Supply chain standards bodies partner for increased data access

The Canadian branch of a global supply chain standards body has signed an agreement with its U.S. counterpart’s subsidiary that will allow its members to access a database of 4,100 suppliers and retailers worldwide.

GS1 Canada will provide new and existing members access to the 1SYNC data pool, offering Canadian-based multinational suppliers to share and exchange information with global trading partners.

“We’re creating an alliance with 1SYNC, who’s being managed by a member organization of GS1, so there’s an alignment already there,” said Eileen MacDonald, senior vice-president of operations at GS1 Canada, formerly known as the Electronic Commerce Council of Canada.

A combination of Transora and UCCnet data pools, 1SYNC is a not-for-profit subsidiary of GS1 U.S., formerly known as the Uniform Code Council Inc. GS1, which is based in Brussels and Lawrenceville, N.J. (where 1SYNC is also headquartered), has member organization offices in 123 countries globally.

The 1SYNC data pool is based on the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), which is an Internet-based service that connects retailers and suppliers to the GS1 Global Registry in an automated, standards-based environment. This ensures that trading partners have consistent information in their systems at the same time. This information includes anything from logistical data to core data elements such as product size, features, benefits, marketing and nutritional information.

“Data synchronization is the foundational step in anything you want to do in electronic commerce,” said MacDonald. “If you don’t have your data cleansed and synchronized and you engage in electronic commerce, all you’re moving is dirty data.”

1SYNC supports big name multinational companies such as Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle and is actively synchronizing data between suppliers and retailers in approximately 20 countries.

Suppliers can enter their product data in the 1SYNC in several ways, including machine to machine with XML, a Web interface or with a spreadsheet load tool, said David Garcia, vice-president of strategic marketing for GS1 U.S.

“A supplier would store their data with us and then if their retailer customer is using 1SYNC, we send that data to that retailer,” said Garcia. “If a retailer is using another data pool, then we send the data to that data pool so then they can share that information with the retailer.”

Suppliers that only trade in Canada, however, will continue to use GS1 Canada’s ECCnet Registry, said MacDonald.

“If you are a vendor that deals with an American retailer that may have a Canadian operation here but the home office is in the United States, it ensures that the Canadian vendor community can come to GS1 Canada and participate just like the multinationals,” she explained.

Benefits for 1SYNC users include improved data accuracy as well as reduction in logistics costs and invoice costs, said Garcia.

“For example, if we’re synchronizing accurate information about how much a product weighs, it means that both suppliers and retailers trucks can be loaded more efficiently, which means less trucks, which means less fuel costs for trading partners,” he said.

The platform also serves as the first step towards implementing RFID technologies and standards such as the Electronic Product Code (EPC). The EPC, which is managed by GS1 subsidiary EPCGlobal Inc., is a set of coding schemes for Gen 2 RFID tags.

“What data synchronization and EPC and RFID do together is make sure there’s that solid foundation of item and price and location information that RFID then can take advantage of to help bring that information to trading partners,” said Garcia.

One of 1SYNC’s first projects with GS1 Canada will be supporting Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in Canada. In addition to the hardline market, such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, 1SYNC is looking into expanding its customers into the health-care market and the automotive after market as well.

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