Thursday, November 19, 2009

Floral Industry Ready to Move Forward with Standard Data Protocols

Electronic ordering, receiving and invoicing using product distribution and tracking technologies that transformed the consumer products delivery system are about to become a reality in the floral industry.

Standard data protocols, including the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN, pronounced “gee-tin”) for boxes and the Universal Product Code (UPC) for bunches and bouquets, are now available.

The Floral Logistics Coalition, a consortium of six industry trade associations including SAF, says automation will help trading partners meet market demand and stay competitive.

Used for some time in other industries, the GTIN and UPC are part of an internationally recognized data standard behind bar-coding systems enabling supply chain partners to eliminate redundancies, reduce manual labor and minimize the chance for human error in the distribution process. Their implementation can help cut cost and error out of the floral supply chain, speed delivery and, ultimately, make a fresher and more consistent range of product available to the consumer.

“The entire floral industry needs to get on board with this quickly,” said Jim Wanko, executive vice president of the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association. “It can directly impact our ability to compete with other consumer goods.” Suppliers and wholesalers unable to conduct business electronically may soon find it difficult to do business with mass merchandisers, supermarkets and possibly some larger retail florists, Wanko said.

The Floral Logistics Coalition has been working for more than two years to define, test and refine the coding strategy so that the industry can move forward on the Floral GTIN Initiative. Best practices for box labeling, UPC item labeling and synchronizing data are being worked on by industry-wide committees.

The Coalition has created a website — — as an online resource for growers, importers, distributors and their trading partners. On it are step-by-step implementation instructions, the full GTIN Implementation Guide, and a timeline designed to have the system operating by the middle of next year.

The Floral Logistics Coalition is made up of six industry trade organizations including the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association (WFFSA), Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF), California Association of Flower Growers and Shippers (CAFGS), California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), and the Society of American Florists (SAF). Also involved is GS1 US, the organization which oversees the international supply chain standard in the United States.

Industry members with questions about the GTIN Initiative should visit or contact their respective organizations.

— Shelley Estersohn

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