Implementation, rationalization, and synchronization. These are big words that can evoke a range of emotions from excitement to genuine fear. When digging into GS1 and the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), the litany of acronyms, terms, and processes can be a little intimidating but in the grand scheme of things, we’re simply talking about an exchange of information.
Fear not, fellow Foodservice enthusiast! I’m here to help. Below are a few of the basics that newbies and veterans alike can review for some insight and clarity.
What is the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative?
In the world of Foodservice, the practice of standardized product codes, barcode scanning, and uniform location identification has been slow to catch up with its retail counterparts. GS1, a non-profit global organization, is responsible for the creation and management of standard Global Trade Identification Numbers (GTINs), Global Location Numbers (GLNs), and the exchange of that data through the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).
Industry experts had been struggling for years to come up with a solution that would help align manufacturers, distributors, and operators within Foodservice so that they could improve product data with a goal to drive waste out of the supply chain.
In 2009, 55 industry leaders came together to form the Foodservice Standards Initiative. Their vision was to drive waste out of the supply chain, improve product information, and establish a foundation for food safety through better collaboration. Currently, over 100 manufacturers, distributors, and operators continue to collaborate and execute on initiatives that will bring that vision to life.
More information can be found at http://www.gs1us.org/industries/foodservice/foodservice-gs1-us-standards-initiative
How does GDSN work?
The more involved you get, the more complex this concept of synchronizing product information can be. Never lose sight of the fact that data synchronization is simply the exchange and alignment of data. You know… to make sure distributors and manufacturers are in sync’!
Think of it like a cell phone service. In order to connect, you must have an agreement with a service provider and utilize some sort of technology to make a call or send a text message. Sometimes the technology is provided to you by that service provider and sometimes you can use technology from other companies. Think a Verizon as a service provider and Motorola or iPhone as the technology. The Global Data Synchronization Network(GDSN) works in much that same way.
In order to connect to the GDSN, a company must select a service provider. In GDSN, these are companies that GS1 Certifies as a ‘Data Pool’. Many data pools offer a range of services that will allow your company to put data into the network to send to trading partners and also establish a conduit by which your systems can receive and consume data from trading partners. They also come with a number of other services like EDI Solutions, Contract Management, or Digital Asset Management.
This illustration shows exactly the path that product data flows within the network. Within that is an endless array of options, tools, resources, services, portals, platforms, and a litany of technical jargon that enables the entire process – but keep in mind that at its very basic you are simply exchanging information.
Not sure who to connect with or need more detail? Simply reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to help.
How do I know if I’m meeting my trading partner’s needs?
Getting the information from one system, into the network, and published to a trading partner can be a daunting task. Requirements are not just for the distributor to decide on and the manufacturer to adhere to. Both parties have requirements. The most successful companies are able to connect by communicating their requirements up front rather than simply doing what their accustomed to doing internally.
First, be sure that as a publisher (most often the manufacturer) you are aligned with what the recipient (a distributor) has asked for. Conversely, make sure that as a distributor (recipient) you understand how the manufacturer (publisher) may need to adjust their processes to accommodate your needs. This can take time and on occasion, requirements or restrictions need to be flexible. Continuing that conversation by providing scorecards and scheduling regular check-in procedures will make for a successful connection.
Your data pool and/or solution provider should have a good understanding of what the requirements for each trading partner are. If you’re not sure who to contact about requirements or you would like a little more information, check with one of our experts by contacting us.
How does Attribytes fit in?
Attribytes revolutionary collaboration services and innovative technology will accelerate your GDSN initiative.
Our innovative technology will give manufacturer’s a lens into how the product information is being utilized within a distributor’s systems. This means problem solving can be done quickly. Set your eyes on how information is being translated, see the images as they are being presented to customers, and update those product specific descriptions.
We know how to solve the challenges that you are experiencing. As sales, merchandising, and product information management veterans from within the Foodservice industry, the Attribytes team has been around from the very beginning of the Foodservice Standards Initiative – even though Attribytes had not yet been born. We are leaders who have implemented the standards within several organizations and helped to shape the direction that the industry has taken the initiative.
Whether you need help getting started, need help taking things to the next level, or just a friendly ear to listen – we speak and understand your language.