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Wal-Mart pushing data synchronization network

It wants its RFID-enabled suppliers to join up

By Marc L. Songini
January 2, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is looking to improve data accuracy in its far-flung supply chain by using the fledgling Global Data Synchronization Network. To that end, the retailer set a Jan. 1 deadline for its RFID-enabled suppliers to start using the Web-based GDSN technology so they can more quickly exchange timely and accurate supply chain data.

GDSN, supported by major companies and industry groups worldwide, relies on certified databases containing product information that can be shared among companies and their partners.

In October, Wal-Mart sent out a letter to its suppliers urging them to join with a GDSN data pool by the January deadline. That, according to the directive, was only a first step: The retailer wants its suppliers to clean up their data as well.

Wal-Mart, in its letter, said that the GDSN is no longer a "bleeding edge" technology but is "now a mature solution providing tangible benefits for retailers and suppliers." Among the benefits expected are improved purchase order accuracy, fewer administrative errors, better supplies of stock and greater speed in getting product onto the shelves.

Wal-Mart last month confirmed that it had issued the letter, but it has declined to offer any additional information on the program or on how many of its suppliers are currently participating.

"We see GDSN as a key strategy for exchanging item information between suppliers and retailers," a Wal-Mart spokesman said via an e-mail statement. "Accurate, timely item information drives efficiencies for both, as well as reducing costs in the supply chain. As noted in the letter, Wal-Mart has been engaged in GDSN for several years. We're ramping up the program to encourage more suppliers to join."  

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