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Tesco, Ocado, Unilever and Sainsbury’s share why the UK grocery industry is backing productDNA

Date: November 13, 2018

Category: Industry news

Last month, GS1 UK hosted a live webinar alongside senior directors from Tesco, Ocado, Unilever and Sainsbury’s to discuss why UK retailers and manufactures are adopting productDNA

Designed by the industry, for the industry, productDNA is a single catalogue of high-quality, independently verified data that enables retailers and suppliers to use one shared language to describe and process products. The platform is designed to tackle the industry-wide issue with inaccurate and inconsistent product data that is caused by suppliers having to input the same product data or new line forms into multiple retailer portals. During the webinar, Ocado’s director of planning and supply chain, Mark Watson said,

"It is no secret that customers across retail expect to see rich and accurate product information to enable them to make better informed buying decisions; whether they are trying to compare calorie content or find out if a particular product is identified as vegetarian or has allergen warnings. Customers find it frustrating, as we all know, if data is missing, if it is inconsistent or inaccurate. So, our mission, from a customer point of view, is to make the customer interaction friction free, and productDNA goes a long way to supporting this business-critical mission."

Watson went onto add,

productDNA is by the industry, for the industry - which I think is incredibly important. It is a single view of all product data. Product data from multiple suppliers will be collated and validated in one central system, which will simplify and speed-up the process for onboarding new suppliers, launching new product lines and approving amendments. The absolute intention from the outset of this project, was high-quality, rich data to future proof this process.”

Improved brand representation is one of the key benefits of using productDNA from a manufacturer’s perspective. Unilever’s customer operations director, Richard Sadler commented,

“Through the click of a button we are going to be able to transfer data from our systems and then it is going to be able to be pulled directly into a retailer’s system, which will improve efficiencies and enable us to more easily keep our data up-to-date. This will ultimately ensure that when consumers are looking at these products on our customer websites, they have the right information in front of them to make the right decisions.”

Sadler went on to add highlight the importance of productDNA as an industry play, and the need for the broader community to come together to solve a problem that is too big to solve alone.

“We have seen retailer engagement being really strong over the past few months and more and more retailers are getting on board. This gives us confidence that this really is an industry solution and it will get backed over the long term.”

Tesco’s director of global commercial transformation, Andrew Hughes, was next to share why Tesco are supporting productDNA focusing on the importance of improving the customer journey through trusted data.

“Recent sad events in the news demonstrate the importance of accurate and trusted data for customers. In my mind it is not a by-product of actually selling things. Quality data is just as important, as an intrinsic value, as the product inside. We haven’t always thought of it that way, but certainly the way the market has highlighted the way data drives the decision to shop for the consumer, it has to be the thing that we go after.”

Mike Du Satouy, future infrastructure commercial operations at Sainsbury’s re-enforced this point by saying,

“No-one should be in any doubt about the responsibility of the food, drink, non-food industry to present customers whoever they are, wherever they are with information that is basically accurate. Accurate to the degree that they can trust it and that they can trust any retailer of any size selling the products that manufacture sell. Whether you’re a farmer or a large concern like Unilever, everybody has due responsibility to be safe and legal.”

The session ended with a number of questions about productDNA from the brands on the line. This included:

Q. Is there a plan for all grocers to sign up?

A. Yes absolutely. We are currently live with Tesco and Ocado and are in conversations with all the other major grocery retailers who absolutely see the value in productDNA.

Q. Will image content be included as part of the productDNA process as well or will this information have to be pushed to retailers separately?

A. Currently productDNA is live on new lines forms, however by the end of the year the data model will include all your ecommerce and customer facing attributes and then early 2019 we will be launching an images service to get those images to retailers as well. There is a clear call from the industry that they want one pipe to get all their data from. We are here to collaborate and offer the best service for the industry.

Q. Is there any option for other channels to sign up, for example wholesalers / convenience / OOH retailers?

A. Yes, absolutely, they are on the roadmap. We are currently in discussions with wholesalers, retailers and convenience channels.

Q. Can the system link to our current data source, enabling a quick upload from a single source rather than relying on manual human input?

A. productDNA can be seamlessly linked to your PIM system, GDSN or can pull information straight from excel or through an API. This should avoid the need for manual work and human error.

The webinar finished with a call-to-action from the retailers to get involved. Andrew Hughes said,

“I would ask you all to get engaged in productDNA, to talk to GS1 UK and we will certainly, through Tesco and our commercial teams, be asking you to start the journey now. I really think it is a great opportunity for us to make the way we work simpler, much cheaper and ultimately delight our customers with much more accurate and trusted data.”

If you would like to find out more about productDNA or to sign-up for the solution, register your interest here.


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