When dealing with data, and all related terminology, you may feel like you’re trying to speak a foreign language. In the interest of keeping things clear and simple, we will introduce commonly used terms in each newsletter that will help you navigate the data shorthand and learn the lingo. This issue, we bring you: eaches.
The world of retail and inventory management has its own language for the packaging hierarchy of a product. GS1 US, an international standards development association formed by the United Nations Development Programme, manages the global registry of company data that allows for synchronized supply chain operation – the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). This supply chain data includes shipping information, which needs to have a standardized format to encourage easy global trade.
Global retailers – such as Lowe’s, Walmart, and SUPERVALU – require suppliers to use a strict set of packaging categories and hierarchies due to the thousands of companies with which they do business. These product and packaging specifications are used to stock warehouses, block out trucks for delivery, optimize last in, first out (LIFO) stock rotation, and, when accurate, increase speed to market.
Within the GDSN packaging hierarchy, each is the term used for the base unit of any product’s packaging. In retail, this is the actual consumer unit that is scanned and stocked on store shelves. For instance, if a company sells and ships wall plates, an “each” refers to one of those wall plates. This hierarchy progresses as additional layers of packaging are added, preparing for an order to be shipped.
Eaches are usually grouped together and packaged in a box, jar, or bag that may be called the “inner pack” or “multi-pack.” The inner packs may then be packed in a larger “case”, which is ultimately loaded onto a “pallet” for shipping. The unit of measure (UOM) for every stage of packaging is always the lowest common denominator, or the each.
In retail, a packaging level’s categorization depends on how the product is being shipped and then sold. For example, if the previously mentioned wall plates were sold in packs of three, that pack – the multi-pack – would then be considered the each, as it is the base unit that is being sold to consumers. However, if the wall plates were being sold individually, but shipped in multi-packs of 10, an individual wall plate would be considered the each.
It is important to note that a different set of packaging level identifier rules apply when entering product data information into the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW). For example, the each will always be considered the product’s lowest common denominator, regardless of what is being sold on the shelf. For more information, reference our IDW product-packaging guide.
In the illustration above, the each is the pack of blue pens, which is what is placed on store shelves for sale to customers. You can see how the each moves from one stage of packaging to the next. For example, if there were 50 eaches in a case, and 8 cases on a pallet, then the count for the pallet would be 400 eaches (EA).
Two other terms that are commonly used in the world of retail packaging are “children” and “parents.” Children refer to any packaging unit that is contained within the referenced level of packaging (i.e., a lower level in the hierarchy). For instance, the children of a case would be the multi-packs contained inside. The parent of a case would be the pallet.
The highest level of a product’s packaging hierarchy is what is referred to as the transport load (i.e., the final package loaded onto a truck for delivery). If a packaging level has what is considered to be a parent, or larger packaging level, it cannot be described as a transport load.
Valid values when assigning packaging hierarchy codes to a retail product are:
EA: Base of unit, or each
DS: Display Shipper
MX: Mixed Module
PK: Pack or Inner Pack
TL: Transport Load
GDSN is connected to the CPG/retail, food service, healthcare, and hardlines industries. The above language is used universally and is essential for selling products outside and inside the channel.
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