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Why productDNA:hub will be as significant as the first barcode scan back in 1974

Date: December 14, 2017

Category: Opinion piece

Author: Gary Lynch

Last week we announced a major new service for the retail industry – productDNA:hub. As part of the announcement we stated that it will be the UK retail industry’s single source of trusted data.

Now admittedly that’s quite a bold claim to make for a service that won’t be widely available for everyone until Spring 2018.

So how can we make such a claim? Well, it all comes back to the support we have from across the retail industry, and the work we’ve already carried out with industry for many years to get to this point, as I’ll explain here.

The problem of poor quality product data goes back many years

We’ve been highlighting the problems with product data for a few years now. Back in 2009 we received widespread interest in a paper we released called The Data Crunch Report. Everyone agreed there was a problem – retailer, brands, suppliers and service providers alike. Back then we estimated that poor quality product data would cost the industry at least £700m over the following 5 years, and a further £300m in lost revenues over the same period. Even for an industry as large as UK retail, these figures were alarmingly high.

And yet no one could solve the problem. The industry was changing too fast and new technology and competition meant there were always more pressing matters. It wasn’t until 2016, when an influential group of retailers and suppliers got together to form the GS1 UK Retail Grocery Advisory Board, that a real breakthrough was made. The group was formed with the remit to identify common problems they faced across the industry. The issue of poor quality data was immediately highlighted, and the group soon commissioned a report, from PA Consulting Group, that looked at the issues and possible solutions.

Interestingly they found that the problem had been solved in many countries around the world. And that the best solutions were found when industry worked together on a single solution, built on industry standards, rather than multiple proprietary or commercial services.

PA Consulting’s report also confirmed our earlier findings, that poor quality data was costing the retail industry over £200m a year in unnecessary costs, inefficiencies and lost sales.

Which is why the Retail Grocery Advisory Board asked us to work with them to identify and develop a solution, which last week we proudly announced to the world – productDNA:hub.

A solution that’s industry-owned and industry-governed

Most importantly, productDNA:hub is owned and governed by the industry. This means, for example, that industry will decide how much users will be charged. The smallest companies will be charged the least, making it fair and equitable for all.

Brand owners will always own their product data and images, rather than third-party content providers. And the industry will decide how third-party data and app providers can access the service, and at what cost.

Our role as GS1 UK is to manage the service on behalf of the industry. As we’re not-for-profit and industry-owned, we’re not taking money out for shareholders or for any other commercial gain.

The UK retail industry’s single source of trusted data

This is why we’re confident about the claims we’re making and why we believe that productDNA:hub will really be the UK retail industry’s single source of trusted data.

It will provide a single catalogue of high quality, independently verified product data and images that allows retailers, brands and suppliers to use the same language to describe their products.

But it’s not just us talking about productDNA:hub in such bold terms. Following our announcement last week Marcus Dunsmore, Vice President Integrated Supply Chain at Mondelēz International, has said:

productDNA:hub is a significant milestone for the retail industry. In years to come we will look back on it as the equivalent to the introduction of the barcode in 1974.”

Marcus Dunsmore, Vice President Integrated Supply Chain at Mondelēz International

And it’s not just Marcus either, many other major retailers and suppliers have been saying similar things in the last week.

Our goal now is to make sure we deliver what we’ve promised the industry. Rest assured we’ll be working tirelessly with the early adopters of productDNA:hub to ensure the entire retail industry benefits from this new service, so that in years to come we can look back and say that this announcement really was as important as the first barcode scan in 1974.

Read more about productDNA:hub and how it will benefit the retail industry

Gary Lynch



The UK retail industry’s single source of trusted data