17 March 2005 | David Arminas
Purchasers in the retail and food sectors can reduce the volume of returned and out-of-stock items with a new catalogue management system, GS1 UK Data Pool.
Data Pool has been set up by Udex, supply chain firm GXS, and GS1 UK, a corporate membership organisation that sets standards for trading data.
The system ensures suppliers keep their product information up to date so consignments always match purchasers' orders, according to Robin Howe, chief executive of Udex, which monitors the accuracy of the business data information for Data Pool.
"Suppliers sometimes change dimensions of products or quantity of contents without notifying purchasers," said Howe.
"Cutting down on out-of-stock items can add around 1 per cent to a company's annual sales."
Any system that helps retailers cut down on returns should be welcomed, said Trevor Kitching, director of ACS Supply Chain Consultancy.
"The returns issue goes further than changing the size of a can of beans," he said.
"Changing a cardboard container of beans, even from 16 cans to 12, is likely to mean a different container size and because shelf space is often geared to this specific measurement for quick stocking this can cause problems.
"Retailers don't want staff taking extra time to unpack more containers in aisles filled with shoppers trying to buy goods."
The so-called "awkwards" - boxes of unexpected dimensions - can sit around for days in back rooms, and sales are lost to both retailer and manufacturer.
The annual cost to retailers of GS1 UK Data Pool is between £250 and £6,500, depending on their company turnover.