There are many difficulties in data synchronization in the global supply chain
rfid may have become the most eye-catching hot technology in the retail supply chain. However, before Wal Mart retail group requires its suppliers to install RFID tags for pallets and containers, another more ambitious plan is about to enter the operation stage. Wal Mart and more than 20 other retailers, including home depot, Lowe, Ace Hardware and grocers Albertsons and wegmans, are sparing no effort to publicize the advantages of data synchronization technology, and hope to use this technology to help their supply chain get rid of those error prone documents and lengthy product introductions. They asked their suppliers to submit standard based data, and summarized these data. Formlabs launched two new dental 3D printing resin materials into a centrally managed global directory, which was named GS1 Global Registry
by summarizing accurate and timely updated data into a master product file, these retailers will no longer waste time checking those errors in purchase orders and invoices. Data accuracy is also of great significance to the establishment of RFID applications, because in the whole supply chain, the speed and intensity of data flow are very large. Kathryn Cullen, a technical expert of Kurt salmon associates, a retail and consumer product consulting company in Atlanta, said: "the quality of data is very important. If the quality is not high enough, even if the data transmission speed is accelerated, it is meaningless."
but like RFID, data synchronization projects are also full of challenges for retailers and their suppliers. In a recent survey of 25 project managers conducted by Computerworld magazine, about one third of the respondents claimed that they had encountered some difficulties in collecting internal resources for data synchronization products, because in some cases, most people believed that the recent return on investment of data synchronization was elusive. Andrew white, an analyst at Gartner, estimates that only about 5% of retailers have actually launched the item synchronization program, which is only the first step in data synchronization. Some manufacturers must comply with the regulations of large retailers in the production process, and these retailers do not seem to be prepared to adopt synchronous projects. This makes those manufacturers have to bear the cost of compliance (editor's note: the U.S. government has formulated a series of relevant regulations to maintain the uniformity of data standards in each industry), which makes them unwilling to continue to the next stage of work. It is the second stage that can really generate return on investment, because in this stage, companies will be able to share a wide range of product and price characteristics data, thus bringing huge returns
white said that at present, both retailers and suppliers hope to use this technology to shorten the time of putting products on the market and hope that this technology can bring price advantages. In the long run, data synchronization is bound to achieve closer cooperation in planning and planning
the first step is to purify the data
but today, the data in the internal systems of retailers and suppliers can only be described by the word "chaos". Sometimes, multiple descriptions of a product often appear in multiple documents, and some outdated product numbers will remain in the system after many years, and the characteristics of some products, such as size or quantity in each package, are also very different, and each company has its own set of statements. For example, Zeke DuGe, CIO of smart & final, found that in order to identify IBM products, the company had to list the addresses of all 47 IBM companies in the data system. In addition, the name of Coca Cola company also has many variants, such as Coca Cola, Coca Cola or Coca Cola, as well as uppercase, lowercase, one word, two words and so on. Smart & final must know all name variants to process data effectively. DuGe said, "we are a hundred year old store with a history of 132 years, so there are quite a lot of disadvantages deposited within the company." Therefore, in order to take the first step on the road of data synchronization, they must make all kinds of data in the company organized and very "clean", and then enter the main product file. "Sometimes we have to stop and solve the current problems before moving forward," DuGe said
commerce is a retailer headquartered in California. It took the company two years and US $2million to complete the data cleaning within the company, mainly because the company wanted to purchase a complete set of new logistics systems. However, DuGe said that smart & final does not like to issue rigid instructions to suppliers, and has no plan to join the global data synchronization network (see the supporting text) at present. He said, "I will leave the problem of that network to those researchers to study. This network is indeed a very good idea, but there will be many difficulties in implementing it. Most of us can't reach a consensus on the issue of data, and we don't know what it means."
greg Lenard, head of inventory control at Ace Hardware, believes that many retailers are unwilling to play a leading role. But he said that now more retailers should "seriously invest" in this cause and help everyone define the standard of data synchronization. Ace began to try data synchronization technology for the first time almost six years ago, and later joined a retailer group composed of hard core supporters of data synchronization, and took great pains to establish 151 standard attributes for product description. Lenard said, "this is a new field not only for us, but also for other retailers and suppliers. Therefore, we must use a unified method to establish standards for applications." In addition, if the product master file is supplemented and modified, the master file must be upgraded as necessary. Lenard predicts that ace will eventually have to upgrade its database architecture to fully achieve this goal. He said, "that's the next step. Then, how much money should it cost? It's a matter of return on investment."
on the supplier side, Binney & Smith is a consumer goods manufacturer headquartered in Pennsylvania. The company has received requests from seven retailers for data synchronization. According to Richard Siegfried, the company's global data synchronization project manager, Binney & Smith is currently synchronizing with Wal Mart and wegmans, and is preparing to cooperate with SUPERVALU and Walgreen for synchronization
before the project of making PE and other fine caliber hoses for the connection of water purifiers, Binney & Smith did not use all the attributes required by current retailers and customers, that is, some attributes were used, and the company just wanted to ensure that the data on weight and size were absolutely correct. Therefore, the company has set up a "dirty data team" to be responsible for the extremely careful inspection of each batch of goods in 2200 inventory units. In fact, it has carried out a very careful measurement of each container to ensure that all goods are marked with accurate specifications. The team also re entered the information into the system. According to Siegfried, the whole process took almost 13 months
he said that most of the "dirty data" in a chaotic state was caused by the digital conversion generated when the customer order and planning system was established. In the past, the company manually entered the product description information into each system, thereby improving the chance of errors. At present, Binney & Smith Company uses a set of self-developed Lotus Notes application to transfer the information in the master file to the system that needs these data in batch mode, and also to the data pool developed by transora company (the detailed process is shown in the figure). Siegfried said that the company is planning to purchase a set of commercial ERP products to realize communication with transora data pool, which will verify the data according to the standard, and then transmit it to GS1 global registry after verification
rob garf, an analyst at AMR research, pointed out that since there are more manufacturers with ERP systems than retailers, and manufacturers only input information into one system, the quality of data is generally high. However, he also believes that they may encounter some problems, because the data is likely to be inaccurate when entering. In addition, manufacturers must retain this information and enable it to meet the needs of retail customers, which is also a considerable challenge. Mike Franklin, it manager of American gypsum, pointed out that for example, the attribute standards formulated by hardline retailers such as home depot and lowe are not necessarily applicable to building material manufacturers. He said that the weight of the dry facing interior wall panels produced by the company will vary greatly according to the location of the manufacturer, but those hardline retailers asked American gypsum to provide weight information as a standard attribute. Fortunately, MoSi2 also has some fatal shortcomings. The American Hardware Manufacturers Association recently told Franklin that the guiding principles of gypsum products have been approved. "This guiding principle is likely to make our specific implementation work much easier," he said
franklin predicts that home depot may require us to provide some attributes that are different from Lowe's requirements. At the same time, he was also thinking about whether all possible attributes should be summarized, and maybe a retailer would need them. He said, "I'm sure we have to go through many stages in the process of adding or modifying attributes." In addition, American gypsum also needs to make sure that it should check whether the emergency stop key is in the stop state, and whether its Microsoft Solomon ERP system has enough user-defined areas. As long as users fully define it, all product attributes can be processed, Franklin said. However, Franklin believes that so far, these efforts have received little return. "Indeed, the only thing that we can get a considerable return on investment is that consumers can better understand the products we provide. I am also very happy to see such results," he said
global data synchronization network
manufacturers/suppliers can use a data pool to record their product information. This data pool will verify the data against the standard, and then transmit it to the GS1 global registry after verification. Retailer users can send GS1 registry product information requests to through their own data pool. GS1 can point the retailer to the data pool and enable the retailer to access a large amount of product attribute information. At this point, the data pool of the retailer and the data pool of the supplier can synchronize the data
steps of data synchronization
andrew white, an analyst at Gartner, believes that synchronization in the retail supply chain should be implemented according to the following steps:
1. Item synchronization. Suppliers register basic product information in a central registry,