The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) caught up with Ethem Kamanlı, Supply Chain Solutions Director at Migros Ticaret, to talk about his company’s experience in collaborating with the CGF’s End-to-End (E2E) Value Chain initiative and rolling out Product Data Coalition projects in Turkey. Get insights on their experience and how championing Product Data projects has enhanced their operations and strengthened transparency for their customers.  

1. When was the first time you heard about the CGF E2E initiative, and can you recall what specifically triggered your decision to participate?

I have been involved since day 1 at the CGF Leapfrog event, which sparked my interest in collaborating further over the years. 

Deciding to participate in Product Data projects was easy, as I believe it is imperative to have the same unique identifier throughout the supply chain, and it should be backed up with a standard set of attributes, for the sake of consumer transparency. Migros is a brand of trust, and transparency is critical to enhancing that consumer trust and securing their loyalty. I still think that there is a lot of leeway in this area, where results can be accomplished easily. We should envision a future where systems talk to each other using the same terminology and building blocks.

2. Can you elaborate on the plan you developed to present the topic inside your own company? What was the first reaction? What were the obstacles? What to do first? Can you a share a little bit a “high level view” of your roadmap?

When presenting the topic and sharing the details of the Product Data projects at Migros, the first thing to tackle which was essential to the project gaining traction internally, was to clearly showcase its value. Closed loop retailers might not see the real value at first, but making this the building block of product data exchange and coupling it with the Global Data Model (GDM) helps to present the project’s value better.

Our roadmap was:

1. Clearly explain the value
2. Connect to the Verified by GS1 (VbG) system for new items and existing products
3. Set the processes for validating the system
4. Communicate with vendors who would be using the data

Migros also launched a call-to-action in 2007 to brand owners and retailers in Turkey to kick-off data transparency initiatives in the country, under the leadership of our CEO.  We conducted multiple workshops with major FMCG brand owners and retailers to establish the Turkish data model, along with GS1 projects.  We also clearly stated our intent, with a written communique to our brand owners, for the steps that we aimed to take.

Naturally, some challenges arose along the way, of which the biggest for the vendors was to remember the GTIN allocation rules.

Walking the talk is also important in these projects, so we decided to lead by example with our private label/own brand products.  We aggregated all the VbG data for these products and uploaded the data onto GS1 systems. 

I would definitely emphasise the main things to do first: Review and understand the GTIN allocation rules, list the specific benefits of the projects for the different stakeholders in your organisation, and nail down the different data repositories within your company.

3. In hindsight, which was the most convincing argument that supported your endeavour with regard to the impact on current processes in your company? Any “lessons learned” you can share with us?

The most convincing argument was without a doubt highlighting the value of the GDM for consumer transparency, and using GTIN Ubiquity and VbG as the building block for it.

We, as a retailer, are the medium to convey the brand owners’ data to the consumer, for the sake of consumer transparency.

As mentioned before, this is a process that can be easily accomplished without any human intervention, as long as you set the building blocks and the adequate critical control points.

4. The CGF prioritises collaborative approaches. In your view, how does the value created for you personally and your company depend on your business partners following suit?

The collaborative approach championed by the CGF is indeed critical, and in our experience with participating companies, the collaboration was incredible. Now, we just need more members to opt in.

Consumer transparency problems are pre-competitive issues.  We require similar attributes from our vendors, in duplicate processes.  If we decide to simplify this process for the sake of consumer transparency, we create a much leaner process for the brand owners.

It is also encouraging to see that we are not alone in this journey.  Seeing that our counterparts in retailers and brand owners are dealing with the same issues, it is much more practical to produce an applicable solution for the industry.

5. E2E initiatives and solutions aim at producing more and better options for the industry. Once you successfully implemented parts of this CGF-led package, what changed for you and your teams? Could you list the most noticeable changes before and after?

This is a question too soon to answer, however I am confident that I’ll be able to expand on this based on journey and lessons learned in the near future.

6. A basic requirement for a successful CGF E2E Value Chain product and solution is that it needs to be self-explanatory and ‘fly on its own’. Do you foresee everybody else picking it up automatically, driven by the same recognition of the value it promises?

Yes. No one wants to be the only one, but if we drive the momentum right, and reach to a tipping point, I think the industry will follow. It is not hard and complicated as it seems. In order for companies to exchange data, we can leave it up to the system to do it without human intervention – the value in this alone is clear. 

There is a Turkish idiom with the literal translation: ‘water will eventually find its path’.  As long as we create the building blocks, rules and processes that simplify day-to-day work and increase data quality, we will get there. 

7. If somebody asks you tomorrow if your time was well spent on this, what would you say?

It is safe to say that our time spent was definitely well spent. However, it could have been faster. It is a work in progress and a truly global journey, and from our retailer perspective, we recommend fellow industry players to jump on board.  This is still a work in progress, but up to this point, the actual change in our internal processes and IT infrastructure was much easier than anticipated.

Find out more about the CGF Product Data Coalition

This interview was conducted with:

Ethem Kamanlı
Supply Chain Solutions Director
Migros Ticaret