Track and trace: Sector hunts for a solution
What do people along the supply chain want to happen with track and trace legislation on tobacco products?
“Wholesalers are working hard to meet the requirements for new stock as it comes to market. But they need clear guidance on how they proceed when the scanning equipment and software is not available for technical reasons beyond their control.
“HMRC has indicated that wholesalers should continue trading as normal if they’re unable to comply because of software issues, but they need formal notification that this wouldn’t be considered noncompliance by HMRC.
Retailers also need reassurance that they’re not breaking the law in such circumstances.”
James Bielby, Chief Executive, FWD
“We have countless conversations with members who are growing increasingly concerned with the lack of information and support provided by HMRC throughout the introduction of these regulations.
“The short timeframe for implementation, delay in software solutions and software-testing issues have caused significant problems for retailers and wholesalers and mean they risk non-compliance when new products enter the supply chain.
“HMRC must provide reassurances about the enforcement of track and trace regulations to minimise any disruption.”
James Lowman, Chief Executive, ACS
WHAT THE WHOLESALERS ARE SAYING
“There are implementation issues wholesalers are facing. The current ERP system most wholesalers have doesn’t support the fully integrated software, so we have to double scan when retailers buy goods.
“The other issue was in the build-up to the launch when we were registering all the EOIDs and FIDs because there wasn’t a facility available to know if the codes were entered correctly. Because the codes were upperand lower-case sensitive, a lot of retailers were submitting incorrect numbers, so we had to redo the work we’d already done.
“There’s basic software and hardware available, but it’s not a seamless integration with our ERP system. If we want to get that from our ERP provider, it will come at a cost that’s not covered by the scheme. The deadline needs to be extended and we need more communication. The process isn’t fit for purpose yet.”
Amaan Ramzan, Managing Director, United Wholesale Grocers
The process has not been a simple one and the delays in receiving equipment, caused by HMRC not giving us provider information early enough, meant we weren’t ready to go live on the expected date. Suppliers have provided regular updates on their brands changing to track and trace stock and JTI in particular offered great support to wholesalers and retailers to ensure we’re prepared for the legislation and correctly set up on the HMRC system.
“It’s still early days, with few key packs currently in track and trace packaging, but the main concern for us is the apparent lack of urgency with some retailers to ensure they have registered correctly and given us the required information. We’ll be offering in-depot support to ensure they’ve done so and, therefore, allowing their purchases to continue unaffected.”
Neil Smith, Head of Trading, Hyperama
THE BUYING GROUP’S VIEW
“We’re committed to supporting retailers’ compliance in track and trace by communicating advice and instructions with regular retailer newsletters, magazine features and posters inside the tobacco rooms, plus several of our members have produced their own POS to advise retailers of next steps. Despite that, there are reports that as few as 30% of retailers have registered. However, our members are on hand to help retailers to register while in depot to ease the process.
“We have received no negative feedback from members about equipment other than that the initial cost and annual management charge of the system was not covered by manufacturer funding.
“My understanding is that compliant packs are starting to arrive at wholesalers now.”
Jim Brown, Senior Trading Controller, Unitas Wholesale
THE MANUFACTURER’S VIEW
“Over the past six months, JTI’s track and trace trade media campaign and website have continued to educate retailers and wholesalers on the new legislation and how it will affect them.
“This activity builds on the work we’ve been doing to raise awareness since the plans for track and trace were outlined in 2014. For wholesalers, this included the need to register for EOID and FID codes with De La Rue, as well as visiting SGS Ontrack to help source the equipment required to scan products. If a wholesaler hasn’t been in contact with SGS Ontrack, they should do as soon as possible.”
Mark Yaxley, Head of Communications, JTI