European Retailers, Manufacturers Collaborate on Data Synch

Major players in sector bring suppliers together to advance global data synchronization, work with WorldWide Retail Exchange

Major players in sector bring suppliers together to advance global data synchronization, work with WorldWide Retail Exchange

Paris, France — June 23, 2004 — A group of European retailers has come together to advance the cause of data synchronization on the Continent and to throw their support behind retail sector B2B exchange WWRE.

The retailers — Auchan, Casino, Delhaize Group, El Corte Ingles, Royal Ahold and Tesco — held a meeting in Brussels recently for 16 of their key suppliers to collaborate on plans to advance global data synchronization (GDS), and this week the companies announced their plans to work with the WWRE's Worldwide Item Management (WIM) solution to make GDS a working reality.

WWRE members had publicly announced their plans to use the WWRE as their home data pool at the recent "Efficient Consumer Response" (ECR) conference in Belgium. ECR Europe is a joint trade and industry body working to make the grocery sector as a whole more responsive to consumer demand and promote the removal of unnecessary costs from the supply chain.

Pierre-Olivier Beckers, president and CEO of Delhaize Group, said his company has selected the WWRE's WIM solution as its global data pool and, therefore, the entry point for all information concerning the items sold in its stores. "WIM will interconnect with all data pools containing the item information of our suppliers, both global and local," Beckers said. "We believe that this approach will simplify and accelerate the rollout of data synchronization as it will avoid our global suppliers having to deliver the item information directly in each country where we operate."

Beckers emphasized that his company views an integrated supply chain approach as key to Delhaize's performance, and he tied data synch efforts to the introduction of such new technologies as radio frequency identification (RFID). "We must complete the implementation of data synchronization so that Delhaize will have the ability for a large scale roll-out of RFID," he said.

At the latest Brussels meeting, the WWRE members echoed Beckers' thoughts as they discussed their GDS plans, timelines and expectations with their suppliers. Although retailer readiness for GDS has historically been an issue with suppliers, attendees at this meeting got a sense of retailer readiness and the seriousness of their desire to move forward with GDS projects in 2004.

"Casino is on the way to achieving a major step in its data synch strategy by introducing the WWRE as a single entry point to its internal systems," said Jacques-Edouard Charret, general manager of Casino. "As a result, all data product files proposed by our suppliers will be synchronized through the WWRE, whether the supplier is a WWRE customer or is using a catalog provider like Catalogic, Equadis or Vertical Wine."

Charret continued: "The WWRE will improve data quality within the industry and assist suppliers in this new way of working together. Furthermore, we believe the WWRE is a major influence for enhancing data model and synchronization standards worldwide."

"The WWRE continues to be the most comprehensive and cost effective solution available for suppliers to meet the requirements of our retailers," asserted Jerome Kuehn, European director for the WWRE. "Because of our continued focus on implementing the most up-to-date standards, provisioning of best practices and shared industry knowledge, the WWRE WIM solution will act as the single point of entry to the Global Data Synchronization Network for many of its retail members."

Kuehn suggested that the WWRE enables companies to adopt GDS faster, helping to overcome the inevitable challenges of implementation and therefore driving critical mass in the marketplace.

For a look at how Canadian company McCain Foods is overcoming data synchronization challenges in its supply and demand chain, see the article "Building a 'Trusted Source'" in the April/May 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.