Canada's food industry leads the world in the achievement of a national industry-owned data base for shelf-space management. After two and a half years of negotiating and fine-tuning, an agreement was reached by the Canadian Council of Grocery Distribution and the Grocery Products Manufacturers of Canada to create the Canadian Spacemanagement Databank Foundation. It is designed to help retailers to optimize their stores' shelf space allocation.
Having a common national data base offers a long list of advantages, such as providing uniform dimensions with Universal Product Code integrity and uniformity of application for technological measuring. It has raised the standards of UPC bar codes in terms of preselection of products for entry into the databank by ensuring the validity of the UPC bar code and scanning before being photographed. It has eliminated the duplication of effort and cost required to maintain up-to-date data base information by every retailer, as well as obviating the manufacturer's scramble to keep the data current and useful. It has provided quick access to a central library instead of manual systems.
The collaboration has made for closer partnerships between manufacturers and distributors, and has improved profits by increasing inventory turns, reducing inventory investment, eliminating slow-moving products and enhancing customer service levels. Delivery schedules have improved, as has store design -- for example, by allowing for more aisles in a store and reducing the need for back-room storage. Retailers' buying operations have become more accurate and they have been able to access the image and precise dimensions of new products on the market.
Information sessions were held with suppliers and distributors across the country to advance the objectives, methods and benefits of the databank. The foundation has moved into second gear in order to accelerate the sending in of products by manufacturers and distributors. The "pick and scan" approach it adopted (identifying products at store level) had the effect of speeding up the entry of products into the databank.
As part of its effort to improve communications with users, CCGD created a quarterly newsletter, Info Data, and held user meetings in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Montreal; Toronto, and Calgary, Alberta, to explain the 3.0 version of the access program.
Headquartered in Montreal and headed by Executive Director Francine Plante, the foundation has experienced phenomenal growth: It now has more than 1,500 clients and some 44,000 SKUs entered. The foundation is targeted to have 50,000 SKUs by the end of 1995. CSDF has retained the services of Maufer Distribution Inc. to operate the program. MDI provides users with data and planograms for improving shelf layouts.
John F. Geci is president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.