FAQs

About the OAR

All the data in the OAR, including the OAR IDs, is open and licensed under the Creative Commons Sharealike 4.0 license.

The OAR is not a member organization or a multi-stakeholder initiative. We are an open data tool that stakeholders in the sector are welcome and encouraged to contribute data to and make use of.

The OAR is completely free for any organization to contribute to, use, and download data from. The OAR does offer two Premium Features, which are available for a fee: the Embedded Map and the API. You can learn more about how they work and their pricing structures on their respective info pages.

We use “apparel” in the broad sense, so that it includes footwear, leather goods such as handbags, home textiles and linens. Many facilities will produce for multiple categories, with some products cutting across different categories. You'll see this reflected in facility data in the OAR.

The OAR is available in over 100 languages via Google Translate. On the OAR map, choose "Select Language" at the top of the page to choose your preferred language. We also are working to translate OAR resources into languages most spoken by our users. Check out our Translated Resources page to learn more.

Data in the OAR

When you upload your supplier list, the OAR offers a “replace list” function. Having logged into your OAR account and navigated to the “Contribute” section, you will follow the same upload process as on previous occasions. Once you upload your most up to date supplier list, you will see a dropdown that reads, “Select a list to replace,” immediately above the submit button. You can use this dropdown to select your old supplier list, which will be superseded in the public system by your new list. Any facilities that you no longer work with will automatically no longer be affiliated with your organization, although they will remain in the OAR as a listed facility, so that their name and address information, and unique OAR ID, is not lost.

Through your Contributor account, you will be able to see previous lists that you have uploaded to the site. Those you have replaced over time will be marked as “Inactive”.

If you accidentally miss this step and would like to make a list inactive, contact our team and we can help.

In the “My lists” section of your account, search for the facility you would like to remove and click “REMOVE.”

The best practice for this is to add the new facility details to your existing list in CSV/Excel and re-submit the entire list to the OAR to be processed by the system. When uploading an entire list again, you can choose the option to “Select a list to replace” and replace the old list with your new list.

It is not possible to change the name of a list after it has been uploaded to the OAR. As a workaround, you could upload the list again with your preferred name and choose the option to “Select a list to replace,” replacing the incorrectly named list.

When a facility is entered into the OAR for the first time, the first name and address submitted will appear as the primary address as the default. However, the OAR Team is aware that stronger names and addresses for a facility may subsequently be entered into the tool and appear in the “Also known as” and “Other addresses” section of the facility profile. As part of ongoing moderation efforts, the OAR team works to consistently review data contained in the tool, promoting more accurate and detailed name and address information to be the primary entry for a facility, in line with its Moderation Policy. If you come across an entry in the tool whose primary name and address information you believe should be updated, please email the team with the OAR ID number, details of the name and address you believe should be the primary entry and the reason why, and the OAR Team will look into your request.

The OAR Team welcomes suggestions from users who have local knowledge of a facility and believe they have more accurate GPS coordinates for a facility. Please submit the details to the team, including the OAR ID number and your alternative GPS coordinates and the team will review your submission in line with our Moderation Policy.

The Open Apparel Registry publishes the name, address and unique OAR ID for each factory in the database, as well as the source of the data. If a brand has contributed a supplier list, they will be listed as a data source alongside the factories they have submitted.

The “report a data issue” link should be used to report any errors in the data or bugs in the system. It is not a mechanism to publish grievances or raise concerns about issues in a facility.

Increasing numbers of fashion brands and parent companies are now publishing their supplier lists and sharing that information publicly on their websites. Alongside stakeholders submitting their supplier lists themselves, the OAR Team has uploaded many of these publicly available supplier lists to the site, in order to grow the size and quality of our data set. Where data has been uploaded by the OAR Team in the name of a brand, this is marked with “Public List” to indicate that the brand itself has not uploaded the data.

When "public data" is uploaded, the owner of that public data is contacted and encouraged to take over management of that list on the OAR themselves. We welcome organizations taking over their public lists on the site, to better manage the data and reap the benefits the OAR brings. If you're an organization with a "public list" on the OAR, contact the OAR team to take over management of your data, or schedule a call to find out more.

The OAR Team can hand over control of the [Public List] to your brand team for you to manage and update, as desired. Please contact us to arrange this switchover.

Processing data in the OAR

List items are scheduled for processing as soon as they are uploaded. The size of the list and the number of other lists being processed at the same time will affect how long it will take to complete the processing of all the items in a list. The email address associated with the OAR account through which the data was uploaded will receive an email when the upload is complete.

Each row from a contributed CSV file is processed separately. Rows that are matched successfully or rows from which new OAR facilities are created will appear in searches immediately after processing. If the application requires the contributor to verify a potential match, the facility will not be searchable until the match is approved or rejected. If the application encounters an error while processing a row, it will not appear in search results.

There are a variety of reasons that the final number of facilities that populate the map from your account is lower than the number of entries in your CSV file:

- The quality of data of some entries in your supplier list was not of sufficient quality to be processed by the OAR system. These facilities will appear with “ERROR” alongside them when you view them in the “My Lists” section, but will never appear in the map itself.

- Some facilities in your list require the contributor to verify a potential match. These facilities will not appear in your list until the match is confirmed or rejected.

- If there were duplicate entries in the uploaded list (NOTE: please clean your list of duplicates before uploading), and those duplicates matched with a facility already existing in the database, then they would be combined to one facility entry.

The OAR uses Google for its geocoding. Whilst the system is not perfect, it is widely considered best in class.

If you would like to request an update to the GPS coordinates of a facility you see in the OAR, please contact our team.

There are four types of Error messages you could receive about a facility when uploading your data:

ERROR: this error status means something unexpected has happened. If you see this status once your facility list has been processed, please report it to the OAR team who will investigate the issue further.

ERROR_PARSING: this means that there is a problem with the data itself, rather than the address, such as data being split over multiple lines within a cell; the data being incomplete, e.g. missing the facility name, country name or address details.

ERROR_GEOCODING: this is a system error, rather than there being an issue with the data. If you have facilities on your list with this error message alongside them, you will need to resubmit them to the OAR. You can do this either by submitting a new list with just the facilities showing this message on the list, or you can resubmit your entire list again, replacing the original upload. In the future, we will be building an “automatic retry” function so that users do not have to resubmit the facility details which have produced this result. Keep checking back for updates.

ERROR_MATCHING: this means that the address details have been run through the geocoding process, but there is an issue with the address and the geocoder cannot locate it. Common errors include inaccuracies in the address details, e.g. when the country specified does not match the rest of the address details (e.g. an address in Athens being listed with the country “United Kingdom”); a city name that does not exist; insufficient address details being submitted for the system to pick up.

Use the details above to investigate what may have been the cause of the error you were receiving. Once you have located the cause, update that facility data in your full CSV/Excel file and upload the complete facility list again, replacing the previous list when doing so. We recommend this process, so that when users are filtering by list on the OAR, they do not see separate lists with just the facilities for which you had received Errors.

Email the OAR team and we are happy to deactivate any old lists for you.

The OAR team never deletes data from the database. The list from this company will remain in the database, displaying the date when the data was last updated. There are stakeholders who find this data valuable from the perspective of understanding historical affiliations and supply chain changes over time, even if a brand no longer exists.

Uploading to the OAR

- Check you have not accidentally changed the column titles in the OAR Contributor Template, switched the order of the columns, or added any additional columns. Column headers must be “country”, “name”, “address” (in lowercase). Information must not flow into other cells beyond these three columns. If you have purchased the OAR Embedded Map, you may have additional columns in the template shared with you. Ensure the headers from that template have not been changed.

- Ensure that you do not have any blank cells in the country, name, or address columns, or any merged cells in file. You can quickly check for blank cells by applying filters to the spreadsheet.

- Check that your file uses commas to separate or delimit the individual fields, not semicolons, tabs, or other characters.

- Ensure that your file size is 5MB or less.

- If you're uploading a CSV file, ensure that it is file type UTF-8

- Currently, your list must be in English. The OAR will not be able to accept non-Roman characters/languages at this time.

If you are still experiencing issues uploading to the OAR, please contact the team.

The OAR Contributor Template is a CSV file and you may be asked to select a program to open it with. The best programs to use are Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets. Some computers default to opening in Notepad, or similar. You will need to right click and force the file to open in Excel or Numbers if you encounter this issue.

We understand that organizations all format their factory lists in slightly different ways. In order for our algorithm to effectively sort through, clean and match the data contributed to the platform, supplier information must be uploaded in a consistent manner, with only three columns for country, facility name and facility address.

If your supplier list is currently separated out into more columns than this, we recommend two options:

1) Follow the instructions in this tutorial for a simple Excel formula that will enable you to combine data from multiple cells into one cell.

2) Alternatively, you can download ABLEBITS, an Excel, Google Sheets or Numbers add-on. This add-on allows you to easily merge multiple columns for addresses into one column in a matter of seconds.

Note to Embedded Map Users: You may have more than 3 columns in your template. Please email us if you are experiencing difficulties.

The three stages of processing the information in your facility list take time, for which reason you will initially see a page with a series of numbers, blank columns for country name, name and address and the status “UPLOADED” for each facility.

List items are scheduled for processing as soon as they are uploaded, but it is difficult to say with certainty how long it will take to complete the processing. The size of the list and the number of other lists being processed at the same time will affect how long it will take to complete the processing of all the items in a list. You will receive an automated email when your list finishes processing.

Where the OAR’s matching algorithm is not confident enough to make a match automatically to existing facilities in the tool, the contributor will be asked to “Confirm” or “Reject” the match using buttons within the application. Until the user has completed this process, these entries from the facility list will not appear in searches of the map (either as new facilities or matched to existing facilities).

Additionally, if your list returned any Errors for facilities, those facilities will not appear until the Error is resolved.

This step of your upload is crucial to the development of the OAR and helps to refine a tool for the entire industry. This process also helps confirm matches that the algorithm might not have picked up, ensuring that all of the data matches come through.

If one or more potential matches to an existing facility are found, but the application is not confident enough to make the match automatically, you will be asked to “Confirm” or “Reject” the match.

We ask that you compare the potential matches to the processed address from your list. For those addresses which you believe are a match, click “Confirm.” Where the algorithm has incorrectly queried a match, click “Reject.”

You do not have to process your entire list in one go. You can break the process into more manageable chunks of time and stop wherever you like. The system will automatically save your work, meaning you can return to pick up where you left off. You can use the “search” filter within the “My lists” section of your account to jump to a specific entry in your list.

There will be instances where it is hard to tell whether facilities returned as potential matches are the same or not.

Here is how our team thinks about matching facilities, when going through similar processes in our moderation work:

1. Are there any major variations in the facility name? If so, is that due to translation or does it lead you to believe it is a different facility (i.e. Washing vs. Knitting Facility). If the names are different, we would reject the match, as they are likely independent facilities operating from one multi-use building.

2. Are there any major variations in the address that make you think that this could be at a different location? Does it have a different street name or number? Sometimes, addresses will be the same, but with items in different orders. These would be considered a match. However, if street names or numbers are different, we would likely reject the match, unless we had on-the-ground information telling us otherwise.

3. Do the entries have different plots or unit numbers, even if the rest of the address is the same? In these cases, we ask that you reject the match, as this is either a separate facility, run by a different management team, or there are multiple units at the same address and therefore needs to be treated as a distinct facility.

If you're still unsure about whether you have encountered a match, you're always welcome to email the case to the OAR team for further investigation.

This means that the OAR algorithm thinks that there may be a few different potential matches for your facility (like if there are multiple facilities at the same address or different units within a compound) and is giving you several options to choose from. Confirm the option that is a match to your facility, or reject them all if none are a match. If all of the options you see below your facility appear to be the same place, it's possible that the algorithm has uncovered a duplicate entry in the OAR. In these instances, the OAR team will receive a duplicate report, so all you need to do is confirm one of them as a match to your facility (if it is a match). We'll take care of moderating the rest!

UPLOADED: this means that the facility has been uploaded to the OAR and will begin the three processing steps each facility goes through on the system.

PARSED: this is the first of the three processing steps, in which the line is separated into distinct country, name, and address fields and the country field is verified against a list of known countries.

GEOCODED: the address and country are submitted to a service that returns a location on the globe corresponding to that country and address. This allows the application to show the location of the facility on a map. When a facility is listed as “geocoded” it means it has been successfully located and will appear on the OAR map.

GEOCODED_NO_RESULTS: this means that the name and address details have been submitted to the geocoder but do not contain sufficient information for the geocoder to return a result and plot the facility on the OAR map.

MATCHED: this means that the facility has been successfully processed and located by the system and matches with an existing entry in the OAR. Click through the listing to see who the other Contributors are that have added this facility to the database.

POTENTIAL_MATCH: this means that the algorithm that sits behind the OAR has detected several similarities between the name and address details submitted on your list for the facility and a facility that already exists in the OAR, but not with enough confidence to assume a match. For this reason, manual intervention is required to “Confirm” or “Reject” the match. We ask that you compare the potential matches to the processed address from your list. For those addresses which you believe are a match, click “Confirm.” Where the algorithm has incorrectly queried a match, click “Reject.” By confirming, your facility will be matched to an existing facility in the OAR and allocated a pre-existing OAR ID. By rejecting a match, a new facility will be created in the system and allocated a new, unique ID.

CONFIRMED_MATCH: when you have manually confirmed a potential match on your list, the status will update to CONFIRMED_MATCH.

NEW_FACILITY: this means that a facility has been successfully processed and located by the system and, because it is the first time this facility has been submitted to the OAR, created as a new facility in the database. As it is a new facility in the database, it will only show one Contributor, until such time as other organization(s) upload the same facility to the database. A NEW_FACILITY will also be created when a POTENTIAL_MATCH is rejected.

ERROR: this error status means something unexpected has happened. If you see this status once your facility list has been processed, please report it to the OAR team who will investigate the issue further.

ERROR PARSING: this means that there is a problem with the data itself, rather than the address, such as data being split over multiple lines within a cell; the data being incomplete, e.g. missing the facility name, country name or address details.

ERROR_GEOCODING: this is a system error, rather than there being an issue with the data. If you have facilities on your list with this error message alongside them, you will need to resubmit them to the OAR. You can do this either by submitting a new list with just the facilities showing this message on the list, or you can resubmit your entire list again, replacing the original upload. In the future, we will be building an “automatic retry” function so that users do not have to resubmit the facility details which have produced this result. Keep checking back for updates.

ERROR MATCHING: this means that the address details have been run through the geocoding process, but there is an issue with the address and the geocoder cannot locate it. Common errors include inaccuracies in the address details, e.g. when the country specified does not match the rest of the address details (e.g. an address in Athens being listed with the country “United Kingdom”); a city name that does not exist; insufficient address details being submitted for the system to pick up.

We encourage users to look carefully at the address details that have produced this error message to troubleshoot the issue, including running searches in Google Maps. Users may need to reach out to the supplier in question to obtain more accurate address details.

For each of the three “ERROR” states above, users can click on the row to read more details about the cause of the error.

DELETED: this status appears when a facility has been deleted from the OAR database. It is no longer searchable through the map, but a historical record of its existence remains in the back-end of the OAR database. Only the OAR Team have the ability to delete a facility from the database. Instances in which a facility may be deleted from the database include non-apparel facilities having been incorrectly added to the tool, including food or electronics manufacturers. To view the OAR’s Moderation Policy, click here.

REMOVED: if an organization no longer wants to be visibly connected with a facility on the OAR, it can remove it from its list, without deleting it from the OAR. The facility still exists publicly in the OAR and is searchable on the map, but its affiliation with that organization is no longer visible. Instances in which a facility may be removed from a list include if a brand is no longer working with a facility.

The OAR includes a mechanism “Claim a facility” which enables facility owners and / or senior management to “claim” their facility profile on the OAR and add additional details including production capabilities, MOQs, lead times, certifications and more.

To claim your profile(s), search for your facility on the tool and click “Claim this facility”. If you do not already have an account on the OAR, you will be asked to create a free account. Once you have done this, you will be asked to complete three preliminary steps to verify your identity, which should take no more than 5 minutes. Once your claim has been reviewed and approved, you will be able to update facility location and address details, specify production details and certifications, share order minimums and lead times and add information about your head office and parent company (if applicable).

Check out our "Data in the OAR" page to learn more.

There are no requirements to update your data on the Open Apparel Registry at any specific cadence, but data is as valuable as it is accurate. As you're considering how often to update, here are a few things to consider:

1. How often are your lists of suppliers changing? How long does it feel comfortable to have suppliers on your list with whom you no longer work?

2. Are you a member of any pledges or initiatives that require public disclosure on a regular basis? If you're considering using the OAR as your tool for disclosure in those cases, you may want to plan your upload schedule around those requirements, at a minimum.

3. It is certainly best practice to upload your data at least once a year. We are finding that more and more stakeholders are increasing their cadence to twice a year or quarterly (some even more often), to ensure that they are working with the most accurate data possible.

The OAR ID

Check out our OAR ID page to learn more about the OAR ID, how it's made, and how you can use it.

There is no obligation for a facility to use its OAR ID. The purpose of the OAR ID is to create one common ID per factory, which is enables syncing across multiple databases. It does not need to replace other IDs, but can be used in parallel for data-holding organizations to sync their data with others.

The OAR API

Unlike manual data contributions to the OAR, the API works on a per facility basis. When pushing data to the OAR via API, users are able to choose for each facility whether or not to be listed publicly as the data Contributor, e.g. as "Higg". When users choose to contribute anonymously, their contributions are listed as "A multi-stakeholder initiative", "A service provider", "A civil society organization" etc.

The OAR offers a program for qualifying civil society organizations to apply for free/discounted access to this Premium Feature. Check out our free/discounted API access policy to see if you qualify. If you believe you do, apply through this form.

API users need to ensure that they are including the prefix "Token" when calling the API. Details can be found in our "API token instructions" documentation (be sure to pay particular attention to the “Additional notes on API tokens" section).

Embedded Map

Setting Up:

Upload spreadsheet(s) of your supplier data (including any additional data points you would like to display on your embedded map) to the OAR (we’ll give you a template to use once you sign up). You’ll need to register for an account, if you have not already done so. If you have an OAR API integration, your embedded map data will automatically pull from there.

Navigate to your OAR Settings menu and then select Embed.

In the Embed tab of your OAR Settings, customize your map’s data points, branding, and size (you’ll be able to see a map preview as you work).

Copy the automatically generated code, containing your embedded map settings, and add the code to your website.


Maintenance:

Update your data in the OAR and see the updates on your embedded map. Note: all changes are made in OAR. There is no option for editing the data directly in the embedded map.

As needed, adjust the data fields, branding, and size of your map in the OAR Embed Settings to generate updated code to add to your site.

The OAR Embedded Map is added to your site as a raw iframe tag, so your website must be using a CMS that supports adding raw iframe tags (most do!).

Here are a couple of items for your tech team to consider:

- The embedded map is added to your site as a raw iframe tag, so your website must be using a CMS that supports adding raw iframe tags in order to use the embedded map.

- One of the configurable settings for the embedded map is the map size. You can choose a specific pixel height and width, or you can set the width to 100%, which will automatically take up the full width of your page, and then you can choose the corresponding height. If you select 100% width, you will not have additional padding on the sides of your embedded map, which could affect the user experience while scrolling on the page. We recommend thoroughly testing on multiple devices and screen sizes if using the 100% width feature.

All active, public lists associated with your Contributor account on the OAR will be pulled into your embedded map. If you have one active, public list, it will use that. If you have multiple active, public lists, it will pull all of them and users will be able to filter by list on the map itself.

The answer to this question will depend on the OAR Embedded Map package that you choose. Embed and Embed+ allow you to add Transparency Pledge fields [Parent company, Type of product, Number of workers], as well as Type of Facility. All other packages include those fields and unlimited additional data points. Those data points could include (but are not limited to):

- % female workers

- Tier

- % migrant workers

- Unionization / worker representation at facility

- % capacity utilization

- Length of relationship with facility

- Responsible sourcing / audit results

- Social / environmental improvement programme

- Water use

- GHG emissions

We won’t put an exact number on it, as every organization and person is different, but once you have adjusted your embedded map data and settings to your requirements, adding it to your website is as simple as copying and pasting the code for the embedded map onto the back-end of your website.

It depends. Changes to your data fields or styling will not require a code update, as that data is stored in the OAR database, rather than in the code itself. Changes to the size of your map will require copying your updated Embed code to your website. Should you wish to adjust your Embed size settings after you’ve set up your map, you will need to make those adjustments in the Embed tab of the OAR, copy your new Embed code, and then replace your old code on your website.

No. The OAR Embedded Map will not display additional contributor information for your facilities. If users wish to view this information, they will need to visit the Open Apparel Registry directly.

Nope! While the facility profile on OAR includes links to claim a facility or to suggest a data edit, those links are not included on the embedded map version. People will be able to search and view your facilities on the embedded map, but they will not be able to contribute suggestions or data that you need to review.

Because of the way the embedded map is designed, it is essentially loading a new page inside your current website. This means it is not actually loading any content directly into your website that could disrupt the surrounding page or other pages. From a technical perspective, the OAR cannot see any data or content on the surrounding page.

The content on your embedded map is being pulled directly from the data that has been contributed through your profile on the Open Apparel Registry. You are able to update that data yourself as often as you wish - including removing facilities you are no longer working with.