CHICAGO -- Transora, one of the three major exchanges serving the food industry, is poised to begin providing retailers access to its electronic Data Catalogue within the next several months, according to Judy Sprieser, CEO of the exchange.
Manufacturers have been loading item information, used for procurement auctions, into the catalogs since Transora took it live last July.
For the past two months, Transora has been working to establish connectivity to retailers through various channels, Sprieser said.
To do that, the exchange is preparing to begin rolling out the service on a case-by-case basis.
The connection between retailers and the information contained in the Data Catalogue will make it easier for retailers to do more than participate in auctions, industry observers said.
It will allow retailers to advance beyond auctions and start using more sophisticated applications like Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR).
"They [retailers] are going to have access to more accurate, standards-compliant, real-time product information, which will get rid of all those administrative headaches that lead to inaccurate orders.
"This is the critical foundation for a much more accurate supply of information," Sprieser said.
Sprieser is optimistic regarding the potential of the standardized item catalog and future applications, such as CPFR.
However, she expressed frustration over the slow progress being made with coming up with universal standards for item identification necessary to help facilitate the process.
"We still don't have a standard protocol for CPFR," she said. "Today, it is a dabbler's tool, being used by several companies but with a limited number of trading partners."
According to Sprieser, retailers are still waiting for a clear vision of how this data is going to flow. Many are uncertain as to the best way to go about accessing the available information, and are not yet willing to commit.
"Retailers cannot be sure that if they invest in a certain access point, that will be the way to go at the end of the day," she said.
Sprieser predicted a fair amount of experimentation in the immediate future.
At this point, Transora is working to ensure that retailers can access the catalog regardless of their point of entry.
Moreover, Transora wants to make it available to retail members and non-members.
Sprieser noted an increasing degree of cooperation between the exchanges as they strive to be more collaborative.
The two other major exchanges are the WorldWide Retail Exchange, Alexandria, Va., and GlobalNetXchange, San Francisco.
While both WWRE and GNX were established by retailers.
Transora was established by CPG companies .
However, industry observers have noted that Transora has been trying to become more retail-oriented.