Some companies adopt GS1 just for compliance sake, while others see GS1 as an opportunity to improve product information and procedures that go far beyond GS1. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., the world famous chocolate maker, has implemented LANSA’s Data Sync Direct as its Product Information Management (PIM) solution and as its solution to synchronize supply chain information with its wholesale customers over the GDSN (Global Data Synchronization Network).
GS1 compliance was not the most important driver for Godiva and less than half the product attributes the company is capturing are related to GS1. Data Sync Direct serves as the company’s central repository for product information and consistently feeds accurate and up-to-date data to downstream systems and to third parties. Being able to maintain and manage product information in a central place, with proper workflow procedures and audit trails has helped Godiva to streamline its procedures from product development to marketing and sales.
Godiva Chocolatier is a manufacturer of premium chocolates and related products, such as truffles, coffee, cocoa, biscuits, dipped fruits and sweets, chocolate liqueurs and more. Godiva, founded in Belgium in 1926, was brought to America in 1966 and has been the leader in premium chocolate ever since. Godiva owns and operates over 600 retail boutiques worldwide, B2C websites and its products are also available via select department and specialty stores.
The company’s name is inspired by the legend of Lady Godiva, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman. Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering under her husband’s oppressive taxation. She appealed again and again to her husband. At last, he promised to abolish the taxes, if she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word and, after issuing a proclamation that all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Lady Godiva’s husband kept his promise and ended the heavy taxation.
Back from the old legend to the chocolatier of today, Godiva’s regional offices run their ERP systems on a single IBM i server. These ERP systems include individually customized versions of BPCS in Brussels and Hong Kong and PRMS in Japan and North America. Godiva uses Island Pacific for its retail sales audit function, also on the same IBM i server, and has IT staff in all mentioned locations.
Godiva Inc (called Godiva hereafter) has over 2,000 wholesale customers in the US and Canada, mostly department stores, grocery stores, drug stores and other retailers. These stores need to be kept up to date about product information. Prior to using Data Sync Direct, Godiva was depending on MS Excel to manually upload information into the 1WorldSync data pool. Godiva was also using manual procedures and Excel to capture product attributes that were not available in its PRMS system.
Christine Moore, Product Master Data Manager at Godiva, explains, “It was labor intensive to safeguard the accuracy of information. We didn’t have a system to store product information centrally. Product attributes were kept in a number of Excel and Access files by various departments and individuals. The multiplicity of files required expert knowledge and manual effort to be consolidated into a single version of the truth.”
“As business was growing, it became nearly impossible to keep track of product attributes and manage it for all our retail and wholesale channels without a PIM tool,” continues Moore. “We needed a proper database to house product information, an audit trail to capture product changes and a workflow facility to support related procedures. We needed all those things.”
Product attributes were kept in a number of files by various departments.
In searching for a robust PIM solution, Godiva looked at market analyst’s reports and submitted RFPs (Request for Proposal) to several vendors. This resulted in the submission of four proposals that Godiva considered worthy of pursuing. One of these was from Weidenhammer Systems Corporation, a LANSA partner and information technology firm who had provided consultancy services to Godiva for several years. Weidenhammer proposed LANSA’s Data Sync Direct solution.
Susan Phillips, Project Manager EDI at Godiva, together with Moore, produced a list of criteria that the solution had to meet:
“Of the four solutions that were demonstrated to us and that we extensively researched, LANSA’s Data Sync Direct product is the one that most suited our needs,” says Moore.
During the implementation project, Moore and Philips spent much of their time interviewing the different departments that would be utilizing the solution to make sure that the right attributes were defined and collected. “We weren’t implementing the system for a specific division or just for GS1 compliance. In fact less than half of the attributes we collected were relevant to GS1. We wanted to capture all attributes, both those that we needed to be visible within the company and those that needed to be available to our supply chain,” says Moore.
An added implementation challenge for Godiva was to capture the dimensions for some of its unusual shaped product items, such as the seasonal Valentine, Easter and Christmas items. They can be in the shape of a heart, egg, carrot, Christmas tree, a teddy-bear holding a candy bar, and so on. GS1 on-boarding staff, whose New Jersey office isn’t far from Godiva, came out to Godiva’s company store to ensure data quality standards were met. They bought one of almost every product and spent nearly three days measuring and weighing the products. (There might have been some product tasting as well and it was probably one of the nicest ever on-boarding projects.)
We needed a proper database, an audit trail to capture product changes and a workflow facility.
Workflow has always been an integral part of LANSA Data Sync Direct and provided Godiva with the concurrent workflow capabilities the company sought to implement.
The concurrent workflow feature allows Godiva to kick off a workflow to multiple attribute owners at several departments and groups, asking them, for example, to provide specific information by a certain due date. When staff members sign-on to the system, they get to see the tasks assigned to them. Attribute owners can be product oriented, each responsible for an individual product or class of products. Or the attribute owners can be responsible for a group of attributes by function, such as product development, marketing, regulatory staff and packaging engineers.
“The concurrent workflow is one of my favorite features,” explains Moore. “Staff can work on their particular attributes simultaneously. I don’t have to wait for a staff member to do his or her part before I can kick off a task to another staff member, even when they are working on attributes for the same product.”
Staff can work on their particular attributes simultaneously while working on the same product.
According to Moore, the PIM solution has improved accountability. “It is much easier now to track whether or not attribute owners have done what they needed to do. In case of a hold-up, I can go directly to the responsible person and find out what the issue is. The improved level of accountability helps to track compliance by department and streamline the process,” continues Moore.
Moore also feels that procedures are more efficient because of the audit trail in LANSA Data Sync Direct. “All product changes show up in the audit trail and I can see who has made the change. This ensures that I am informed timely and allows me to ask the right questions to the right person.”
Godiva uses LANSA’s end user reporting tool (LANSA Client) to generate price lists for its wholesale customers. The pricelists contain GDSN information, such as dimensions, weight and pricing and are customized to Godiva’s requirements. The report shows the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) as the identifier, while displaying all packaging levels on the same line. “It’s a simple report that has changed the life of our marketing team dramatically. Not just because of the speed of getting pricelists generated, but also because of the increased level of detail. Our customers utilize the report for planning their shelf space and benefit as well.” says Moore.
Moore finds it an enormous advantage that all data is now stored and maintained in a central place. “All GDSN and Godiva attributes are kept centrally. Previously everyone would send me spreadsheets and I would need to consolidate their information in yet another spreadsheet. Having a single central database where people can maintain their own attributes has been tremendously beneficial. We now have a single source of the truth for all product data.”
Phillips says that the Data Sync Direct solution works smoothly from an IT point of view. “The solution’s embedded security allows us to limit user access to specific tasks and product categories. We could have deployed Data Sync Direct on Windows, but we preferred to have it on the same IBM i server as our PRMS system. Integration was straightforward and keeping it all on the same server was very cost effective.”
The improved level of accountability helps to track compliance by department.
Phillips concludes, “The LANSA team was awesome to work with. They didn’t just assist us in the technical implementation, but also helped with business decisions as they have extensive knowledge on GS1 and GDSN subject matters. We were able to bounce things off on them and they would come up with suggestions for a solution. Weidenhammer did a great job as well.”
“We had to deliver this project on a modest budget. As far as hardware went, our existing IBM i server was the least expensive option. LANSA Data Sync Direct is very reasonably priced as well.”
“We also had to consider our locations in Europe, Asia and Japan,” concludes Moore. “Our plan is to roll out the LANSA Data Sync Direct solution to those offices in the future. That’s why LANSA’s multi-lingual capability and regional support are important.”
“My advice to other companies who are automating PIM or GDSN is to consult with their business users and do their homework up front. PIM and GDSN are business projects rather than IT projects. When you have done your homework well, the actual implementation should be easy.”
Our plan is to roll out the solution to our offices in Europe, Asia and Japan. That’s why LANSA’s multi-lingual capability and regional support are important.