In the information age, data has become the beating heart of any business. To keep that heart beating, data needs to be healthy and regularly screened. Operating with data that is out of date, incomplete or recreated across multiple systems causes many problems for a business and wastes time and resources.
For GS1 UK members, managing their Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) and product data is as important to overall health of their companies as it is to their trading partners.
We spoke to some of our members, to get their thoughts on the importance of well-managed product data and share their own experiences on how to get it right.
Alice Whiteley, managing director & co-founder, Yawn
Our nightwear business looks fairly glamorous from the outside and we make sure creativity is always at the core of what we do.
However, since the beginning of Yawn, we have become aware of how important it is to invest in proper systems and processes to enable us to scale. Working with GS1 UK has really helped us - it has enabled us to create GTINs and product data that work seamlessly on an international basis.
Initially, we were clueless when it came to understanding how to name and barcode our products, which resulted in a few mistakes along the way! For example, we ended up learning the hard way to never introduce special characters to our product names.
Now, creating names and barcode data for our products is something we don’t have to worry about. Instead, I can focus on the things that we do best and trading across the world.
Getting our goods into export markets is never straightforward, but working with existing product data standards certainly helps and means that on-going relationships are easier to manage.
Visit loveyawn.com or follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Catherine Curtis, managing director and founder, Babyhub
At BabyHub we have been selling our unique pyramid shaped SleepSpace travel cot through major retailers like Mothercare and Boots since March 2018. Following customer feedback, we decided to launch a new cover to accompany it on our next production run.
Only once the new production was underway did we realise that we would need new barcodes as well! And that these new barcodes would need to be on the shipping cartons as well as the printed inner cartons. I don't think it would be much fun for our logistics provider to have to open every one of them to check whether it was the new model with circus cover or old model with white cover, as well as sorting any returns!
A quick call to the GS1 support team sorted it out. It's so important to keep up with managing product data.
Visit babyhubshop.com or follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Stuart Thomson, digital marketing executive, Go Shop Direct
We have been trading online for 15 years, distributing electronic goods via our own website as well as online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
In the world of online trading, data is king, and the management of our data is at the forefront of our strategy. But with more than 7000 active GTINs, managing that data effectively can have its difficulties.
For example, we once had an issue where we repeatedly got the same error message when uploading a batch of new products to our Amazon Vendor account. After doing some digging, we realised that the GTINs input into our database all started with the sequence 501639, and not 501636, that we were authorised to use. This small mistake had been made across over 50 products and took countless hours to rectify.
Now we have a structured path to ensure that the data is correct from the first point of entry to when a product is listed online. It pays to be scrupulous with data management as the consequences of mistakes tend to be wildly disproportionate.
Visit goshopdirect.co.uk or follow on Twitter, and Facebook
Zakera Kali, founder, Peace & Blessings
When I started Peace & Blessings, I knew that I would need an SKU for my products as well as general product descriptions and barcodes. However, I didn't realise that there was a whole set of processes that I would have to follow to send information to prospective wholesalers or upload onto different websites. I soon learnt managing your product data is essential.
I use the GS1 UK My Numberbank system to structure the order of my products based on the numbers that are issued. Essentially, this simplifies the whole process. It means that my spreadsheet is consistent with the ordering of our products. This also applies to the order of our products reflected on our accounting software.
I soon discovered that online marketplaces wanted information in a certain format which was different to my website: one marketplace required 25 words whilst another gave me 100 words. Therefore, it’s worthwhile working backwards and identifying the key info from all the marketplaces you will be operating in before you start writing product descriptions.
Time is of the essence when you are wearing many hats in your business and this has made me more organised and efficient.
Visit peaceandblessings.co.uk or follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook