If your head spins like a vortex when you hear the terms MR3 or MjR3, you’re not alone. From attributes and valid values, to validation rules and data migration, deciphering the Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN) Major Release 3 (MR3) is like a neverending ride on a roller coaster. While you’ll likely continue to experience dizziness after reading this post, my goal is to simplify the mandate for you.
10 Years and Counting
The GDSN’s last Major Release took place in 2005. While still fully functioning, the GDSN wasn’t originally designed to meet today’s regulatory and digital asset requirements, including the Food & Drug Administration’s Unique Device Identification (UDI) rule or the European EU1169 mandate. The GDSN’s next Major Release, slated for May 2016, is a non-backwards compatible upgrade to the standard. The current communications protocols and rules in place today, including the synchronization of your data with 1WorldSync, will no longer work after the identified timeframe.
The purpose of MR3 is to bring flexibility to every business in every sector, increase efficiency and better support regulatory directives. In short, MR3 is an update to the GDSN standard, targeted to increase efficiencies in implementing changes and position itself for future requirements and industry initiatives. These changes have been driven by GDSN supplier and trading partner communities and include support for new attributes, restructuring of existing attributes to better align with business needs and improvement in the format for GDSN XML messages.
Some of the current GDSN limitations in adopting global change and flexibility have resulted in retailers adding their own attribute requirements to the existing standard. An example impacting many organizations is The Kroger Company’s Program Mercury, a multiyear project that requires suppliers to provide non-GDSN data to Kroger in support of their own product portfolio. After registering a GTIN and its associated attributes at their data pool, suppliers are also required to top off data via the Kroger Vendor Item Portal. The GDSN architecture wasn’t flexible enough to account for Kroger extended attribute requirements so they built their own portal. MR3 has been designed to rapidly add attributes and rules by industry and product class to position the GDSN to handle expanded attribute requirements.
Consumer expectations in a digital world have also driven the requirement for expanded GDSN functionality. A consumer expects to be able to check ingredients, allergens, calories and product details from any device as if they were at the store. If information supplied via the web is incorrect or unavailable, this can have an impact on the bottom line through loss of sales or via customer satisfaction. There are also dangers to consumers with allergies if attribute details posted via the web are inconsistent or incorrect.
MR3 Business Benefits
The objective of MR3 is to make the adoption of GDSN standards easier, improve the quality of global product data and provide the following outcomes:
- Flexible, Responsive Framework – The GDSN framework improvements enable changes in response to regulatory requirements and market demands to be introduced more quickly.
- Industry-specific Support – Provides flexibility and relaxed validations based on custom requirements for each industry.
- Increased Speed-to-Market – The initial set of information can be identified as preliminary for new products that have not yet been produced, to enable faster item setup, more available information and better buying decisions by merchants.
- Streamlined Data Entry – Restructuring of attribute sets and requirements allow for simplified implementation of common use cases.
- Data Quality Control – Regulatory compliance requirements to simplify the process of exchanging product risk information, like hazardous materials, nutritional information and FDA mandates across trading partner communities around the world.
The Impact of MR3 on Your Business
There are four core areas impacted by MR3 – attributes, valid values, validation rules and data migration. The following section provides an overview of each of these areas:
The Downstream Effects
Approximately 40 percent, or 1,182, of the GDSN’s total attributes will be impacted with MR3. Please find these attributes broken into specific categories below, followed by examples:
A challenge we hear frequently is retailers are putting more pressure on manufacturers to send product data in advance of when they (the manufacturer) are ready to provide it. We all know a case size in development will likely differ than the actual case size produced. To address this issue, MR3 has introduced a Preliminary Trade Item as a new category that can be used for “subject to change” items. This new category allows manufacturers to get the GTIN into the supply chain and to retailers much faster, and removes the pain of modifying the GTIN once the product becomes available.
While a number of new values are being introduced, many business decisions will have to be made. As an example, 16 nutritional attributes are currently free-form – you can enter whatever value your organization has assigned for the particular item – but will be moving to a valid value list you must select from. One of the many challenges organizations participating in the GDSN will face is reassigning values to the 49 deprecated values that will no longer exist after May 2016.
Additionally, MR3 has redefined validation rules and will be introducing 224 new rules. An example is a new rule stating an item’s smallest measurement cannot be smaller than its child from a height, depth and width perspective.
1WorldSync will be making automated modifications to attributes that reside in the data pool and these attributes will automatically be published to trading partners. These will apply when consistent rules can be related to a specific attribute.
Suppliers will also need to evaluate their Impact Analysis reports from 1WorldSync to evaluate attributes that require a manual plan to be put into place, by the participating organization, before May 2016.
One of the reasons for MR3 is to allow business rules to be applied to specific business segments instead of the entire market. These segments are referred to as Context and break products down into building blocks with the Brick being the lowest level.
A graphical representation of Contexts can be seen below:
It’s Not Too Late
Failing to prepare for MR3 will result in severe consequences such as lost revenue, the inability to meet retailer and trading partner requirements and loss of synchronized product data. Organizations, whether participating in the GDSN or seeking to in the future, should pursue counsel or engage with a qualified MR3 solution partner.
In order to prepare for MR3, we recommend the following:
- Participate in sessions being conducted by your data pool provider. 1WorldSync runs frequent education sessions and has a website dedicated to these details.
- Analyze the impact report from 1WorldSync or your data pool to visual the attributes and GTINs changing with MR3.
- Find a solution partner like LANSA to assist you in integrating these MR3 changes with your internal systems to automate publication and validation moving forward.