How trading of product data will continue


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 2 2016)

In the past, all manufacturing and retail companies have tried to optimise the product supply chain. This was accomplished primarily to support the typical buying style of consumers in the “Brick & Mortar” world. But in today’s e-commerce and mobile-based retail environment, the challenges for manufacturers and retailers have increased in many ways when it comes to data management.

A wrong dimension value can lead to challenges in the physical brick and mortar stores like shelf space for the retailer getting wasted, extra inventory being ordered, etc. The consumer of today searches and buys products based on product data, and not the physical product. Hence the product information supply chain is much more important than the product supply chain in the current business scenario.

In most companies, product data is managed in structured and unstructured formats in multiple applications, e-mails, excel files, word documents and pdf documents all over the enterprise. This makes the data less reusable and in most cases unavailable for search, retrieval or reporting purposes.

An enterprise MDM system serves as the single source of truth for all data consumed from a variety of sources, so that all the consumers internal and external get the same accurate, reliable and complete data. Riversand’s MDMCenter is the industry-leading PIM technology, which helps you create this holistic system to manage all your product data, channel specifications and multiple taxonomies from a business user point of view and a robust integration framework in order to enable your organisation  to rationalise the multiple points of integration going to or originating from one data source. 

Riversand has invested significantly in building a robust connector framework to support generating connectors to consume from and publish to various standardised data pools and data exchanges. For Retail and Manufacturing industries in CPG, Food Services, GM, Healthcare, etc. the most prevalent standard across the industry is the GDSN standard which is managed by GS1. 

The company already has a certified connector to 1WorldSync, one of the preferred GDSN data pools. This connector is the first multi-domain and PIM system to get certified with MjR3. It comes prepackaged with GPC brick hierarchy and associated data model, tailored workflows for data enrichment, machine-to-machine orchestration, all GDSN and 1WS validation rules, automated computations and most importantly full MjR3 compliance for every requirement across all sectors.

With the announcement of GDSN Major Release 3, all the manufacturers and retailers are preparing to get ready to support the new standards and the changes coming along with them. Major Release 3 is the first major update to the GDSN standard in over 10 years. It is non-backward compatible, therefore companies synchronising product information will need to upgrade to the new standard if they wish to continue syndicating data.

These changes have huge benefits for manufacturers and retailers, but also come with significant challenges to adopt. Some high level benefits with these new standards are at first that with all the new and improved attributes, manufacturers can send much more granular data than before. Also the standard will now meet the regulatory requirements to provide complex nutrition panels, ingredient information of the components, etc. which are now necessary to support regulatory requirements, such as EU 1169/2011 and US FDA UDI. Furthermore, the new structure now enables much faster changes in the standards for a specific sector, like healthcare or foodservice. The underlying data model is much more modular and sector-specific enabling new industry requirements to be easily implemented.

Key features of Riversand MDMCenter 1WorldSync connector are the support modules for all of GS1 GDSN standards 3.1: GPC Taxonomy/Hierarchy, all Common attributes, all Trading Partner- and Target Market-specific attributes, all Context-specific or Industry-specific attributes, e.g. Food and Beverages etc., Validations for all Common, Trading Partner- and Target Market-specific attributes and Packaging Hierarchy Management.

Another key feature is the support for complete GDSN Message choreography (CIN, CIL, CIP, CIC, etc.): Transform and Generate XML messages conforming to 1WorldSync standards, detailed status tracking at each level of the packaging hierarchy for each transaction, like register, update, link, publish to trading partner, etc. and the ability to notify a user or role when a message fails validation at any step in the process flow. The last feature is that the preconfigured process flows support the entire GDSN life cycle: Register/Modify, Publish Product, Un-Publish Product, Re-Publish Product, Modify Packaging Links etc.

Riversand is the only player in the market also targeting building connectors for specific trading partners such as Kroger, Walmart and Target. Every trading partner has an extra set of “top-off” attributes and validations which are over and above the GDSN and 1WorldSync requirements. Each one of these trading partners have their own way of onboarding this data either using an automated messaging to their own vendor portal, Web Services / API orchestration or manual data entry.

GDSN standards undergo changes on a regular cadence to support business needs and evolving business environment: bi-annual minor releases and major releases. With the Riversand GDSN Connector you do not need to worry about the changing standards as Riversand maintains them and passes these updates down to the customers as part of the Annual Maintenance Support. One thing to consider is that the actual data changes for invalid data will be done by the customer’s business users.

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Picture credits © John Lund/Getty Image

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