NEW YORK -- Global synchronization standards for pricing and DSD (direct-store delivery), which would expand the range of data that could be accurately exchanged between trading partners, are close to being approved by standards bodies, said industry executives.
"EAN-UCC pricing standards are virtually through the standards process," said Greg Zwanziger, director, electronic commerce, Supervalu, Eden Prairie, Minn. "UCCnet has done some pilots on pricing but they're waiting for the EAN-UCC standards to be finalized."
Zwanziger made these comments last week at a session titled "Data Synchronization: The Cornerstone of Effective Collaboration," at the National Retail Federation's 92nd Annual Convention & Expo, held here at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The convention ran from Jan. 12 to 15. (For more news on data synchronization, see story, Page 4.)
Other participants in the NRF session were Susie McIntosh Hinson, senior vice president, manager of e-commerce, Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C.; Jeremy Hollows, director of business-to-business, Carrefour, Paris; and Steve David, chief information officer, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati. The session was moderated by John Fontanella, vice president and general manager, retail and CPG advisory services, AMR Research, Boston.
A pricing standard will help trading partners in such areas as DSD and scan-based trading, Zwanziger said.
David said at the session that Transora, the Web exchange to which P&G belongs, is working with UCCnet, EAN-UCC, and GCI (the Global Commerce Initiative) on standards for DSD. Transora, he noted, "is working to put together a DSD catalog. It's targeted for the first six months of this year, and a pilot will start before that."
With pricing and DSD standards, Supervalu will be able to handle different pricing levels for chains based on their location, said Zwanziger. "Manufacturers will be able to publish to me down to the store level," he said. "With DSD, you can't take it at the distribution level -- you've got to go to the store level."
While Supervalu has been pursuing scan-based trading -- in which retailers agree to pay manufacturers for products once they are scanned at the checkout -- with "a few retail chains," said Zwanziger, "you need prices and promotions in alignment before you can do that." Data synchronization via UCCnet, he added, "is a critical piece to the rollout of scan-based trading," which is commonly used in DSD.
Standards have already been approved for item attributes; UCCnet has 62 core item attributes in its data registry, which serves as a standard clearinghouse and "phone directory" for synchronization between trading partners or data pools. "Product synchronization is just the basics," said David. "We want to get to pricing, picture files and promotions." He added that once a critical mass of trading partners are exchanging core item attributes, "the rest will explode rapidly."
Carrefour's' Hollows urged manufacturers to participate in data synchronization efforts. "I told a group of manufacturers to get off the fence and get moving before we make it very unpleasant for you."
Food Lion's Hinson said that data synchronization helped the chain with processing additions, deletions and other changes in manufacturer information. "Phone calls, faxes, paper, delays, mistakes, research on discrepancies -- if you could make all that disappear, how much better would you be?"
According to Fontanella, an AMR study has shown that retailers typically spend upwards of $200 to post a single stockkeeping unit with all data and images to a master item file.