4 Ways Data Standards Improve Communication Between Brands and Retailers

Once again, more than 50 companies from foodservice, healthcare, tech, and other retail gathered in Las Vegas this week for GS1 Connect, held by the nation’s only data standards governing body, GS1. But why are standards necessary? How are the data standards they instituted utilized to make the world of retail a better place? Sure, we know that all retail relies on product content that runs through the Global Data Synchronization Network, which means standards must be in place to manage that product content. But how do product content standards make managing retail product content easier and more effective for everyone (and their bottom line)?


1. Traceability Data Standards

Traceability applies mainly to the foodservice industry, which is experiencing the same evolution in chain structure as other retail factions. As the food supply chain extends to the customer rather than simply business to business (can anyone say Amazon grocery drones?), traceability of products in the supply chain is growing more important. If a supplier experiences a defect in the product (listeria in hummus, e. Coli on cabbage), having correct product content becomes an issue of consumer safety. Product standards for traceability should be upheld with the strictest attention because if product information is lacking, that only extends the time it takes to solve a problem that could be life-threatening to consumers.


2. Quality Data Standards

As digital transformation pushes more and more businesses to rethink their digital commerce strategy, data quality becomes more competitive and necessary every day. Customers have their pick of the retail litter, so complete data is the only way to attract a competitively-sized customer base, while additionally building brand loyalty. Quality product content also builds relationships between suppliers and manufacturers, because you can trust a company whose product matches their product content. How does one measure data quality on such a large scale? GS1 has implemented the Data Quality Framework for master data, to ensure that all companies and data pools are held to the same standard of quality so that retailers, foodservice companies, and even healthcare providers can ensure that their data has been carefully vetted. GS1 publishes updates and provides stewardship to these standards, as needed.


3. Sustainability Data Standards

Sustainability is something the world has taken notice of over the last several decades, and for good reason. Everyone has heard the term “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Recycling has reduced packaging waste in landfills from a whopping 66.5% to 48.5% from 1994-2012. Still, GS1 is doing its part to reduce the amount of waste used in the retail logistics process by adjusting national data standards and holding folks accountable…especially for retail packaging. When you place standards around product content and encourage retail companies to post their sustainability numbers publicly, they can be held accountable for negative actions and praised for positive ones. This gives consumer goods companies an opportunity to either shine or be held accountable for their sustainability practices, rather than continue with wasteful practices behind closed doors.


4. Brand-Retailer Integration Data Standards

The process of integrating brands and retailers with supply chain data, or upstream integration, can be accomplished with thorough, standardized transfer of quality product content. The more streamlined the data communication process, the quicker manufacturers are able to respond to market demands. The people creating the products receive feedback and can adjust the product sooner, and get it to the market faster. That’s why GS1 defined standards that decrease the time spent integrating communications between brands and retailers, to increase speed to market (and revenue) for everyone.


So while you spend your week reading “takeaway posts” from GS1 Connect 2017, keep in mind the reason for the season: data standards that make the retail world go ‘round, in terms of sustainability, traceability, data quality, and integration.

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