Standards Adoption Key to Meeting Consumer Demand

March 8, 2013
Simplification would help users embrace and deploy standards and decrease confusion among consumers.

Wider adoption of standards is key to both supply chain efficiency and meeting new consumer needs, according to a report from Capgemini Consulting, GS1—the global standards organization, and The Consumer Goods Forum. The report, titled “The Future of Standards in the Consumer Goods & Retail Industry: Cut costs and meet new consumer needs,”calls on the industry to introduce simplified programs to help users embrace and deploy standards while enabling provision of standardized product data to consumers.

The results of the study showed that there are numerous challenges regarding standards faced by the industry including:

· Underuse of standards– Compared to large companies, small and medium enterprises have significantly lower rates of standards use, with manual processing frequently the norm. Standards need to be extended to new channels such as e-commerce and affiliated transportation and logistics parties, the report suggests.

· Data available through product barcodes is often missing or inaccurateand not provided in a standardized way across multiple channels.

· Promotions are problematicas they are necessary for sales growth but difficult to forecast demand as retailers are often unwilling to share promotional strategies.

· With the challenge of Big Data, retailers and manufacturers find it difficult to respect standards that require barcode numbers to change every time a product is slightly altered.

· There is increasing scarcity of natural resources but also rising consumer interest in sustainable business, creating the demand for more accurate and consistent information on carbon footprint, water usage, recycling and energy consumption.

Key recommendations of the report are:

· Develop marketing programs targeted toward companies not making full use of standards;

· Introduce simplified standards programs for ease of adoption;

· Use existing standards to communicate product information to consumers;

· Collect sufficient information about product origin and route to market to minimize risk;

· Develop solutions to ensure data quality;

· Design new standards to facilitate the exchange of sustainability related data.

This report was based on in-depth interviews with leaders in supply chain and IT functions of 20 global consumer goods manufacturers and retailers worldwide, across Europe, Asia and North America, including Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart.