Skip to content

Standardising master product data – the next frontier for collaboration in apparel

Date: July 13, 2017

Category: Industry news


Jacky Broomhead, market development manager for apparel at GS1 UK recently spoke to Essential Retail to argue the case for more collaboration between retailers and brands if we are to finally solve the problem of poor quality master product data across the apparel industry.

GS1 UK recently completed a discovery pilot with Harrods, John Lewis and one of their common brands to identify shared challenges in the apparel supply chain. Through our investigation, we’ve discovered that a lot of the bottle necks stop product moving through their supply chain or being made available to sell stem from challenges with product data. These challenges relate to the quality of the data, when it’s provided and the increased number of attributes that are now required to trade online.

But this problem isn’t simply the fault of suppliers and brands. As Simon Finch, distribution director of Harrods, acknowledges, “we’re asking brands for different bits of data in different ways and at different times. There’s a group of retailers complaining about brands’ ability to give us data, but actually we’re not helping because we’re not coordinated.”

Working together to standardise the set up and communication of master product data is the next frontier for collaboration in the apparel sector. Our neighbours in grocery are already on this journey. Through the Digital DNA programme facilitated by GS1 UK, grocery retailers and brands are working together to build an industry data model with common attributes and an industry governed platform to easily share product data. Having a standard format and platform will remove a lot of the non-value-added work spent requesting, keying in and querying product data – saving the grocery sector at least £200m per year. Considering the higher SKU count in apparel, what potential impact could this have on fashion retail?

Read the full article on Essential Retail.