KEASBEY, N.J. — Some CPG manufacturers are failing to consistently follow industry standards designed to ensure the accurate use of product data, with adverse consequences for retail operations and consumer trust, according to a Wakefern Food Corp. executive.
“The guidelines and rules created to support the GDSN [Global Data Synchronization Network] are not universally applied,” said Michael Durning, manager of data integrity for Wakefern here, during a presentation last month at the GS1 Connect conference in San Antonio, hosted by GS1 US, Lawrencevile, N.J. “Not everyone is playing by the same rules.” Wakefern is a wholesale cooperative operated by the owners of ShopRite stores in the Northeast.
“To do business with Wakefern, you must follow GS1 standards,” Durning told suppliers at the conference.
While Durning described the percentage of manufacturers in violation of the rules as a “minority,” he added that “this minority can affect a large number of [products].”
Wakefern employs the GDSN, a network overseen by GS1, Brussels, to receive and synchronize new and updated product data from more than 1,300 trading partners supplying more than 29,000 warehouse items. However, because some manufacturers are not adhering to rules governing data accuracy or the allocation of GTINs (global trade item numbers), Wakefern often is left to make corrections to the items it receives.
“The GDSN standards work very well,” said Durning. “But there is an opportunity for improvement in data quality and this comes from compliance and understanding [the rules].”
The impact of product data provided by manufacturers extends from the supply chain (warehousing and transportation) to the retail point-of-sale (scanning, shelf labels, replenishment, nutritional data) to e-commerce (product images, information on nutrition, allergens and ingredients).
Durning stressed the food-safety impact of inaccurate allergen information. “Someday [a manufacturer] is going to provide the wrong information and something bad is going to happen with someone eating something they shouldn’t have.”
Earlier this year Wakefern began piloting a Vendor Data Quality Scorecard, and is “close to rolling it out,” said Durning. The web-based scorecard is designed to measure the performance of suppliers in regard to data accuracy for new and existing items, and provide feedback on key indicators.