GXS partners get in sync through UCCnet deal

Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce network operator Global eXchange Services Inc. (GXS) is joining with UCCnet to provide its trading partners with the ability to synchronize product data, which it says will save its partners money and speed their time to market.

GXS’s alliance with UCCnet, a non-profit organization providing standards-based item registration and data synchronization, is set to be announced Monday at the 2003 National Retail Federation Annual Convention & Expo, being held in New York from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15.

Through the alliance, GXS trading partners will be able to register data in the UCCnet registry via GXS’s Global Product Catalogue service, ensuring that their product information remains accurate and timely, GXS said.

“This is huge for the retail industry,” said GXS Chief Architect John Radko. “It offers a central point, a registry, where people can find where product information is located.”

GXS Retail Industry Manager Carol Elliot added that being able to track product information as it flows through the supply chain can become extremely complex .

“The need to get good, up-to-date information in the store is absolutely critical,” she said.

The GXS catalogue contains more than 60 million line items, or pieces of information about products. These line items tell retailers not only the cost of a product, but also its size, colour and position on a display, for example. Such information is stored in various electronic information pools, but by accessing GXS’s Global Product Catalogue, trading partners can better locate in what pool the product information is stored, and they can then trade that information using industry standards such as XML (Extensible Markup Language).

And although UCCnet requires the exchange of documents in XML, according to Elliot, GXS partners do not have to employ XML technology to take advantage of the UCCnet alliance. GXS said that it will translate documents from the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) standard into XML so that partners can move at their own technological pace without being left behind.

“What we are doing with this alliance is positioning our customers and prospects to be able to use new technology at a reasonable cost,” Elliot said.

As part of the deal, GXS will also be offering a UCCnet adapter for its Enterprise System integration broker and Application Integrator data transformation and mapping software, which will help companies configure their systems, the company said.

“We are striving to create a world where (trading partners) can find product information no matter where it is,” Radko said. “With this deal, we are providing an absolute foundation.”

Gaithersburg, Md.-based GXS provides transaction management services to over 60,000 retail partners throughout the world. UCCnet, a subsidiary of global standards organization Uniform Code Council Inc., offers an open platform for collaborative commerce services, including registry, synchronization of product information.

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