A new service offering a universal format for retailers and suppliers – including Tesco, itsu and Unilever – to share and manage product data and images is being launched today by GS1 UK.
The not-for-profit standards organisation has been working with a group of grocery retailers and suppliers to develop an industry-governed service to deliver accurate and consistent data.
productDNA:hub will set out agreed processes and data rules, based on the common need to improve product data quality and efficient sharing across the retail industry.
GS1 UK can now announce that members of the group will be implementing the service from early 2018, ahead of a full industry launch in spring 2018.
The productDNA:hub service is based around three components. It enables suppliers to share product data and images with retailers in a consistent format with standardised attributes and data fields; it catalogues product data and images; and product data is independently audited and verified for accuracy and quality.
GS1 UK is managing productDNA:hub on behalf of the industry, through the Retail Grocery Advisory Board, whose members represent almost 80% of the UK retail grocery market.
The service defines and manages more than 150 industry-agreed data attributes for products across the grocery sector, including physical product data such as dimensions, weight and volume, as well as ingredients, nutritional values and allergen information.
The product data and images are owned by suppliers, without any third-party commercial constraints, and all the data attributes follow rules established by GS1 global standards, with further attributes to cover additional retail sectors planned for later in 2018.
Gary Lynch, Chief Executive of GS1 UK, said: “Retailers and suppliers have spent years wrestling with the challenges of managing and sharing product data and images. Historically, there has been a huge problem with incompatible systems and multiple processes. This has led to inaccurate and unreliable data across the retail sector, which has affected the shopper experience.
“Only by working together has the industry finally been able to solve the problem with productDNA:hub, a single source of trusted product data and images for every retailer and supplier, including the smallest suppliers and start-ups.”
In July 2017, GS1 UK announced that 12 companies, including L’Oréal, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, P&G, PepsiCo, Unilever, Co-op, Itsu, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose had signed an industry charter committing to adopt a single product data and image service.
George Wright, Commercial Director, Fresh Food at Tesco, said: “When adopted universally across the industry, productDNA:hub will give retailers increased confidence in the product data they receive, as well as helping to reduce the amount of inaccurate data and increasing the efficiency of our product data processing.
Aidan Tyers, Operations Director for itsu [grocery], said: “Our business has gone from strength-to-strength and a large part of this is because we have been selling our products beyond our own shops and into a variety of retailers. While this is a real positive for the business, we are sourcing goods from the global supply chain and with that comes a host of challenges, especially around accurate product data.
“productDNA:hub is therefore absolutely vital for smaller suppliers too, enabling companies like ours to provide better quality product information to our customers and helping us to concentrate on other parts of the business, like the next strategy to grow the business.”
“We have many hundreds of products at Unilever which we supply to multiple retailers. Today, every retailer requests our product data in a different format, each using a different process. This complexity costs the industry time, money and resources,” said Richard Sadler, Customer Director, Unilever UK.
“That’s why productDNA:hub is such an important milestone for manufacturers and retailers alike. Providing independently verified data once, using a single industry-owned service will make a huge difference to the way we operate and for everyone in the industry.”
Gary Lynch added: “Shoppers today are hungry for information about the products they are buying. They’re not only looking at nutritional values but they also want to know where their products are coming from and whether there are any allergens present that they need to be careful of.
“productDNA:hub will benefit the entire grocery industry when it comes to managing data and will also allow them to deliver on their promise to their customers, while enabling them to turn their attention to other important areas of innovation.”
All retailers and suppliers are invited to register their interest from today at: www.gs1uk.org/productDNAhub.