SCDigest: Worrisome Trend in Retail Label Requirements
By Dan Gilmore, Editor-in-Chief, SupplyChainDigest
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a
current article from Supply Chain Digest.
While carton labeling
is not exactly a sexy topic, SCDigest has
recently noted two worrisome changes with regard to carton labeling requirements
for goods going to retail that could cause real problems for manufacturers,
and we would argue ultimately retailers and consumers. These changes are
mostly in the soft goods sector.
Problem 1: Several retailers, which include
we believe Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a few others, are starting
to prohibit any other bar code other than that found on the GS1-128 (formerly
UCC-128) shipping label that they require. The GS1-128 is a serialized
shipping container bar code that uniquely identifies each carton, and is
widely used in retail for cross docking. These retailers are levying a
chargeback if any other bar code that is capable of being read by a scanner
is on the box
This is a huge problem.
First, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart, and others require a "case code" bar
code, which basically is the product UPC number plus a case pack identifier,
on each carton. So, if you happen to be a manufacturer selling to both
Wal-Mart and Macy’s, you cannot have the bar required by the former when
shipping to the latter, as just one example. The cost in terms of carrying
multiple SKUs (one with the case code, one without) or special handling/processes
would of course be significant for vendors faced with this scenario
Even worse, the requirement
to not have any other bar code on a case basically says the manufacturer
cannot track the cartons internally before the GS1-128 is placed on the
box during picking or further downstream in packing/shipping. This is a
real problem for manufacturers, many who rely on such bar codes to drive
many internal systems.
Problem 2: A small but increasing number of
retailers are moving away from the original "guidelines" for
GS1-128 label placement, which used to be (and still is for most) on the
right hand side of the long dimension of the box. A growing number of retailers
now want the GS1-128 in the lower left hand side, or in the middle of the
side. Others now want the GS1-128 on the top or even the front (short side)
of the box.
As retailers move away
from this simple standard, it can and will cause havoc in consumer goods DCs.
It will cause lots of confusion trying to get label placement right for
different customers, and again even more importantly could make it impossible
for current or future automated material handling systems to work properly – all
over the changes in simple labeling requirements.
Let’s consider the full impact
of these developments, and use some common sense so that costs are not
raised for manufacturers, retailers and consumers, Yes, maybe RFID solves
it all eventually. But right now this is a growing issue that needs to
be quickly addressed through dialog between manufacturers and retailers
and renewed attention from the standards groups such as GS1 and VICS.
questions: Have you seen retailers starting to back away from existing
standards for carton labeling? Do you see a potential negative impact
on logistics processes for manufacturers? What can be done to come up with
something that works for all parties?