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Transforming product data management for today’s grocery world

Date: October 03, 2017

Category: Industry news

Author: Jim Dickson

In this third blog of a series of four, Jim Dickson, Head of Grocery Retail at GS1 UK, looks at the benefits of the Digital DNA programme.

Digital DNA is a collaborative industry programme, bringing retailers and brands together to design and create a common approach to manage and share product data across the UK grocery sector. This transformative programme is helping retailers and brands prepare for the future, where they are better placed to make informed decisions – based on accurate data.

The Digital DNA solution will provide a single industry product data catalogue for the grocery sector where suppliers put data in using a harmonised data model, and retailers take data out in a way that suits them, when it suits them. The data will be independently quality assessed to ensure everyone is confident in it. And importantly the data will be royalty free and owned by the suppliers.

Essentially, Digital DNA is a game changer for retail as it’s being built for the industry, by the industry.

It’s all about the shopper

Everything in retail must come back to the shopper. And Digital DNA is no different.

It’s all about delivering what the shopper needs. Digital DNA will provide complete and accurate information for shoppers so they can make safe and confident purchasing decisions – based on health and wellbeing or lifestyle choices. But there are many more benefits too, for retailers and brands equally.


Digital DNA will be flexible – giving suppliers and brands freedom to work the way they want to work – but always with the confidence that the product data they’re haring is accurate and consistent. The Digital DNA solution will add capability to exiting retailer portals, or even replace them if the retailer prefers. And suppliers can choose their preferred way of putting data in while controlling who can securely take it out.


The Digital DNA solution will provide value for everyone, as it’s run by the industry, for the industry and managed through GS1 UK – a not-for-profit organisation. It’s designed to avoid data being locked in to one vendor. And the data usage rights will be agreed by the industry, so no one will be trapped by other’s commercial agendas. The governance and funding is also being managed by the industry, ensuring a fair deal for companies of all sizes.


Brands should be responsible for their own data. They are best placed to ensure it is complete and accurate. Digital DNA will ensure this is the case. As part of the Digital DNA programme, a common language for high quality, validated data has been agreed by the industry, built on GS1 industry standards. There’ll no longer be a need for constant checks as a single source of image, product and logistics data will be used throughout the supply chain, from the brand to the retailer and to the shopper.

This will give retailers greater confidence so fewer samples will need to be sent from suppliers, and by having a common process, it will mean only one quality check will need to be carried out.


Managing product data today takes too much time. Everyone knows this. Digital DNA will mean retailers and brands will no longer have to waste so much valuable time on non-value-added activities. And the Digital DNA solution will be future-proof too. It will enable new developments in customer experience and manage new product categories and sectors. What this will mean is that, the retailers and brands in the grocery sector can concentrate on their most important objectives – innovation and growth.

The benefits are huge – and Digital DNA really will be transformative. As I talk to more people across the industry they recognise it as well. For too many years, we’ve all struggled with the challenges of managing product data. As an ex-retailer myself, I’m only all too aware of the problems. But now we have the chance opportunity to solve the problems of product data once and for all, with the launch of the Digital DNA solution in 2018.

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what a leading retailer and brand are saying…

As an industry, it is essential that we work together to solve the problem of providing quality product data to all our customers. Giving them this information will help them make easier purchasing decisions – whether it’s based on health and wellbeing or lifestyle choices.”

Mark Watson, Director of Planning and Supply Chain, Ocado.

“Currently, brands provide product information in multiple ways to different retailers and this adds both cost and complexity. The companies who have signed the Digital DNA industry charter are committed to working not only together, but also with our trading partners to launch this new service – for the benefit of everyone in the industry, including of course, our customers.” – Gianluca Branda, Associate Director, Product Supply for P&G Northern Europe.

Find out soon in our new blog on what Digital DNA will mean for retailers, brands and suppliers.

Jim Dickson E:
T: +44 (0)7823 526354


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