The future of Wholesalers will be determined by how much they improve their capabilities in wholesale e-commerce… that’s what a recent report by the Federation of Wholesale Distribution suggests.
In “2019 Future of UK Food & Drink Wholesaling”, the FWD sets out that the speedy advancement of technology and changes in consumers buying habits are set to disrupt the world of food and drinks over the next decade. Consequently, they’re urging Wholesalers to invest in technology to improve efficiency as businesses become increasingly mobile and virtual.
Now here’s the important bit – Barcodes (also called GTINS) play a starring role in enhancing digital experiences within foodservice, and Erudus are here to not only help you understand how important they are, but also to explain how they work to your benefit.
What is a GTIN?
First off, GTIN simply stands for “global trade identification number” – every single product has one, a set of unique numbers that reveals all kinds of extensive information about things like pack size, product imagery and nutritional information (to name but a few).
Think of GTINS like human DNA, your unique genetic code makes up who you are as an individual – you’re unique because of your DNA. Products are unique because of their GTINS, and it’s the GTINs that allow businesses across the whole foodservice industry to universally communicate product data speedily and seamlessly. GTINs give the product a traceable history and lifecycle, of which every process can be tracked, thus resulting in less data errors.
GTINs can vary in length depending on the type of product and where the product comes from, but one thing they all have in common is that they form the backbone of foodservice supply chains.
How will GTINs help my business?
As the food service landscape develops, consumers are craving more information than ever before – consumers want to know the whole life cycle of their products.
The need for supply chain transparency is now imperative, and traceability is integral to achieving it.
Online and mobile ordering has become the norm for caterers – 82% are now regularly ordering online*, increasing the need for product information such as the number of portions in a product, pack size information, and allergen data. Barcodes are essential to obtaining all of this information, information which Wholesalers will be expected to provide across multiple channels.
Martyn Simpson, Castell Howel’s New Product Administrator explains just how necessary barcodes are for the smooth running of their business. “Product barcodes are essential to Castell Howell. We use a voice activated goods inwards and picking system, so the barcode acts as the key identifier for the product, and if a product arrives without a barcode it can cause staff uncertainty, delays in the system and worse still errors in picking customer orders. To us a barcode is a fundamental basic requirement in modern food wholesaling”.
The key benefits of GTINs
Using GTINs, Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Caterers can access accurate product information from anywhere in the world, helping to prevent major and minor errors within business.
We’ll use an example to demonstrate…
Let’s imagine we have 2 identical “Erudus Soup Pouches” – but one has been manufactured in Newcastle and one has been manufactured in Cardiff.
The factory in Newcastle poses a risk of cross-contamination for Nuts, and so the Newcastle Soup Pouch is labelled “May Contain Nuts”.
However, the Cardiff factory does not have the same risk and so that Soup Pouch can be labelled “Does Not Contain Nuts”.
This is where barcodes become very important: If the 2 Erudus Soup Pouches are identified by Wholesalers and Caterers only by Product Name, there is a high risk of the “May Contain” and the “Does Not Contain” products will get mixed up. However, they will each have a different GTIN and so if Wholesalers and Caterers search by Barcode, they can be certain of getting completely accurate information. Using GTINs, products can be identified by specifications such as allergen information, meaning that the Soup Pouch safe for nut allergy sufferers is easily separated from the one that is not.
In this situation, the barcode has played a key role in preventing what could, in the worst scenario, be a very severe allergic reaction.
GTINs streamline every single step of the supply chain, and offer the easiest solution to several challenges faced within foodservice – from the distribution of products to database management.
Additionally, GTINs have the functionality to include a product’s production and expiration dates – recording this information can be extremely helpful in promoting food safety. Inventory tracking becomes far less stressful, as Barcodes ensure the correct products are shipped to the right locations at the right time, optimising the business process. Barcodes that incorporate “Best Before” and “Use By” dates can not only aid product traceability (very useful when it comes to product recalls) but also aid businesses in cutting down on food waste, another increasingly pressing issue within the food industry.
GTINs are vital to business
GTINs allow Manufacturers to track exactly where their products are in the supply chain and who they’re going to.
Wholesalers can plan their inventory and utilise Barcodes to manage stock efficiently and track invoices, which will help to reduce invoice discrepancies.
By employing GTINs to search for products specifications, Caterers can tell their consumers with complete confidence what is in their food, and where it came from. This will be progressively important as legislation on food labelling becomes stricter and more prominent within the foodservice industry.
The reality of our fast paced, increasingly digital-only world is that without the use of GTINs your business won’t be able to provide customers with the correct information they require – limiting your opportunity for growth and making it potentially difficult to succeed in the long-term.
In short, Wholesalers must utilise Barcodes or risk getting left behind.
Why Erudus and GTINs are the perfect combination
As we already do with a number of partners, Erudus can integrate with the digital software systems a Wholesaler uses to manage their businesses – supplying them with a range of product data from allergen, nutritional and dietary information to storage and cooking instructions. And its Barcodes that allow this information to be communicated easily across these numerous systems.
To take just one example, Erudus have an integration with Lady Lodge, and through the Lady Lodge TRACT system, giving many Wholesalers access to a wealth of rich data easily, and from one place. Barcodes make this process seamless – whereas traditionally if Wholesalers needed in depth information for a product they would have to search for it manually, taking up a lot of time and effort.