With the December 13th deadline for the EU1169/2011 regulation fast approaching, there is a lot discussion and buzz around GS1s, manufacturers as well as retailers on exploring the best options to get their product data online, display product data as per the regulations and also making it available to retailers, consumers and third parties that may need to access the product data.
The Food Information to Consumers Regulation EU1169 especially with the deadline is creating a sense of urgency and is being seen by many stakeholders from the point of view of ensuring “compliance” or find a way to comply with the new regulations and get it out of the way. However, in a bid to understand and meet the compliance as efficiently and painlessly as possible, manufacturers and retailers may not look at the actual reasons and need for product data aggregation and delivery. And, that’s where there is a very strong and very real advantage in aggregating and making available, accurate product data.
E-commerce is very rapidly becoming a massive force to reckon with in retail globally. The fact that Alibaba.com clocked in $1 billion in sales in the first 19 minutes of their ‘singles day sale’ in China and ended the day with $9.3 billion in gross sales is a testimony to the sheer weight online shopping carries with today’s Internet-connected mobile internet-connected. Undoubtedly, e-commerce and online sales will also have an impact on the food and beverage industry and manufacturers, brands and stakeholders within the sector need to start looking at the psyche of the online consumer and how they ascertain trust online.
Information plays a critical role and so far, product information largely originates with users who put up product information online and share it….not the manufacturers who should be best placed to publish information about their products.
As a result, the users continue to control that conversation accurate or not. For example, if a consumer picks up box of cake mix off the supermarket shelf and doesn’t find enough data on saturated fats (since that is something this shopper is conscious about), the first instinct would likely be to Google the product and pick the top results that talk about saturated fat content in the cake mix. Now, that result could be a forum discussion among other users or a blog post by someone who really didn’t like the cake mix. The bottom line is, the shopper couldn’t get the information from the packaging or the manufacturer so they turned to data posted by third-party sources accurate or not.
Product data aggregation or using a data aggregator to upload lots of product data may seem like a daunting task at this point given the tight deadlines, worries about regulation compliance and even the logistics of coordinating between technology providers, GS1s, manufacturers, retailers, and others. However, a key point to remember is, this is also an opportunity to gear up for the changes in the way people are buying both online and offline. Once the data is verified and uploaded into an aggregator there are opportunities to use that data and decide how best to deliver is to e-commerce sites, to online retailers, to mobile devices and onto packaging. It’s an opportunity to improve consumer trust, protect a brands reputation and create data sources which will propel the next phase of retail where being able to access information on what one is buying is second nature.
So the next time you’re discussing EU1169, look beyond the compliance and you may just find it’s a step in the right direction at a time when manufacturers need to be able to control their product data and the information their customers read in an increasingly information-driven world.