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Frequently asked questions

productDNA is a standardised data management solution, designed and developed by leading members of the UK grocery industry.

The service offers a streamlined approach to collating, managing, and sharing new-line forms data. The highly intuitive product catalogue has been built using a standardised set of product attributes, agreed upon and used by the whole retail industry. This enables brands and manufacturers to upload high quality product data into the catalogue once, and share that data with multiple retailers instantaneously. 

productDNA is made up of  three key components:

  • Data model | a standardised industry data model, built on GS1 standards that enables the whole retail industry to use a single common language to describe products
  • Catalogue | the platform for sharing and receiving product data 
  • Physical check service | a data validation service to guarantee the quality of data within the platform

In July 2017, 12 leading grocery retailers and brands signed an industry charter, announcing their commitment to move to a single solution for managing and exchanging product data.

The rise of e-commerce, increase in specific dietary requirements and new regulations, like EU 1169, have heightened the responsibility of the grocery sector to provide consumers with accurate information about the products they purchase. 

Over the following two years, the group, facilitated by GS1 UK, worked together on a standardised solution, which became productDNA.
 

productDNA has already been adopted by four of the leading UK grocers: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose & Partners and Ocado. Together these companies make up over half of the retail grocery market. 

A range of brands, both small and large, have also adopted productDNA and are already seeing the benefits of using the service. This includes the likes of Nestlé, Unilever, General Mills, P&G, Mondelez, Coca-Cola European Partners, Candy Kittens, SC Jonson, Mallow & Marsh, Oppo Brothers, itsu [grocery], Sandows and many more.

productDNA provides a single way for brands and manufacturers to store and share product data with multiple UK retailers, and is being adopted across the UK grocery retail sector.

By using a standardised industry agreed data model, productDNA reduces the time taken in filling out separate new-line forms. Existing brands have seen a 67 per cent efficiency saving from using productDNA to share data with their customers. 

Through the physical check service, brands have also seen a 75 per cent improvement in data quality, which filters down retail supply chain improving the quality of information seen by shoppers.
 

If you are a brand or manufacturer, you can sign up to productDNA freemium straight away by completing the following sign up form.

When you have submitted the sign up form, you will be send an email asking asked to verify your account. Once your account has been verified, you will then be able access the productDNA catalogue and start uploading your product data.

If you wish to sign up to productDNA core or business, where you can start sharing your data with UK retailers, you can upgrade your account here. Alternatively, you can always get in touch with our lovely productDNA team who can upgrade your account directly.
 

 

In order to gain access to productDNA, you will need to be a GS1 UK member.

If you sign up to productDNA without being a GS1 UK member, your account will be suspended and you will be asked to join GS1 UK by completing the following form.

Or if you want a more personal touch, you can always contact our support team on 0808 178 8799 or +44 (0) 20 7092 3501.

You can find full details of our pricing structure and features here.

  • productDNA provides a single way for brands to share your product data and images with retailers
  • As a brand you will fully own your product data and images, rather than being commercially constrained by third-party content providers
  • By eliminating the need to provide data in different formats to each retailer, your as a brand can focus on what really matters to you: product development, sale growth and innovation
  • productDNA allows you to directly control the data and images you share with your customers (retailers)
  • productDNA offers retailers an easy way to access high quality, independently verified product data they can trust
  • Retailers can provide a better experience for shoppers by providing accurate and consistent product information and images through every channel, in-store and online
  • By removing unnecessary workarounds and other inefficiencies from checking suppliers’ products and associated data, retailers can focus on what really matters to them: providing a better customer experience through innovation
  • Shoppers will see complete and comprehensive information and content about all products, across all channels
  • Shoppers will make informed decisions based on their preferences, including health and wellbeing, lifestyle and sustainability

 

Platform and data questions

productDNA is underpinned by a harmonised UK grocery data model. The model contains market facing and retailer specific data for a product, covering new line form data as well as developing the capability for full business-to-consumer (B2C) data sharing. The model is based on consistent standards, guidelines and validation rules to improve data quality and make providing data easier for brands.

The data model excludes information such as cost/price.

For more information on our data model please see our user guide or reach out to your GS1 UK engagement lead.

Each brand or manufacturer receives their own instance of productDNA meaning, when you log into your account you will only see the products you have created in the system.

As a brand or manufacturer, you will also have control over who receives your data. To share data, you must select a recipient, complete the mandatory attribution fields and publish the item in order other users to receive your product data.

Brands are required to complete the data set known as ‘mandatory to list’. It is essentially what is required today to complete new-line forms and is the minimum requirement for retailers to launch a product in store. The data set is harmonised across the UK grocery market and varies slightly across different categories

As platform has been designed to streamline the new product introduction cycle, brands are unable to share product listings to retailers unless the mandatory to list attributes are completed. Nonetheless, brands can still upload information to the system and create listings, they can save and store until it is complete.

As the platform allows retailers to access and consume the information, it removes the need for brands to input data through multiple portals or new line forms. Retailers simply extract the information from the system which flows to their own downstream systems. However as cost price is excluded, this information will still need to be shared.

If a product change occurs which needs to follow the GTIN allocation rules then a new listing will need to be created. However, if a soft change occurs (which doesn’t need a new GTIN) amendments to that product automatically flow through the system and retailers are notified.

Yes, you can upload both branded and own label products into the platform, as long as the product uses a GTIN.

productDNA can store detailed information including images and e-commerce data. 

Currently retailers are only receiving new-line form data. However, GS1 UK are working with the industry on an e-commerce pilot to ensure productDNA can be used by all for sharing product data and images.  

There are two verification steps in productDNA.

  1. Artwork Check
  2. Physical Check

Artwork Check performs a set of checks across the data entered in the platform against a .pdf copy of the product artwork. It is driven by GS1 global standards and also includes validation checks on the barcode readability. Checks are performed at both the consumer unit level and logistical hierarchy level. As Artwork Check is a mandatory step, brands are unable to share listings to their retailer until it is completed.

The Physical Check is a service where an independent third party verifies the product data in the system against a physical sample of the product. The check covers a defined subset of attributes within the full data model which can be physically verified.

The check will be performed by specifically trained personnel, in a dedicated product checking facility and checks will be performed to GS1 package measurement rules.

The sampling process is simplified since brands only need to send one sample per new product to the productDNA verification centre for quality check, rather than sending multiple samples to different retailers.

You can have as many users licences to productDNA as you wish. However, we recommend keeping the number of users as low as possible for control and audit reasons.  

productDNA freemium is the base level of access to productDNA, which is available to all GS1 UK members as part of your membership. Freemium allows you to create and manage product information, for all products with an allocated GTIN, and share this data with selected “free” channels. 

You will not be able to share product data with retail channels until you have upgraded to productDNA core or business. You can upgrade your productDNA account at any time, by clicking here.

 

Support questions

We have created a range of step-by-step training videos to help you make the most out of the productDNA platform.

You can also download our user guide here, which walks you through the different options for uploading and sharing product data.

If you sign up for a productDNA freemium account, the cost of this service is  included as part of your annual GS1 UK membership. We will invoice you as usual, using our 90 day payment terms.  

However, if you have a paid account, you will be invoiced annually from the date of sign up, which may be different to when you are invoiced for your GS1 UK membership. You can elected not to continue with the paid version of productDNA when your subscription is up for renewal.

Please get in touch with one of our lovely member support team by emailing support@gs1uk.org or calling +44 (0) 20 7092 3501.

We are available Monday-Friday at 9:00am-5:00pm.

 

Governance questions

productDNA is owned and governed by the retail industry through the GS1 UK Retail Grocery Advisory Board, which is made up of 17 leading UK retailers and brands. The board has requested that GS1 UK manages productDNA on their behalf for the benefit of the retail industry.

GS1 UK is a community of over 42,000 members and is one of 115 independent, not-for-profit GS1 organisations operating across 150 countries worldwide. GS1 UK helps industries such as retail and healthcare transform the way they work and serve their customers through the provision of open, global standards.

productDNA was built for the retail industry. It was developed by a specific group of leading grocery retailers and brands who shared the common need for high quality data and a standardised way of listing their products.

At launch the service covered the specific needs of the grocery sector.This covers all product categories within a supermarket with the exception of general merchandise and clothing.

GS1 UK will continue to work with other sectors across retail to understand their specific needs and to agree the required product attributes to describe their products. 

My Numberbank is a service provided free of charge to all GS1 UK members. It allows members to allocate unique product identifiers called GTINS (Global Trade Item Numbers) to all their products. Seven product attributes are required for each GTIN (product name, main brand, sub-brand, description, web link to the product, MPN (Manufacturer’s Part Number) and SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)).

My Numberbank is increasingly used by online retailers, online marketplaces and healthcare catalogue providers to check the validity of the GTIN used in their product catalogues.

productDNA defines and manages far more product data. At launch there were 150 data attributes for products across the grocery sector, including product data such as dimensions, weight and volume, as well as ingredients, nutritional values and allergen information. Additionally, productDNA also allows brands and retailers to share this product data between them in a controlled manner, respecting commercial agreements.

TrueSource is a GDSN-certified data pool service from GS1 UK. It has been used for many years, mainly in the foodservice industry and for brands to some international retailers. Subscribers to TrueSource will be able to publish their GDSN data to productDNA where it can be amended in line with the UK grocery sector data model used by productDNA.