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What Is the GDSN Network?

Salsify | May 14, 2018

The Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) is an extremely important tool for trading partners when it comes to efficient and secure sharing of product information. The GDSN is composed of a network of interconnected data pools that trading partners may use to share information while retaining data quality.

Developed by GS1 (Global Standards), the GDSN is constantly updated to match the current standards of product information sharing. These attributes can be used by trading partners to share crucial information with retailers such as:

  • logistics
  • shipping
  • regulatory

The efficiency of GDSN lies in its protocols, such as its syncing. For example, data pools can easily sync information with valid attributes defined on your end and the retailer's end. Rather than only having the valid attributes that you have defined to the item, retailers are able to sync those items once more in order to capture the subsets of item's associated attributes that might not have been caught in the first sync.

The continuous flow of information and its update ensures that both you and the retailer always have the correct information without fear of data quality.

1World Sync (1WS)

A GS1 certified GDSN data pool, this is one avenue by which customers submitting information to GDSN may do so. Salsify is a certified solution provider with 1World Sync, making it a smooth process from the customer end as well as the retailer end. Having this option allows customers to streamline the links existing between brands, retailers, and ultimately the consumer without compromising the quality of the shopping experience.

Rich product content is an integral part of the shopping experience, and the availability of 1World Sync makes that far easier for customers to achieve and improve the shopping experience for consumers.

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What Do I Need To Know About GDSN?

First and foremost, the data flow and hierarchy that GDSN maintains what attributes are included within that. Take the example of one widget that is sold to a consumer in a package. In the lowest level of the hierarchy, a Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN) identifies the unit, logistical information such packaging, dimensions, and weight - i.e. all the details a retailer needs in order to sell the product.

However, if that widget is sold to the store in a case that contains multiple units, inner case, and other confusing variables, what then? There are separate product values that identify the components of the case separately. This entails a GTIN for the case, its weight and dimensions, and a separate set of information for the inner case and reduces confusion.

If the cases are sold by the pallet, then there is a separate set of information that describes the pallet. What it boils down to is that there are multiple sets of information available that ensure that nothing is lost in the process and that retailers and companies are able to sell their products seamlessly to consumers without getting bogged down in internal mishaps.

However, this seamlessness is only possible if the right data is being used. The data flow starts with your internal data and moves from there. For example, it would be imported to Salsify, where it is stored and transformed to meet the GS1 requirements in order to send to GDSN.

Our Customer Success teams work with companies to help prepare their products to deliver the required attributes, meet validation requirements as well as set up the retailers that will receive the published data. Attribute identification will involve defining a list of attributes needed by you and your trading partner and are usually based on a mix of industry-specific and retailer-specific readiness reports as well as your specific retailers' needs.

Once the products are ready, companies are able to publish validated product details through Salsify to reach 1WS. Once reached, the information is sent to the data pool and to retailers through the global registry.

Who Uses GDSN?

Major retailers such as Kroger, Lowes, and Amazon - just to name a few. This adoption of GDSN allows companies, consumers, and retailers to benefit from automated content delivery and its rewards. It allows for efficient digital optimization, thereby lowering times for new experiences to get online and attract consumers.

For example, Amazon's integration with GDSN allows brands to publish almost all Amazon attributes via GDSN for refreshing existing ASINs. This allows a far wider reach in terms of audience, without tying up a large number of resources. Ultimately, this form of automated content delivery allows brands to build an airtight digital optimization process and allows new, testable experiences to get online a lot faster.

The automation and testable experience work hand-in-hand. Use these both as learning tools to understand how your resources are being used, what content is working (especially for Amazon, where it might differ than other retailers), and where the consumer experience can be improved. Use that time to really delve deep into your brand and how content can transform the GDSN experience if leveraged correctly.

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Who Should Manage GDSN Processes?

Successful GDSN processes require a deep understanding how product content richness can improve sales. While some companies choose to assign everything to IT, or Supply Chain that might not always be the most prudent decision.

Ownership should actually be decided by responsibilities rather than department since it involves much more than just simple updates and logistics. GDSN is what allows companies to be nimble and effective, so the division of responsibility should match that. In a previous post, we highlighted some of the ways we have seen our agile customers divide up responsibility, but here is a quick overview.

Rather than think about it as one long chain, think of GDSN as a series of steps towards a larger end goal of driving more sales. Logistics content should rest with supply chain since that is where the institutional knowledge lies. For non-logistics content, we recommend working with a partner who understands the nuances only because the requirements are so varied. While some of the content can be mapped to GDD attributes and subsequently transmitted via GDSN, that is only a minimum amount of what is required.

Mapping internal contents to what each GDSN retailer needs should not be a solo effort, but rather a team effort between eCommerce, sales, and logistics. Companies have chosen different ways to assign ownership amongst these teams, and that will likely depend on the structure of your team but these are the departments that must be involved.

For best practices when it comes to the publishing of content, we recommend leveraging a machine-to-machine solution rather than employing a messy system of spreadsheet downloads and uploads. Ideally, content hubs should have built-in capabilities for GDSN publication. For example, Salsify has a direct integration with 1WorldSync's data pool in order to keep publishing simple and easy without compromising data quality.

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