The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is delighted to share this edition of 7 Questions Away, contributed by Andrea Schlossarek, Director, Corporate Master Data Management, METRO AG. She shares her views on how the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) Ubiquity project is unfolding at her company and the power of collaborating with other members from CGF’s End-to-End (E2E) Value Chain Initiative and Product Data Coalition projects.  

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

For me, as the person responsible for master data at METRO, the quality and uniqueness of GTIN has always been very relevant to me, on a personal level. It seeks to ensure all physical products have a unique identifier, which is crucial not only across different companies and markets, but also within each company. I was lucky to have a CEO who was a Chairman of the CGF’s Board Retail College at the time when the CEOs agreed that solving the data quality issues would be their common priority. This E2E initiative started not only a revolution in the market, but also gave us a lot of support that we needed internally.

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?

We were fortunate to have the attention from top management. The understanding of GTIN penetration and quality was not embedded into the daily life of METRO, as we, as many others, do not have GTIN as the primary key. For us, the first step was to review the quality of GTINs of our own brands and act on the cases where GTIN allocation rules were not observed – having the correct data is crucial. Our roadmap focuses on first working in those countries where Global Registry (Verified by GS1) is ready and GTINs are active. We also prioritise the common sourcing of our own flagship brands, followed by local ones.

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?

If you don’t have the right GTIN, you cannot exchange the right data. It is like a person and his/her ID or passport. Product data management is complex; to get the GTIN plus six attributes right, on all items, is a challenge for every company. But it is worth it, because it eases commercial exchanges, allows proper management between retailers and their suppliers, and reduces errors. It is an investment into efficiency improvement.

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?

Without collaboration on this project, we cannot achieve anything. It’s important to break silos and speak the same language, internally and externally. We have been connecting with not only our suppliers, but also our competitors, to validate the data, and we plan to prove tangible benefits by the end of 2021.

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?

We partnered with Nestlé and Procter & Gamble on Product Data pilot projects, and we have learned that solving the GTIN match not only improves data management but also improves the business relationships and operational processes on both sides. We will now continue with our CGF partners and companies active in GS1, but the target is an aligned assortment with all suppliers – with high data quality and the same data content and quality as our suppliers’ intent.

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?

Unfortunately, not automatically. You need to understand the master data complexity to understand the value. We’ve seen the benefits first-hand, in each market. I think the value will be understood more broadly as soon as the first markets tip to at least 50% of the implementation.

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

Not a single doubt! This project can seem small, but it can revolutionise trade if successfully implemented. This of course depends on its roll-out, and increased participation of more retailers and CPGs. Our plan is to demonstrate the benefits on the key markets with CGF companies and thereby lead the other companies on those markets by example.

Find out more about the CGF Product Data Coalition

This interview was conducted with:

Andrea Schlossarek
Director, Corporate Master Data Management