Share Information Electronically

Share your product and location information electronically with your trading partners

Electronic data sharing has many benefits, including reducing communication errors, increasing the speed of trade transactions, and supporting real-time product information updates. There are three main ways to share: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), The Global Data Synchronization NetworkTM (GDSN®), and Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS).

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Electronic Data Interchange

You may be asked by a trading partner to transact using Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI. EDI enables the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents, such as purchase orders, advance ship notices, and invoices, between companies using a standard format, regardless of the kind of computer or software each company is using. EDI “bridges the gap” between companies and systems, and uses standardized business messages to enable trading partners to communicate in a common language. EDI helps companies conduct electronic commerce efficiently and accurately.

As an example, with EDI, a company’s computer system can generate and transmit a purchase order to a supplier and receive a computer-generated confirmation of receipt from the supplier’s system in a matter of minutes—not days. EDI has helped thousands of companies achieve significant operational savings through process improvements to normal business operations, such as order, delivery, invoice, payment, warehouse, and inventory processes.

    EDI Resources

    Global Data Synchronization Network

    Global Data Synchronization Network

    GDSN is the electronic transfer of standardized product information between trading partners and the continuous synchronization of that information over time. The GDSN helps to support all partners in having access to the same, accurate information. It’s all about product master data, which includes product attributes such as weight, description, brand name, product information, GTIN, and manufacturer information.

    Trading partners only need one connection to send and/or receive product information. By being continuous, trading partners can share accurate and up-to-date product information. For example, once a product's information is synchronized, any changes made to it are automatically and immediately provided to downstream trading partners using the network.

    You can share your product data using GDSN through data pools with companies that manage the exchange of product data between trading partners. Different data pools specialize in different industries, so it’s best to ask some qualifying questions before choosing one.

    Package Measurement Rules

    Accurately measuring your products can improve trucking efficiency, increase new product speed-to-market, and improve relationships with your customers. Even a small error or misunderstanding in package measurement can be compounded at the pallet level, resulting in rejected shipments, costs to correct errors, catalog discrepancies, and lost sales. When all trading partners follow the same rules, the chances for errors are much reduced.

    These rules are called the GDSN Package Measurement Rules. They support trading partners in sharing a common understanding of package measurements across the world. They also play an important role in communicating product master data electronically between trading partners. The measurement process itself is not difficult. The main issues are awareness, understanding, and proper application of the rules.

    The GDSN Package Measurement Rules establish two distinct types of trade items: consumer trade items and non-consumer trade items. Each one has its own set of measurement rules based on specific criteria, as well as specific rules to deal with exceptions.

    Consumer trade items are items that are sold at point of sale (at checkout) and are marked with a point-of-sale barcode, typically the UPC-A.

    1. Your first step is to identify the “default front,” which can often be different from how the product is displayed by a retailer. It’s usually the side that has the promotional copy, like the product name, on it. If more than one side has promotional copy, then the default front would be the side with the largest or highest surface area. For the majority of trade items, determining the default front is easy; however rules exist to address specific exceptions.
    2. Next, identify the right orientation in which to measure the product. The direction of the text elements on the default front determines the orientation.
    3. Last, measure the product using height, width, and depth.

    Non-consumer trade items are items that do not pass through point of sale and instead pass through warehouses and distribution centers, such as cases or pallets. They are typically marked with GS1-128 or ITF-14 barcodes.

    1. Your first step is to determine the “natural base” of the item. Typically this is the natural underside of the trade item, but if there are graphics indicating a top or bottom orientation, the marked bottom is the natural base. Determining the natural base is usually easy; however additional rules exist to address specific exceptions.
    2. Second, measure the product using height, width, and depth.

    Note: If your package is marked with both consumer and non-consumer trade item barcodes, follow the rules for a consumer trade item.



    EPCIS is a GS1 Standard that helps to enable trading partners to share information about the physical movement and status of products as they travel throughout the supply chain—from business to business and ultimately to consumers. It helps answer the “what, where, when, and why” questions to meet consumer and regulatory demands for accurate and detailed product information.

    EPCIS is used by companies across the world to track everything from the origin and freshness of foods to the safety of pharmaceuticals.

    EPCIS Resources

    Download the Benefits of EPCIS PDF (709 KB)

    More Ways GS1 Standards Can Help Your Business

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    Additional Ways to Identify Products

    EPC®-enabled RFID

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    Speed up scan times and add or modify data as the product moves through the supply chain