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Friday, February 06, 2015
An Open Letter to Fellow Vendors in Support of Creating Industry Standards
As vendors, we should seriously consider creating a standard format that satisfies the needs of all. This would greatly reduce the amount of time and effort we spend making sure each feed is consistent, and at the same time enable quicker deployment of new feeds which are popping up every day as new classified sites are launched that our clients want their vehicles on.
There's really no reason NOT to have an industry standard format that simply contains ALL available fields that we as vendors may need. If one vendor doesn't have a particular field available in their database (let's say "Down Payment" for example), that field could simply be omitted as an optional field or left blank. There would be a minimum amount of required data such as VIN, year, make, model, trim, etc. and a large amount of optional fields.
An industry standard was created years ago for web leads (ADF-XML) and has certainly simplified things on that front, but vehicle data files remain as an assortment of varying file specs.
I know I'm not the first person to suggest this, but little discussion has ever come out of any suggestions in the past, so I hope to change that.
On a side note, another beneficial tool would be to have a database of known customers who have either committed fraud (i.e. signing up for services when they are a non-dealer and found to be operating a scam) or who have become delinquent in their payments before moving on to the next vendor and doing the same to them. Not a "blacklist" per se, but more of a low-level background check based on info supplied by previous vendors. Something to let each other know "hey, this dealership used services for 3 months then disputed their credit card transaction for payments". The info would be available to vendors as more of an "FYI", and the vendor can choose to do with that information as they wish.
If any of our fellow vendors want to participate in creating industry standards for data feeds and/or a "red flag" list, please feel free to contact Jake at Higher Turnover, LLC through our website, www.higherturnover.com.
The struggle is real, and I admire your optimism. I doubt this will happen, sadly.
Only new and small companies benefit from everyone rewriting to fit a standard, and these companies have the least amount of power to make change happen. A company like yours or the one I work for is actually in a position of strength having already written 100 feeds. That's a big barrier to entry for any new player.
I have mixed feelings about ADF XML leads. The famous ADF-XML spec PDF contains XML that doesn't validate (including smart quotes!), and that has lead to inconsistencies in implementation. It's also stagnant and essentially author-less, so let's hope it works for another 15 years.
I agree, it probably won't happen but figured I'd throw it out there since I've never seen anyone else actually propose the idea, at least over the last decade we've been doing it. I suspect part of the "problem" is that all existing feed scripts would need to be reworked, which is seen as an expense (both time and money) instead of an investment in keeping things simpler in the future.
Completely agree on your assessment of the ADF-XML specs. We've run across inconsistencies just this month between different CRM vendors, which ADF-XML is supposed to prevent, in theory. Here's to another 15 years! :)
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