COVID times: Relevance of standards in changing retail scenario

Ravi Mathur, CEO, GS1 India

During the times of COVID crisis, there is a need for everyone to maintain social distances and avoid crowded places. Lockdown in the country has accentuated this. This has made consumers shift to e-commerce companies for fulfilling their daily needs, whether it is for groceries or other essential items.

As per news reports, e-commerce platforms in India have seen an increase of 15-20% in Gross Merchandise Value in the lastmonth, with a massive 50% growth in categories such as grocery, health & wellness.


Moreover, with panic buying and hoarding across the supply chain, predicting the consumer demands and maintaining optimum inventories had become challenging for e-commerce companies.


To ensure smooth retail (e-tail) operations in the country, e-commerce companies and brand owners need to have flexible, transparent, and robust supply chains with automated processes. This enables smooth operations in the times of manpower crunch, including efficient and faster despatches, receiving, lesser PO issues, better fill rates of products and ready availability.

First and foundational step to achieve this is unique product identification. Manufacturers / brand owners need to mark their products with GS1 product identification standard (GTIN –Global Trade Item Number) to identify them in an unambiguous and globally unique manner.

GTINs on product labels and carton codes need to be encoded in an automated data capture technology such as barcodes or RFID tags to ensure faster despatched and receiving at stores as well as at the warehouses, besides eliminating the need for manual processes. This also facilitates better inventory and expiry management pf products, resulting in lower pilferages and wastages.

The use of GTINs also enable manufacturers to comply with various buyer and regulatory requirements, besides enabling them to reach to consumers directly with their product information through the Smart Consumer app.

Furthermore, with the use of GS1 India’s DataKart service, manufacturers can manage their product codes and information/product changes at one centralised location and share the same with retailers and e-tailers on a couple of clicks. The same information/product changes will then be populated in respective retailer format, along with product images and dimensions.

This enables buyers (retailers and e-tailers) to update their item masters in real time and hence results in eliminating the problem of wrong purchase orders being generated due to data discrepancies.

Consumers greatly benefit from this as they get consistent, authentic and complete product information across all platforms, enabling them to compare products across platforms, ready availability of products, and ability to make informed purchase decisions.

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