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What can Percy Pigs tell us about data management?

Knowing your product data can help you avoid empty shelves and lost revenue. Percy Pigs make the perfect case for why it's more important now than ever for businesses to understand not just what’s in their product, but where it comes from and who made it...

Everyone loves a Percy Pig. Whether you’re waiting for a bus, sitting through your tenth virtual meeting of the day or hanging off the side of a cliff, a Percy or two will get you through.

The question is: how do those Percy Pigs arrive in your hand in the first place? It’s not like they fall from trees (although what a world that would be).

The porcine delicacies have to be manufactured in a factory, shipped off to a warehouse, and eventually distributed to M&S retailers, where parents at the end of their tether can snap them up for their irritable children.

It’s not something we tend to think about. But why have Percy Pigs been taking the news by storm recently? The answer can be found in three words: Rules of origin.

Percy Pigs Hex
Sweetie worms hex

What are rules of origin?

Put simply, rules of origin say where your product is from, and by extension are used to dictate what import/export taxes should apply to it. For goods to claim they are of UK origin they need to have been wholly manufactured or ‘sufficiently processed’ in the UK.

Here’s an example: a shady fashion retailer has all of its shoes made in a country with terrible pay standards, ships them into the UK, changes all the labels and ships them back off to the EU, tariff-free. Rules of origin ensure they can’t get away with these practices.

As the UK government website makes clear, rules of origin requirements are ‘some of the most important provisions your business needs to understand and comply with’ given the UK-EU deal. Under the Brexit trade agreement, any goods originating in the UK don’t have tariffs imposed on them when imported into EU states, including Ireland.

However, Percy Pigs are actually manufactured in Germany, before being brought into the UK. From there, they’re exported to Ireland, which is where things get interesting: Under current rules, goods made in the EU, transferred to the UK and redistributed back to the EU attract a tariff.

Back in January, M&S realised that this issue wouldn’t just affect its porcine mascot; up to 2,000 of its products would be subject to new tariffs. And unsurprisingly, they aren’t the only retailers to have this problem. Back in January, at least 50 of the British Retail Consortium’s members were facing potential tariffs on re-export, according to trade policy adviser William Bain.

Know your product data to avoid empty shelves and lost revenue

Percy Pigs debacle highlights not just the trade difficulties surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, but the extent to which some businesses aren’t prepared. It’s clear that Brexit has brought rules of origin to the top of the priority list for businesses.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that businesses understand not just what’s in their product, but where it comes from and who made it. If they don’t, there’s a chance they’ll find themselves shelling out for tariffs, or seeing their stock held up at ports when they should be flying off the shelves.

Because of this, it’s crucial that companies understand their product data so they can see what actions they need to take and what questions they need to ask. Is your product wholly produced in the UK? Can you prove a product’s origin using an origin declaration or ‘importer’s knowledge’ (i.e. a document highlighting the importer knows the origin)? Would it be cheaper to rethink your supply chain entirely?

Thankfully, there’s an answer to help give businesses a clearer view through the fog. Companies that implement a successful PIM strategy can get a full overview of their product data. This allows them to see where products are manufactured, determine whether they need to obtain a proof of origin, and drive actionable insights for their business.

This is where Comma comes in: Our PIM services can help you centralise your product information and offer you a single dependable source of data. Beyond our exceptional data management platform, we’ll provide advice, delivery, consultation and support to ensure you are kept abreast of your product’s origin and its entire journey through the supply chain.

So the next time you’re sitting down to another succulent Percy Pig, think about the journey its been on and ask: do you know where a product comes from? And are your putting the right safeguards in place to ensure you can prevent a holdup at customs?

To ensure you can prove the origin of your products and stay on top of your stock, get in touch with our team today and we’ll show you how our PIM strategy can revolutionise your business.

To find out more about why data matters for rules of origin, download our guide How Well Do You Know Your Products? or contact us at hello@comma-group.com.

How well do you know your products?

In this guide, created in partnership with inRiver, we look at the specific product data challenges brands face when it comes to Rules of Origin and Sustainability.

Also, Johan Boström, Chief Product Officer of inRiver, discusses the reasons businesses benefit from better product management.

Download Guide