May 13, 2005, 12:00 AM

UCCnet and Transora agree to merge

In a move intended to push more retailers and suppliers toward a trade-supporting global system of sharing information, product data synchronization services UCCnet and Transora have agreed to merge, the two organizations said today.

 

In a move intended to push more retailers and suppliers toward a trade-supporting global system of synchronized product data, UCCnet and Transora have agreed to merge, the two organizations said today.

“By joining forces, we would make it even easier for retailers and manufacturers to establish a common approach for data synchronization that benefits all,” said Transora CEO Bob Noe, who would become CEO of the new company.

The merger should be a positive development for the retail industry, because it would bring together many of the major companies – including UCCnet members Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Wegmans Food Markets Inc. – involved in working toward common data standards, says Kara Romanow, analyst at AMR Research Inc. “It’s a good overall step in the right direction,” she says.

The merger, subject to the approval of the boards of directors of both organizations and by the shareholders of Transora, comes amid several other developments in efforts to get retailers and manufacturers to synchronize product data to facilitate faster, more accurate and more complex sharing of information. The ultimate goals include getting the right products to the right stores in time to satisfy customer demand, resulting in higher prices and margins while reducing the costs of communications between retailer and supplier.

UCCnet’s parent, the Uniform Code Council Inc., is the leading U.S. organization setting data standards for the Internet-based Global Data Synchronization Network. UCC will change its name next month to GS1 US, the US counterpart of GS1 in Europe, which is comprised of the organization formerly known as EAN International. The GDSN supports a global network of data pools where retailers and suppliers can list data on their company profiles as well as their product catalogs. Because the data is being synchronized under common descriptions, participating companies are expected to be able to share information faster and more accurately.

But the merger also raises several questions, Romanow says. For example, Transora currently offers three popular data services – direct-store-delivery distribution of pricing information to retail chains, pricing promotion data, and new-item introductions – that have yet to be established with common data standards, and it remains to be seen what effect Transora’s being under the UCC umbrella would have the development of standards for those services. If the merger is approved, Transora and UCCnet would operate as a subsidiary of UCC/GS1.

The proposed merger follows the recent merger of the WorldWide Retail Exchange and GlobalNetXchange, which together also offer data synch services as well as supply chain collaboration and other services. Romanow said that closer cooperation between WWRE/GNX and UCCnet/Transora on developing a common data synch system would benefit the retail industry, but the organizations have not announced such plans.

The new organization would have operations in the United States, Europe, Mexico and South America and would represent leading retailers and manufacturers, including: Wal-Mart, Wegmans, SuperValu, PepBoys, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Gillette, Hormel Foods, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Sara Lee, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Kraft, and Johnson & Johnson, among others.

 

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