How Does the GDSN Work?

by Innovit Corporate Affairs | October 27, 2020 | Blog

Globally, the medical device manufacturing sector continues to grow steadily due to aging populations in developed economies, growing health concerns and the acceleration of digital health.  But like any industry, growth requires the ability to seize opportunities within expanding market channels.  And this expansion – more products in more regions – requires data exchange, and data synchronization with trading partners using industry standards like GS1’s GDSN.


The What

The Global Data Synchronization Network® (GDSN®) comprises a group of interconnected and interoperable systems called ‘data pools’ that are electronic product catalogues certified to comply with GS1 standards for sharing product master data.  A data pool is essentially an online industry database of product master data.  This product data is published by suppliers for the benefit of any customer authorized to receive this data for supply chain and commercial transaction purposes.


The GDSN enables trading partners to share ‘trusted’ product data reliably and efficiently based on global data standards from GS1.  Leveraging this network of data pools means that users, whether suppliers or data recipients, can securely exchange product and pricing data around the world using GS1 standards for data exchange, product attribution, data validation, standardized code values, messaging/file formats and message transport protocols.


The GDSN supports accurate, real‑time data sharing and trade item updates between suppliers and their approved recipients of this product data.  Typical suppliers of data include brand owners, manufacturers and distributors.  Data recipients include distributors, retailers, GPOs, hospitals & health systems and government agencies.


The Why

Suppliers and data recipients can exchange standardized and accurate product data that streamlines the processes for procurement, supply chain analytics, stock replenishment, inventory management, marketing and eCommerce with the following benefits:


  • Allow the end consumer to access trusted and up-to-date product information
  • Comply with government regulations including drug and medical device traceability, food origin, nutritional and allergen facts
  • Reduce ordering, invoicing and shipping error rates
  • Eliminate manual processes for gathering data from suppliers
  • Reduction in data management time and distribution costs
  • Bring new products to market quickly and efficiently


The How

In order to exchange product data on the GDSN, trading partners must join a data pool that has been tested and certified to meet GS1 global standards for data synchronization. These GS1 standards allow data pools to interoperate with each other in order to synchronize item and price information between buyers and suppliers around the world.  Data can be exchanged easily because the GS1 standards define a common language for:

  • File exchange using GS1 XML schemas
  • Message transport using secure AS2 protocols
  • Product attribution using a global data dictionary – the “Participants Dictionary”
  • Valid code value lists e.g. country codes, Unit_of_Measure, packaging types, clinical sizes, etc.