sources). If they’re using SEMA they sign up with the suppliers they like - such as Keystone, Hanson, Meyer, NPW, etc. - or they can get their data directly from the manufacturer. 

So why go with DIY when there are turnkey solutions available? Here are a few of the reasons. With turnkey you can’t:

  • Pick your own store platform

  • Pick where your parts data is coming from. Most turnkey solutions come with a fixed line card of brands. Maybe there’s some little niche brand of products that is just perfect for your store - but you’re not going to get that data into your store without going DIY.

  • Look unique. Generally, the turnkey solutions want their branding, not yours, on your store. The result? Your store ends up looking a lot like a ton of other ones out there.

  • Economize. Yes, they do a lot of things for you and your store, but don’t expect to get all that for free! A high percentage of what you hoped would be your profit goes instead to the turnkey platform.    

  • Get your store set up quickly. Sometimes it can take months

And a final advantage to DIY: you have much more control over your SEO. With proper SEO optimization, you can earn much more traffic to your particular store, than you would get with a one size fits all solution.


Author: Stephanie Benger
Marketing and Accounts Manager of Data Here-to-There, a company that can automate your online store. Import your SEMA data, merge it with your stock data, adjust pricing, handle fitment, apply filters, and send it to the store platform of your choice. Data Here-to-There will add products automatically to your store and keep it up-to-date and accurate so that you can focus on selling. No matter how many manufacturers or suppliers you do business with, Data Here-to-There has a customized solution for you. Their support is top-notch and available to you for the entire life of your store. Visit their website for more details: