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What is GS1? What is GDSN? and Why Does it Matter?

May 12, 2022

We have been talking a lot about GS1, their standards, and GDSN lately. Those conversations have been full of fascinating information about sourcing, packaging, and best practices but they can get really complex. In an effort to clear it all up, let’s get back to the basics with some info from GS1 Standards Professional, Georgette Suggs, Manager, Data & Content Services here at Sitation.

Aishia Williams: Hi Georgette! How long have you been working at Sitation and what is your role?

Georgette Suggs:  Hi Aishia.  I’ve been with Sitation a whopping 4+ months.  I started in January of this year.   I am a Manager in the Data and Content Services group with a focus on quality operations.  But my favorite specialty is GS1 Standards and GDSN. 

Aishia: Let’s start at the top. Who is GS1?

Georgette: GS1 is the global standards organization that helps industry set standard expectations around product identification, content and sharing.  Mostly they are known for being THE global barcode provider.  Anyone who wants a barcode must get it from GS1. 

Aishia: Okay, Now for what the people really want to know…What is GDSN and what is it used for?

Georgette: GDSN also known as Global Data Synchronization Network is a  “..the world’s largest product data network.”   The GDSN consists of multiple, approved ‘Data Pools’ and the GS1 Global Registry.   A brand owner or manufacturer contracts with a data pool and uploads their product content to the GDSN via the connection provided by the data pool.   Their products are added to the Global Registry and the content is ready to be shared with retailers and operators.   The next step is for a retailer or operator to subscribe to the Brand Owners data. After a subscription has been received the Brand Owner publishes content for specific products or their entire catalog (depending on the retailer’s requirements) to the retailer.  Once the retailer accepts the publication an open conduit for content sharing is created between the Brand Owner and the Retailer for each product over the GDSN. 

Aishia: How long have you been interacting with GDSN? 

Georgette: I’ve been involved with GDSN for somewhere around 13 years I think.  Wow!  I feel like I’m aging myself. 

Aishia: Do you need a PIM solution software for GDSN?

Georgette: Ah, good question.  A PIM is not required for GDSN because data is loaded to the GDSN via various data pools that house product content.  However, I believe a PIM can enable faster, more accurate and up to data data configuration within the selected data pool.  

Aishia: What PIM platforms have you used for GDSN?

Georgette: While I was working in industry, Salsify was the PIM I used.  The company I was with used Salsify as the system to aggregate, clean and enhance product content prior to sending  on to the selected Data Pool as well as many other end points.   Now that I work for Sitation I am even more focused on Salsify and often work with our clients to  enable the  Data Pool functionality that Salsify provides.  This is a double bonus.  Salsify not only functions as an awesome PIM but also can be the chosen Data Pool solution for GDSN. 

Aishia: Who is the target/Ideal GDSN user? Who does it help and how?

Georgette: Any organization that sells products with GTINs via Retail, Food Service, or even D2C.  Any organization that would like a structured, repeatable, consistent method to share their product content.   CPG (consumer packaged goods) relies heavily on GDSN.  But DIY is coming on strong and Pharma is also a big player.   

Aishia: Are there popular vendors/marketplaces that require GDSN? Who?

Georgette:  Many of the big and small name retailers/ operators prefer to receive product content via GDSN however, requiring the use of GDSN would be tough because so many suppliers/brand owners are just not in a position to utilize the GDSN yet.  

Aishia: If the retailers I use don’t prefer or encourage GDSN, should I? What is the value?

Georgette: I believe you should use GDSN because it enables you to publish beautiful content out to your customers in a very consistent and user friendly way.   When your customers see that you are delivering great content in that consistent manner, they are going to be more likely to purchase from you AND they are going to be enabled to share your content with the consumer.  You want this because it WILL increase sales.  We all know that “content is king” and GDSN is the way to get the “king” to market.

Aishia: Thanks Georgette! 

As a GS1 Gold Solution partner, Sitation is eager to help you leverage GS1 Standards and enable your GDSN participation. Please contact us for more information about how we can help .

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