Coles Myer takes the lead in data synchronization

Data from more than 500 suppliers and manufacturers of products sold by Coles Myer will be available on the EANnet by the end of 2007 as the company makes serious inroads synchronising data with key partners.

By the end of next year, Coles Myer estimates at least 20,000 individual product codes or SKUs (stock keeping units) will be live and the company will be ahead of the world in terms of price data synchronization with key suppliers and manufacturers, according to Coles Myer manager of e-business and methodologies, Dougal McBurnie.

Speaking at the GS1 Impetus 2006 conference in Melbourne this week, McBurnie said being first does present its challenges as the company cannot be in a position where multiple data standards are used by retailers, as well as multiple standards for sharing data.

"Using differing standards for sharing data drives up costs and increases errors; there are a lot of standards in the world relating to e-commerce," McBurnie said.

"When we first looked at the EANnet program the first driver was business efficiency and ultimately trying to lower head office costs by removing multiple data key-in. From a supplier perspective, it will ultimately drive cost down and make it better for customers.

"If you think about business efficiency: do we have fewer people manually entering data and we have confidence in the data integrity? It helps us go to market quicker and in a better compliance position. The IT guys can make any widget talk to any widget, but what made the program a success is the passion from the business process team."

EANnet is an online repository for standardized product data sets. It is managed globally by GS1.

McBurnie outlined the Coles Myer plan for electronic data interchange and synchronization and said using the EANnet was initially for business efficiency, adding a key enabler of the project was a strong relationship with GS1.

"Mid-2005 financial year we got executive sponsorship which was an important issue; we focused on process alignment with suppliers and started with 100 suppliers with 500 live SKUs," McBurnie said.

"In the 2006 financial year we went to 300 suppliers and the last phase of the project is take-off. In the 2007 financial year we will move to 500 suppliers with 20,000 SKUs."

Sally Herbert, president of GDSN (Global Data Synchronization Network) said uptake to the EPC network has been tremendous this year, with GDSN now offering a network of 22 data pools across 30 countries. Herbert said that figure will reach to 30 data pools in 40 countries within six months.

"Price synchronization is still key for every business relationship and we (GDSN) will have data available early 2007; we will be piloting a project at the end of this year," Herbert said.

"The goal is accurate invoicing, greater speed to market and ultimately to create better consumer and customer value.

"Of the top 30 global retailers, 15 either have plans or are currently doing data synchronization with GDSN. Coles Myer and Woolworths have solid planning for data synchronization to GDSN."

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