The benefits of two collaboration technologies for retailers and suppliers were outlined last week at the Efficient Customer Response Conference in Brussels.Solutions News - Conference highlights retail advantages of RFID and GDS

Aimed at encouraging the sharing of knowledge and experience between both sides, the conference was dominated this year by two issues: RFID and global data synchronisation (GDS).

In his address to delegates, Metro Group chief information officer Zygmunt Mierdorf outlined the benefits observed during the retailer’s RFID trial at its Extra store in Rheinberg, Germany, which he said had been shared with 600 top suppliers at a meeting two weeks ago.

According to Mierdorf, the store had seen out-of-stocks reduced by 14 per cent. Related labour costs at the store had been reduced by 11 per cent. However, he urged retailers not to concentrate solely on the bottom line, but also to take into account operational efficiencies.

Metro hopes to start rolling out RFID tracking in the supply chain from eight distribution centres to 270 stores by November 1.

Procter & Gamble also had some strong results from its trial of GDS - an initiative to create a standard way of describing products within central product files.

The mismatch in the way retailers and their suppliers define products within their systems is a major barrier to sharing detailed supply chain information and automating the flow of documents, such as purchase orders and invoices.

Procter & Gamble IT director for Western Europe Flor Mertens claimed that GDS could save €1 million (667,100) for every €1 billion (667.1 million) in turnover. The company found that administration efficiencies could save 5,000 account manager hours a year, and the lead time needed to set up an SKU on the system could be reduced from six days to five minutes.

According to Mertens, Procter & Gamble was looking to control 20 per cent of its volume using GDS systems by July. He said: ‘If your company isn’t working on GDS, you are leaving money on the table not just for you, but for your customers as well.’

Mertens also quoted Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, saying: ‘GDS is a boring subject with exciting consequences.’