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To help more small retail industry suppliers synchronize their product codes with those of retailers, Extol International launched today a $2,500 tool designed to let small companies connect their data with UCCnet’s web-based Global Registry.
To help more small retail industry suppliers synchronize their product codes with those of retailers, Extol International launched today a $2,500 tool designed to let small companies connect their data with UCCnet’s web-based Global Registry. The scaled-down version of Extol’s UCCnet Synchronization Suite targets small suppliers who have yet to participate with retailers using the Global Registry, says Extol vice president of marketing Steven Rosen.
The application, which costs about $40,000 in its full-scale version, is intended for companies with up to 25 GTIN-coded products who don’t want to invest in a complete application, Rosen says. The full-scale version is designed to automatically integrate synchronized product data with a supplier’s back-end software, including inventory records. The automated integration lets the supplier avoid physically entering new product information when, for instance, a retailer says it no longer wants to receive delivery of a particular product. But many smaller suppliers aren’t concerned about the chore of entering data for a small number of products and so have balked at investing in full-scale synchronization applications, Rosen says.
A GTIN, or global trading identification number, is a new international code that retailers and suppliers are expected to begin using in January 2005 in order to have standardized method of processing products from throughout the world. By synchronizing supplier and retailer data, companies provide for a greater degree of accuracy in inventory records, purchase orders, invoices and other forms of data records and communications, experts say.
Analysts say Extol is helping to fill a definite need among small retail suppliers. "There absolutely needs to be a low-cost scaled down model for smaller manufacturers," says Kara Romanow, analyst with AMR Research Inc. "Most smaller manufacturers don’t have the complexity in their applications where they would require an internal data repository – they often don’t have the one-version-of-the-truth problem. So they wouldn’t necessarily need to integrate their UCCnet solution with their back-end applications – except to feed data if it changes frequently.
Romanow notes that, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other major retailers have mandated that their top 100 vendors become synchronized with UCCnet standards, there are thousands of smaller retailers who could be left behind. "The top 100 are only 100, but Wal-Mart has 21,000 suppliers," she says. "So there are lots of smaller vendors who need to get their data to UCCNet and their retail partners."
The Extol application is designed so that product managers see a list of their products on a web page with a series of red and green marks next to each item. A green mark identifies items that have been checked to have the same codes and data format as those used by a retailer; a red mark identifies those that need to be changed. The system is designed to automatically block any attempts by a product manager to update the Global Registry with incorrect or red-marked product listings; simultaneously, it will automatically send an e-mail alert notifying a supervisor of the discrepancy, Rosen says.
UCCnet currently has 2,800 companies signed up for the Global Registry, including about 700 in full production, a spokesman says.