Consumer information on products .…it really, really matters

Consumers and businesses alike want to buy and sell products with confidence. In the era of COVID-19, we are seeing just how much that really matters.

As New Zealand locked down in March 2020, it was clear that online shopping activities would boom. In particular people with compromised immune systems and/or food sensitivities, and especially our more elderly citizens, sought this form of protection. And when they shopped for food and groceries, they wanted to stock up more than usual.

We have long known that one aspect of buyer confidence is access to detailed and accurate product master data –that’s about having a great catalogue to sell from. And in 2020, the importance of online catalogues has really come to the fore. People need access to clear, accurate and complete product photos, descriptions, and the right information on nutrition, allergens, ingredients and producer claims. Happily, most of this product data can be sourced by consumers on various online shopping sites – and all are enabled by GS1 systems, most notably the National Product Catalogue and GS1 ProductFlow.

As lockdown came, GS1 partnered with Countdown to audit around 40,000 consumer products in that supermarket group’s range. We audited to identify products with incomplete consumer information, putting a huge priority on products classified as “high involvement/high sales”. Such was the urgency that we negotiated to have GS1 ProductFlow people embedded within Countdown’s Auckland online shopping fulfilment centre during Level 4.

Within days of lockdown starting, our people and our systems were processing products to identify the data gaps and fill them.… pronto! Product master data gathered into GS1’s OnPack database flowed automatically into Countdown's core systems – and from there, into the Countdown webshop and its supporting apps.

Moreover, the vastly-improved product data in OnPack was made available to others with a stake in New Zealand’s well-functioning food and grocery supply chain, these including the Foodstuffs Group (along with the New Zealand Heart Foundation and the Ministry for Primary Industries). It really was a New Zealand Inc effort during a time of special need, with GS1 in the vanguard. We were proud to pioneer a new model of data collection with partners under unprecedented conditions and time pressures.

To learn more and sign-up to our On-Pack service, click here.