Data Synchronisation has fast become one of the key topics in the retail industry. For suppliers and manufacturers in the Australian packaged good industry, supporting local Data Pools such as EANnet, is quickly becoming a mandatory process for exchanging product and pricing information with their customers.
Traditionally a manual process, this exchange of product information has been performed via the use of paper‑based buying forms, or Excel spreadsheets. With the advent of new technologies for Business-to-Business electronic trading, commonly known as B2B, this manual process of sharing product information has now become vastly outdated, and also inefficient.
Since the launch of EANnet by GS1 Australia, retailers such as Coles Supermarkets and Metcash have reaped the benefits associated with Data Synchronisation. Working closely with their suppliers, they have been able to eradicate many of the inefficiencies and errors linked to incorrect product master data.
However, EANnet does add another level of complexity for managing product data. For many organisations, there can be a significant investment required to participate in EANnet. This investment takes many forms, such as internal system development, the purchase of EANnet middleware tools, developing the skills & resources to gather, cleanse and maintain this dataset.
Managing EANnet data is only a small part of the overall data management process for several companies. Within their business, EANnet product attributes are usually accompanied by vast numbers of product images, material safety data, product data sheets, barcode reports, along with internal information like ingredient lists, and nutritional data. This information is often scattered across a range of network drives, spreadsheets and ad-hoc databases. It is unclassified, unmanaged, and inaccessible by the employees who need it most (e.g. sales, marketing and customer service staff).
EANnet has now been operating successfully for a number of years in Australia. As suppliers embark on EANnet projects, the need to gather and cleanse data for their customers has highlighted acute inefficiencies in their operations, especially for staff in customer facing roles.
Not having easy access to all the product information they need to do their jobs, turns a routine enquiry about products and pricing into a much larger task. Daily transactions like order processing and invoicing create enormous downstream problems like refunds, credits, returns and claims because product information supplied to their customers was incorrect. These companies now understand the problems of not having product data that is centrally maintained, and centrally controlled.
For many companies participating in EANnet, the middleware solutions, the companies originally purchased were adequate for compliance reasons, but are inappropriate for delivering the internal benefits associated with:
Giving employees easy access to product master data
Integrated processes for managing and sharing product data
With the transition from EANnet to the new and more complex GS1net in late 2007, organisations are now starting to revisit their overall data management processes.
More than just Compliance
Innovit has been a leader in Product Data Management solutions since 1999. Innovit’s range of iICE EANnet tools have been developed as scaleable solutions for suppliers, with easy to use data validation, through to advanced product information management. Innovit’s partnership with GS1 Australia provides great insight to the challenges that are currently being faced by suppliers in how product data is managed for EANnet.
To answer these challengers, Innovit has created their Beyond EANnet Compliance education programme. This series of education seminars is open to all EANnet users, with the opportunity to participate in one-on-one business reviews. Beyond EANnet Compliance focuses on both the internal and external data requirements of business. Beyond EANnet Compliance is designed to provide a range of strategies that will allow company to implement product data management practices that deliver data consistency, accuracy and integrity.
Innovit’s Beyond EANnet Compliance program will deliver the following outcomes:
Detailed understanding of the benefits that can be achieved by having good data quality and data management processes.
Examples of what similar organisations have done to answer the challenges of managing diverse types of product master data.
The use of Global Data Pools such as EANnet; and the adoption of GDSN standards that are being introduced to GS1net in mid‑2007
Opportunity to meet other companies within supply chain to discuss the common issues associated with managing product data.
An introduction to the type of solutions that can move company from being just EANnet compliant, to having a sustainable and efficient data management process
Opportunity to participate in one-on-one sessions that provide a company-specific review of entire data management processes including people, processes, systems, and trading partner requirements.
Innovit’s Beyond EANnet Compliance series began in November 2006 to assist suppliers planning to adopt GS1net, and will continue through to July 2007. Seminars will be held in both Sydney and Melbourne.