Tesco has endorsed a system created by three technology firms that will allow its suppliers to meet its new labelling standard.

The grocer has set out plans for all suppliers to label each pallet destined for Tesco with an advanced shipping notification/serial shipping container code (ASN/SSCC), which conforms to a standard set by Tesco and standards body GS1 UK.

Grocery suppliers must be compliant by November this year and non-food suppliers have a deadline in 2010. Tesco’s fresh produce suppliers achieved compliance in 2008.

The Norprint system uses Toshiba SX industrial printers combined with Opticon hand-held devices. A supplier can install an entry-level system for about £6,000.

Suppliers download information from Tesco’s electronic trading system through the Norprint ASN programme to an Opticon device. Then unique labels containing the SSCC barcode for each pallet can be printed. Tesco scans these barcodes when the pallets enter its distribution centres so it knows what each pallet contains. The system also creates the ASN, which is uploaded to the Tesco information management system website. Individual pallet information is retained and viewable on the site and in paper form.

Tesco said that the standard provides electronic proof of delivery, pallet traceability and earlier notification of delivery on time, as well as eliminating order discrepancies.

This should result in a reduction in claims costs and administration while offering improved turn-around times and a more efficient finance process.