As a Co-op administrator, managing your vendor catalogs and contracts is an essential task that ensures your members have access to accurate and up-to-date product information. In this manual, we will guide you through the process of adding a new catalog and fixing the items.
NOTE: This upload process can also be used to update Catalog Items and/or Prices.
Each Vendor must be setup first before it can contain any Catalog Items or Contracts.
Each Vendor can optionally be setup with multiple Locations. Each Location will have access to all the Catalog Items for easier management but can have different pricing and availability from each other.
Vendors can contain a set of Catalog Items that you, as the Co-op administrator, can manage. The Catalog Items contain the basic information about the item from the vendor (vendor product ID, product name as referred to by the vendor, brand and manufacturer product ID, etc.). To simplify the setup and maintenance of this product information, these Catalogs Items are matched to items from the Nourish to Flourish Database, which enhances them with a full set of product attributes that is kept up to date by the manufacturer. This matching is done automatically when the GTIN is provided by the manufacturer, but if the GTIN is not provided then you must search for a match yourself using GDSN Connect’s search tools.
When the information for a Catalog Item is updated by the manufacturer or you, all members will receive these updates.
NOTE: These Catalog Items are separate from any Items that you may add to your local database.
To add a price to a Catalog Item, you must setup a Contract. Contracts are associated with a Vendor (and Location, if specified) and are a collection of Catalog Items and prices.
For a member to access these Vendor Catalogs, they must first setup the corresponding Vendor (and Location) and then select which Contract they want to use.
Catalog Setup Process
The process to setup a catalog:
- Setup Vendors & Locations
- Setup Contract
- Gather Information from Vendor
- Upload Catalog & Match Items
- Review & Fix Catalog Items (Optional)
- Publish to Members
Setup Vendors & Locations
The first step in setting up a vendor is to add the vendor's information to your system. This can be done by selecting the Vendor module on the left-hand side.
Click the plus sign button on the bottom right-hand side of your screen and select [Add Vendor].
Enter the vendor’s name (required) and the vendor email, website, and fax # which are optional. Click the [Save and Close] button to save this vendor to your list of vendors.
Repeat for each additional vendor necessary.
Setting up a vendor location is an important aspect of food purchasing for school nutrition programs. A vendor location is a physical address where a vendor stores and distributes products. To set up a location for the vendor select the vendor you are working with then select the [Vendor Location] at the top.
Select the (+) plus sign and enter the location name.
Select [Save & Close], repeat this step for each vendor.
Once you have set up the vendor, the next step is to create a Contract.
At this time, setting up the Contract is done by inTEAM. Please send your contract provide your inTEAM representative Ciera Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information to set up contracts:
- Vendor (and Location, if applicable)
- Contract Description
- Contract #
- Start Date
- End Date
NOTE: This can be provided at the same time as the Catalog Items for uploading at the later step.
Gather Information from Vendor
Request from the Vendor the catalog information, including pricing, for the contracted items. This information may come from the awarded bid.
This information must be put into a template for automatic upload into GDSN Connect. The latest version of the template can be found here in the Catalog Template article. There should be one file per Vendor and Location.
When you copy/paste information into the template, we recommend pasting “values” to not overwrite any formatting.
In addition to the Contract Info, the required data includes the following for each Catalog Item:
|Column Name||Type||Description or Notes|
|Vendor Product ID||Required||Unique ID that the Vendor has assigned to the Item. This may be known as Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) by the vendor. When the manufacturer is also the vendor, this may be the same as the Manufacturer Product ID.|
|Item Name||Required||Name or description of the item as used by the Vendor|
|Pack Size||Optional||Pack Size of the item|
|Brand Name/Mfr:||Optional||Used to help search for product if GTIN is unavailable|
|Manufacturer Product ID||Optional||Used to help search for product if GTIN is unavailable|
|GTIN||Optional||Used to precisely match items and retrieve essential details such as nutrients, allergens, and supply chain information. This is a 14 digit number, and sometimes may be called a UPC.|
|Net Weight (Lbs)||Conditional||Used to help search for product if GTIN is unavailable; required when matching to a Generic item without a GTIN from the N2F Database.|
|Price Effective Date||Conditional||Required if Commercial Price is entered|
|Commercial Price||Optional||Commercial price of the pack. For “Net Off Invoice”, this should exclude any Donated Value. For “Fee for Service”, this should be net of any Donated Value|
|Donated Value||Optional||The value of the USDA Foods that are in each product.|
|Value Pass Thru Method||Optional||This field pertains to the method used to handle the transfer of value or pricing information. Acceptable values include "No USDA Foods Included", "Net Off Invoice", "Fee For Service", or "Rebate Offered". Blank values will be treated as “No USDA Foods Included”|
|Item Type||Required||Used to automatically configure non-food items. Acceptable values include “Food” or “Non-Food”. Blank values will be treated as “Food”|
Upload Catalog & Match Items
After setting up the vendor and contract, the next step is to upload the catalog and contract file.
At this time, uploading the Catalog is done by inTEAM. Please send the Catalog Upload file (or files) to your inTEAM representative.
After uploading the Catalog, any items already in the Catalog will be updated. Any new items will be added. Any items that were in the Catalog previously but are no longer in the Catalog will be made inactive (any Catalog Items on another active Contract will not be made inactive, but they will not appear on this Contract).
During the upload, Catalog Items with GTINs will have been automatically matched and enhanced with data from the Nourish to Flourish Database.
Review & Fix Catalog Items
Once the Catalog Items have been uploaded and the Published (see Publish to Members section), members can start accessing the products and pricing.
Additionally, GDSN Connect contains a set of data quality checks to alert you to any data errors that must be addressed before a member can actually use that item. When a member tries to adopt that item, each member must fix it themselves. However, you can fix the item for them, you do it once for all members. These appear with a variety of error messages in the Notes column.
Viewing Items for Review
In order to help users quickly and easily identify items in the catalog that require attention, we have implemented a couple of filtering options. One of these options allows users to filter the catalog to only show items with errors, so they can focus their attention on resolving those issues. In addition, users can also filter the catalog by category, enabling them to view only a specific set of items at once. For instance, if a user only wants to see items related to dairy products, they can filter the catalog to show only those items. Moreover, users can also filter the catalog by error type, allowing them to view items that have a particular type of error. With these filtering options, users can quickly and efficiently navigate through the catalog and focus their attention on resolving any errors or issues that may arise.
To access the items that require correction, please follow these steps:
- On the left-hand side, click on the Vendors module.
- Locate the specific Vendor from the Vendors list.
- Once you've found the Vendor, select the "Items" tab.
- From there, choose "Manage Catalog" to access the items that need to be corrected.
On the Manage Catalog page you can break down the items by Procurement Catalog, view Only Items with Errors or by Error filter.
Description of Errors & Notes
Catalog Item Errors
GDSN Connect perform some checks on the Catalog Items themselves to make sure that there isn’t any confusion between the vendor and the customer, or how the product is setup in GDSN Connect. These would ideally fixed in the Catalog Upload file prior to uploading.
- No Vendor Product ID - The Vendor Product ID is not provided for this item. This is the unique ID used by the vendor to identify that product.
- Duplicate Vendor Product ID – There are two catalog items with the same Vendor Product ID.
For items that weren’t matched automatically by GTIN, or when the GTIN wasn’t published to the Nourish to Flourish Database, they must be manually search for and setup.
- No Match - No item was found matching the imported information and searching the N2F Database for a Branded or Generic item is needed.
If an item is not found searching N2F DB, then the nutrient and other information can be added manually. If the Catalog Item has a GTIN, then we can request that the manufacturer publish the product into the Nourish to Flourish Database.
Data Quality Errors
Once an item has been matched to an N2F item (or setup manually), GDSN Connect automatically evaluates the item’s data to make sure that everything is needed for a member.
- Bad Item Data – This item is missing critical attributes, such as serving site, certain nutrients, or inventory setup values.
- Discontinued Item – The associated item from the N2F Database is no longer present, usually when a manufacturer discontinues an item.
- No GPC Classification – The item does not have a GPC classification setup, which is used to categorize an item in GDSN Connect and in a users’ system.
- No Net Weight - The item does not have a net weight entered, which is required for generic items.
These are some other options within the Notes filter to help identify items with other attributes; these are not errors.
- Without Notes – Item has been matched to an N2F item and does not have any errors or other notes.
- Contains USDA Foods – An indicator that shows that the item contains USDA Foods, either as a Direct Delivered (brown box) product or a Processed End Product.
Catalog Item Errors
The Vendor Product ID is the unique identifier used by the vendor to identify that product within their catalog. This is typically a number provided to their customers. For vendors who also manufacturer the product themselves, this may be the same as the Manufacturer Product ID. It’s important to have this number setup uniquely in GDSN Connect for each Vendor because this is what is used to look for the existing product to update during subsequent catalog uploads (price updates, new catalog info, etc.).
No Vendor Product ID
A Vendor Product ID is important to uniquely identify a product with that vendor. When this is missing, it means that the Catalog Upload cannot precisely match the items to provide an update, and instead will create a new Catalog Item.
NOTE: The Vendor Product ID (assigned by the Vendor) is usually different from the Manufacturer Product ID (which is assigned by the manufacturer). However, for smaller Vendors that don’t have their own internal tracking system, or when the Vendor is the Manufacturer, then these values may be the same.
The Vendor Product ID can be edited on the Catalog Item Detail page.
To correct this error:
- Identify the item that missing a Vendor Product ID.
- Access the Catalog Item Info Tab.
- Locate the row dedicated to the Vendor Product ID
- Update the necessary information in that row.
Duplicate Vendor Product ID
A Vendor Product ID is important to uniquely identify a product with that vendor. When there are multiple Catalog Items that have the same Vendor Product ID, it means that the Catalog Upload cannot precisely match the items to provide an update and may overwrite the same item with the wrong information.
This is often due to a typo that can be easily fixed on the Catalog Item Detail page.
To correct this error:
- Identify the item that has a Duplicate Vendor Product ID.
- Access the Catalog Item Info Tab.
- Locate the row dedicated to the Vendor Product ID
- Update the necessary information in that row.
Catalogs are automatically matched during the Catalog Upload process. If an item was not able to be matched, then it is flagged with a “No Match” error and you must manually match the item yourself using the Search N2F Database tool.
NOTE: If the Catalog Item contains a GTIN that did not automatically match, it may be because the manufacturer has not yet published that item to the Nourish to Flourish Database. If that’s the case, you may need to request that they publish their items before you set them up. You can download a list of Catalog Items that meet this criteria by filtering for the “No Match” note, downloading the catalog (see Downloading Catalog Items), and then filtering for items that have a GTIN. If you need to setup the item immediately, you will need to set it up as a manual item (see Add Item Manually).
Search N2F Database Tool
The Search N2F Database feature allows users to initiate a search within the database. This feature can be utilized not only to search for items within the database but also to replace incorrectly matched items or fix items that have been discontinued. With the search, users can easily navigate through the database to find the exact item they need, using various search parameters and filters.
There are two types of searches:
- Smart Search: The Smart Search will use the information from the uploaded Catalog Item to search for likely matches from the N2F Database and return the top 50 possible matches. This is the recommended starting point.
- Standard Search: The standard Search will use the entered search terms from the search box for a direct search of the N2F Database. This is a backup method if the Smart Search didn’t return the appropriate result.
There are two types of products that you can search for, with either a Smart or Standard Search:
- Branded: Branded items are those with a specific manufacturer product ID from a specific manufacturer and which contain a GTIN.
- Generic: Generic items provide nutrient and pack size information from USDA and other official source for products that don’t contain a GTIN. Fresh produce items commonly fall into this category.
Lastly, if you can’t find a product in the N2F Database, then you can manually setup an item (see Add Item Manually).
Recommended Search Process
The general recommended matching process follows the following flowchart. However, you may find that a different process works better for you depending on the type of product.
Selecting a Branded Item
For Branded items, if you don’t find the item via the Smart Search, we recommend entering the Brand Name in the search box, and then sort or filter on the Mfr Product ID field to look for the possible match. The Mfr Product ID value from GDSN may be similar to but have fewer or more characters than the value provided by the Vendor.
The information from the Catalog is provided in the upper left so you can compare to the information from the N2F Database.
If that doesn’t provide you with the correct product, then you can also do another search by entering other information that may be helpful, such as key terms, manufacturer product ID, etc.
Selecting a Generic Item
With Generic items, to find process is a bit different. Generic items can be setup with multiple serving or preparation styles. For example, the Vendor item may be a case of whole 138 count apples, but the apple can be served whole, sliced, pureed, etc. Each of these values may have different nutrients and servings per pack values, depending on how the district uses the item. For these Generic items, you would select all possible matches, and then your members would select the specific one(s) they want to setup and use. Additionally, the Net Weight is required for these items as the N2F Database contains the “Servings per Pound” values (e.g., from USDA Food Buying Guide) but it needs to scale those values to the Net Weight as sold by the vendor.
- Find for correct “As Purchased” item
- Select all “As Served” options to make these available to members for menu planning purposes
- Specific serving size, prep style, processed produce, etc.
- Accurate nutrients, meal credits, & servings per pound
- Individual wrapped/portion control items should match to a specific serving size
- Enter the correct Net Weight for the pack to ensure proper forecasting.
Add Item Manually
Adding an item manually is the last resort for when you can’t find an appropriate match in the N2F Database. When it comes to adding information for manual items, the process is similar to what you may have done in the past. While catalog data can automatically add some information, such as product name and description, you will need to source additional details, such as nutrient information, from the manufacturer or vendor. It is important to note that there are minimum required fields that must be completed, and any missing data will be flagged for later review.
Fixing Other Errors
Bad Item Data
Items are flagged with a “Bad Data Error” when one of the critical values on the matched N2F item is missing or invalid. This includes serving size, calories, saturated fat, sodium, and the inventory setup values (servings per pack, etc.).
To address "Bad Item Data" errors, you can access the Catalog Item and its associated N2F Items to view and edit the relevant information. By doing so, you can correct any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in the data, which will ensure that your system functions smoothly and efficiently. This process is essential for maintaining the integrity of your data and ensuring that your system operates at its best.
- Locate the item and click on the three dots located to the left of it.
- Choose the "Edit" option from the menu that appears.
- The Catalog Item Info tab will open. Navigate to the "Associated N2F Items" tab.
- The "Edit associated N2F Item" popout will appear.
- Add the missing information to resolve the issue with the item's data.
On the Associated N2F Items tab, users have the option to view and edit matched items, which is particularly helpful in the case of Generic items where multiple matches are allowed. The primary item, which provides the nutrition information in the Catalog visible to the members, is configurable and can be changed at any time. In the event that you've matched an incorrect item, you can simply press "Unmatch" to remove it from the list, and then re-run the Search N2F Database from the main page.
To fix the “Bad Item Data” error, select "Edit" for the item(s) with the error to view and edit its details.
Data from the manufacturer is read-only, but users can add missing data as needed. Any changes made by the co-op to this information will be pushed out to members just like other updates from the manufacturer.
It's worth noting that editing one of these items from the N2F Database means that the co-op becomes the "source" for the member item. Therefore, any changes made by the manufacturer must be reviewed and accepted by the co-op before those updates are communicated to the members.
Items which have the “Discontinued Item” error are those where the source record from the N2F Database is no longer present. When this happens, the Catalog Item will no longer receive updates from the manufacturer and is treated in GDSN Connect as if it was manually entered (e.g., all fields become editable). None of these records are deleted from a member’s local system or from the catalog because even though products may be discontinued, it may take a while for them to be completely used from the supply chain or a district’s warehouse.
Depending on the specific reason and type of item, it may be fine to leave this error in the catalog if it was truly discontinued by the manufacturer and you will need to setup a new Catalog Item for the replacement item from the manufacturer. For Generic items, it may need to be rematched.
No GPC Classification
The GPC Classification is used to automatically categorize a product into a procurement category. When a Catalog Item is matched to an N2F record, the GPC Classification should automatically be populated. GDSN Connect uses the GPC Classification instead of the Procurement Category because each member may have a different mapping of GPC Classification to their own set of Procurement Categories.
Some items may have been matched but are missing the GPC Classification. To rectify this error:
- Select the item that requires the GPC Classification.
- The Catalog Item Info tab will open, choose the option to Specify GPC Classification.
- Select the Family, Class, and Brick
If assistance is needed in determining the GPC classification, users can click on the provided hyperlink for further guidance.
No Net Weight
The Net Weight is required for Catalog Items matched to a Generic record from the N2F Database. Branded items should automatically be assigned a Net Weight.
The reason for needing the Net Weight for Generic items is because that information is typically provided in a Per Pound basis, so it will need scaled to the net weight of the specific item.
Make Visible to Members
When you are ready to make this Vendor and its Contracts and Catalog Items available to members, select "Visible to Members" on the Vendor Info Tab. When this option is disabled, your members will no longer be able to setup the Vendor, view the Catalogs, or download new items from the Catalog.
NOTE: It will not remove the Vendor, nor will it delete any items that they have already added to their local system.
NOTE: Some of these may make sense to put in a separate story/guide.
Re-uploading All Catalog Items
The vendor catalog can be re-uploaded to update or correct the information on the catalog, including pricing data.
NOTE: This will not unmatch items if it had been previously matched (unless the GTIN of the previously matched item is different than the GTIN in the file).
Any items that were in the catalog but not in the new file (and not on a different contract) will be marked inactive.
The items are matched on Vendor Product ID. If the Vendor Product ID is blank, then the GTIN or the Brand Name/Mfr Product ID are matched.
Manage Catalog Items
Navigate to Manage Catalog items
View Catalog Item Detail
Navigate to the detail. Describe each page.
If you accidentally match the Catalog Item to the wrong item from the N2F Database, you can Unmatch the item to re-match it. This can be done in one of two ways:
Click on N2F Item Name. When you select a new item it will replace all the previously matched item(s).
Unmatch on Catalog Item Detail > Associated N2F Items tab.
Downloading Catalog Items
Downloading the Catalog can be useful to help work on some of the items offline. To create and download an Excel file of the currently filtered Catalog Items, right-click on the table, select “Export”, and then “Excel Export (.xlsx)”. Save the file to your computer.