GDSN Launched for Global E-Business

Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble will soon begin testing an Internet-based supply chain initiative for retailers and manufacturers to translate information into common set of XML schema.

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Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble are among the enterprises that will soon start testing the GDSN (Global Data Synchronization Network), an Internet-based supply chain initiative launched Thursday for streamlined communication of product information.

GDSN is a collaborative effort between the UCC (Uniform Code Council), original overseers of product bar-code information, and EAN International, another international standards group.

The new network will implement XML to improve the interchange of product information among the various "data pools" used by retailers and manufacturers around the world, said David Garcia, vice president of marketing at Transora, one of GDSNs supply chain partners.

"You can think of a data pool as a database with additional applications around it," Garcia said in an interview.

Under the GDSN initiative, the data pools are translating information that might be received from suppliers and retailers in any of a number of formats—including XML, EDI and Microsoft Excel spreadsheet formats—into a common set of XML schema, said Bobby Patrick, senior vice president of marketing at Global eXchange Services (GXS).

The new GDSN registry—known as the GS1 Global Registry—was put into production Aug. 1 by EAN International.

Just prior to GDSNs launch, Transora, GXS and five other data pools successfully passed a "proof of concept" pilot that began in June. In the pilot, participants tested their translated data for interoperability with the directory as well as with other data pools.

But beyond these seven, some data pools that took part in the pilot did not pass the test, Patrick said.

Ultimately, data pools that comply with GDSNs specifications will be able to cut the surcharges customers now pay when data is sent to out-of-network data pools, according to Garcia. "The goal is to reduce the numbers of custom connections," he added.

GDSN participants are also eyeing easier inventory control through near-real-time database synchronization.

Transora will soon start testing GDSN with Wal-Mart and P&G, Garcia said. Other Transora customers include Kroger, Publix, Kraft, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Hormel Foods.

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Beyond operating its own data pool in the United States, GXS also offers data pool technology and services to several other data pools worldwide.

GXS is looking at testing GDSN with ECCnet in Canada and with e.centre in the United Kingdom, and possibly with additional international partners, too, according to Patrick.

Other data pools that successfully passed this summers initial GDSN interoperability test included UCCnet, Sterling Commerce, bTrade Inc., CABASnet and the WorldWide Retail Exchange.

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