Australian retailers are being forced to tackle a mammoth six month data migration project later this year in preparation for the closure of the EANnet catalogue.
Established in the year 2000, the catalogue is used by the local packaged goods industry to electronically process product information
Used by retail giants such as Coles and Metcash, it is set to close in August, 2007.
There is currently 1,500 registered suppliers actively using the catalogue, according to Robert Durrant, the managing director of Retail E-vironment.
Durrant was part of the original team that commercialised the EANnet platform.
He said one of the key reasons for replacing the catalogue is to introduce a new system that will allow local industry to "talk" to similar systems used overseas.
For example, the United States equivalent of EANnet is 1SYNC and the new data pool being introduced in Australia will enable data interoperability.
Durrant said EANnet's replacement is known as the GS1netR data pool which will provide users with greater functionality and also comply with GDSN standards for global data synchronisation.
When the original catalogue was introduced Durrant said suppliers were able to remove the traditionally error prone process of data alignment using paper based buying forms and Excel spreadsheets.
"However, the advantages of data synchronisation using data pools such as EANnet and GS1net come at a cost," he said referring to the complexity of product data management.
Put simply, migrating to the new system is proving costly as companies invest in system development, GS1net middleware and change management.
A key cost is training and adding new processes to the system such as a 'load and publish' function.
Initially 500 suppliers will make the move to GS1netR with Durrant supporting migration initiatives with companies such as Colgate, National Foods and Wrigley.
"Migration will be done over a six month period and costs can vary," he said.
"Many companies manage their information in a stand-alone middleware tool like PCM, these organizations will need consulting assistance.
"Others that have their middleware tools integrated to their back-end systems will have to do significant development work including file transfers, change management and documentation."
Coles was unavailable for comment at press time.