Companies using the GS1 Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN) - a global yellow pages supported by retailers such as Tesco and Asda, which allows companies to exchange standardised data on a real-time basis - has grown from 200 to over 5,000 worldwide in the last 12 months, claims GS1, the not-for-profit organisation that runs it.
GDSN is being driven by major players such as Unilever, Nestlé, Kraft and Procter & Gamble, which want to standardise dealings with their retail customers internationally, says GS1 senior executive Harshal Gore. And while the number of UK food and drink manufacturers currently involved is still small, Gore expects to have between 500 and 1,000 signed up by the end of this year as the initiative starts to take off.
"There is a big benefit for the big guys," says Gore. "But there are also huge benefits for smaller companies." While the other major UK multiples are not yet involved "we are talking to Sainsbury and Morrison", claims Gore.
The costs for small companies to sign up to GDSN is £170 a year rising to £7,000 for the biggest multinationals, says Gore.
Global suppliers and retailers that electronically synchronise data with their trading partners in the GDSN are said to save costs through efficiencies in logistics, accounting and inventory. They are also able to bring new products to the market faster and ensure better on-shelf availability, claims GS1.
GS1 reports that over half of the top 20 global retailers have now made the GDSN a cornerstone of their electronic business practice. It says the environment it provides enables standards-compliant data to be exchanged in a streamlined manner, throughout local, regional, and global supply chains.
Mike Haas, chief information officer of Johnson & Johnson's Consumer and Personal Care Group says: "Thanks to data synchronisation, we were able to significantly reduce out-of-stocks at Wal-Mart and uncover savings in other supply chain areas, such as logistics."
Sally Herbert, president of GS1 GDSN says: "Reaching the 5,000-user mark shows that the global community has confidence in the GS1 GDSN."