While more retailers and their suppliers are connecting through web-based supply chain systems, a big challenge remains in extending these connections to suppliers who are unprepared to invest in the necessary data integration systems. But connecting small companies is not as difficult as many think it is, Andy Musliner, vice president of business development for Commerce One Inc., tells Internet Retailer.
A growing number of large retailers and suppliers are participating in an effort to synchronize product codes through UCCnet, a non-profit data standards organization that is part of the Uniform Code Council. Supply chain technology experts say UCCnet data synchronization can sharply reduce the time it takes to implement integrated supply chain connections, while providing for faster and smoother ways of updating product specifications recorded by both manufacturers and the retailers that sell their products.
But while interest in these data synchronization efforts is growing, broad-scale implementation is proceeding slowly. "Many suppliers don’t know how to do it," Musliner says.
Musliner says many suppliers with an interest in data synchronization shy away from implementing it out of concerns that it’s too costly and takes too long to implement. But these companies can be brought into data synchronization in a gradual method that is often less costly and faster to implement than many companies expect, he adds.
For example, Commerce One, one of several technology providers allied with UCCnet to help companies get on board with data synchronization, provides an Express Start program that costs less than $25,000 and can be implemented in 8 to 10 weeks, Musliner says.
He adds that a supplier can minimize the cost of data synchronization by using a service like Express Start to synchronize product codes on its most strategic product categories, such as those it sells to its most important retailers.