On the business side of data visibility, particularly as it relates to traceability, GS1 US has been working on providing implementation guidance for critical tracking events and key data elements, continues Fernandez.
“The romaine lettuce outbreaks we saw last year really put an increased focus on this,” she notes. “The other thing moving this along is the industry’s interest in blockchain, which many organizations, including Walmart, are leading the charge to more fully explore the traceability use case. Standards provide interoperability between brand and retailer systems, help ensure data quality, and are foundational to blockchain applications.”
GS1 US is also providing a new online interactive tool to help suppliers and wholesaler/distributors understand what supply chain data they need to capture, and in what format it should be captured, in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak, she says.
Gartner’s Griswold notes that while master data management certainly “isn’t sexy,” companies that skip the process of collecting the right data and properly analyzing it won’t be able to go further with blockchain or other exciting technologies that provide so much promise for the retail supply chain.
“Kroger and Walmart have invested in labs and people, and they’re doing a lot of their own research and development, trying to understand through the vastness of the customer data that they have what customers want and how to deliver against that,” he notes.
- Delving Into Data
While the big chain stores often get more press about their supply chain innovation, several regional grocery retailers have been taking a closer look at supply chain data to solve common challenges in the industry:
- Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets has taken a lead on seafood sustainability by participating in the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s (SFP) Ocean Disclosure Project, which promotes supply chain transparency. The retailer works with SFP to collect and analyze data that helps it give customers “the very best sustainably sourced seafood,” according to Guy Pizzuti, category manager of seafood at Publix. The data also helps the company identify fisheries with room for improvement.
- Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle participated in a Trading Partner Alliance pilot with Coca-Cola and Land O’Lakes to better understand and reduce dwell times. Advisors at McKinsey and Co. and Four Kites were also involved in the project. The companies evaluated data from select warehouses on a weekly basis for six months, and met to come up with new ideas and solutions. They considered factors such as physical attributes in the yard, technology for drivers and warehouse staff, manpower use and shift alignment, and scheduled loads. One of the major takeaways from the pilot was that they could create 2 percent to 4 percent additional capacity by improving the dwell time within their control.