BMEcat is a catalog exchange standard, created in 1999 and developed by the German association BME - Bundesverband Materialwirtschaft, Einkauf und Logistik e. V.. The standard is based on XML, is fully open and has no fees, its latest version is BMEcat 2005.
All partners in the supply chain (manufacturers, wholesalers, vendors) are exchanging more and more data, and the different data format complicates the process. The use of BMEcat significantly reduces costs for all participating companies by standardizing communication between information systems.
The BMEcat standard consists of two parts: a header part (HEADER) and a transaction part (T_NEW_CATALOG, T_UPDATE_PRODUCTS or T_UPDATE_PRICES).
The header contains general information about the entire file, e.g. sender and recipient details. The transaction part contains details of all directories, among others:
Features from classifications such as ETIM or ECLASS
Custom features e.g. additional descriptions, keywords
Images and additional documents e.g. instructions, certificates, technical drawings, videos, thumbnails
References to other products e.g. accessories, alternative products, spare parts
Pricing, ordering and additional fees e.g. tiered pricing, minimum quantity or order quantity range
Logistics data e.g. packaging variants
Tree structure of data, if there is a custom classification of products
BMEcat provides for two types of fields: required and optional.
Cooperation with ETIM classification
Every three years or so, a new version of the vendor guidelines appears on the site, and currently the latest is ETIM BMEcat V5-0 of 2021. In addition to the three BMEcat transactions, ETIM uses its own fourth transaction, T_NEW_PRODUCTDATA. The new transaction makes it easy to provide the most important data for new products (only the most important data to import the product into the database without pricing and logistics data). Additional data will be provided in another step. As a result of omitting elements that are defined as mandatory in the BMEcat 2005 specification, the T_NEW_PRODUCTDATA transaction leads to a data file that is not 100% compliant with the BMEcat specification. This is a conscious decision by ETIM International to facilitate the transfer of product data at an early stage.
Depending on the country, supplier guidelines additionally:
change some optional features to required features,
set descriptive text fields (standard in ETIM text is a checkbox),
can introduce new features, e.g. in the Polish version the PKWiU code is required.
Cooperation with ECLASS classification
The Research and Development Department of the ECLASS e.V. Association has created an extension for BMEcat so that it can take full advantage of the potential of ECLASS classification. This version is called BMEcat 2005.1-advanced and is backward-compatible with BMEcat 2005, extending it with:
multilingualism (adding languages according to ISO 639-2:1998 and regions according to IETSs RFC 5646)
tree structure (attaching additional element id and parent id)
grouping elements into Aspects with ECLASS ADVANCED (containers have additional id, name and description).
BMEcat implementation, or IT tools
When planning to implement the aforementioned product classifications, it is worth making sure that current or potentially new systems are able to receive / send them. For example, the SAP Ariba system provides adaptability to ETIM and ECLASS; as for BMEcat, it supports version 1.2, but no longer supports the latest version of BMEcat 2005. Thus, it is unable to support ECLASS version ADVANCED (BASIC only) or newer versions of ETIM (based on version 2005 for many years).
A more flexible tool, e.g. PimCore, allows not only to implement product classification, but also to customize the message to be able to take full advantage of ETIM / ECLASS. This is why more informed customers are inquiring about BMEcat in addition to product classification.