Skip to content

Digital DNA: Solving the industry-wide problem of poor quality product data

Date: September 21, 2016

Category: Industry news


We’re working with leading retailers and suppliers to unlock a £2 billion opportunity for the UK grocery sector

We all know that shopping habits are changing – driven by changing lifestyles and technology. Today, many of us buy our groceries more frequently and in smaller amounts. This has driven the surge in convenience stores from the largest grocery retailers over the past ten years. At the same time, larger shopping trips have been replaced by online deliveries and click-and-collect. Many of us have also become more concerned about health, wellbeing and the environment and, often, we have specific dietary and allergen needs. Which means we need to know more about the groceries we buy – and we expect the information to be always available, in-store and online.

These changes have presented enormous challenges to the grocery sector, and retailers have struggled to respond. The need to always provide the right product, at the right place, at the right price and at the right time has put pressures on the supply chain and existing systems and processes.

One of the greatest problems has been with product data, ensuring it is always accurate and consistent across all channels. It’s not a new problem - the UK grocery sector has struggled with it for many years. But it has been achieved in some countries, often through the use of the GS1 Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN). In the UK businesses have so far been unable to achieve a cross-industry approach to sharing product data – creating inefficiencies in the market.

Which is why we’re working with our new Retail Grocery Advisory Board on a new programme: Digital DNA. Its objective is to define an industry-wide solution that enables retailers and suppliers to share high quality product data. According to industry analysis, improving product data in the value chain will unlock a £2 billion opportunity for the retail grocery industry – by enhancing the consumer experience, in-store and online.

We’re also looking to collaborate with the IGD following the announcement of their new healthy eating initiative. One of its programmes aims to help and inspire people to use the product information found on packs and to make healthier choices. This means the product information must be consistent and accurate, on packaging and online – a perfect fit with our Digital DNA programme.

Later this year PA Consulting will publish an independent report about the Digital DNA programme – with the aim of inspiring the UK retail grocery sector to embrace change and to achieve the goal of sharing high quality product data. It’s the first step on a £2 billion journey.

Read more about the Digital DNA programme