Retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s have signed up to a service designed to help them hold more accurate product information and take better advantage of multichannel and mobile commerce.

Multichannel and mobile services are gaining traction among retailers but they need clean product data to work properly. For example mobile applications that allow customers to scan bar codes and receive information on products rely on accurate and up to date information, and GS1 UK, the organisation releasing the new tools, says only 9% of 375 products scanned using third party smart phone applications for a recent report returned correct information.

GS1 UK said this could be dangerous if, for example, a nut allergy sufferer was given the wrong information on whether a product contained nuts. It could also lead to consumers deciding not to use retailers’ mobile offerings if they consistently get inaccurate information. IT director Richard Copperthwaite said: “The important thing in a multichannel environment is that all those channels have access to the same high quality data.”

 Sainsbury’s chief technology officer Julian Burnett said clean product data is “equally important as having good quality products. This is about creating certainty for our consumers.”

Burnett said the data could be used in future for personalised product recommendations. “People expect information to be pertinent to them. If we can strengthen the level of personalisation through this channel there’s a significant opportunity there. With the permission of customers, it gives us the opportunity to know about more about them and make suggestions.”