Editor's note: today's article comes to us from Gregg London, a consultant in the field of bar codes, UPC data and compliance for over 25 years. He addresses the challenges associated with finding accurate Universal Product Code data.
The demand for accurate product information has skyrocketed. The evolution of new technologies, increasing governmental regulation of Foods and Beverages, and the growing sophistication of Consumers have placed an untenable burden on manufacturers and retailers.
User Supported (Users do the Data Entry) and/or Web Harvesting Sites.
- Pros: Low Cost - FREE to $500
- Cons: Accuracy, Poison Codes, etc.
Product Look-Up Web Services (API's, SaaS, etc.).
- Pros: Reasonable Cost - $99 to $799 Monthly
- Cons: Data is provided one record at a time, and cannot be "stored"
Sponsored Data Libraries - Manufacturer's send Products to these Firms, and pay to have their Products included in the Database.
- Pros: Somewhat reasonable Cost - FREE to $2,500 Annually to $25,000 Annually
- Cons - what if a Manufacturer doesn't participate
Complete Product Information Management Providers
- Pros: Record Count, Depth of Data (Fields), Accuracy
- Cons: Costs range from $25,000 to $125,000 Annually
The key question most frequently asked by companies seeking useful data:
Can't I get Item Information from GS1?
No...Company information (Company Name, Address, etc.) is available from GS1, but Product Information (the SKU, corresponding U.P.C., and Product Attributes) is not.
Because the U.P.C. System is VOLUNTARY. There is NO requirement for a Product to have a U.P.C. (think Mail Order, Internet, Road Side Stands, etc.). The Supply Chain (Retailers, Distributors, Importers, etc.) requires Manufacturers to have a U.P.C. Put simply, Firms that provide U.P.C. Data are "elective". And as such, can License Data for whatever they deem "appropriate".
Back to the subject:
So then, WHY is U.P.C. Data - from Sponsored Data Libraries and Complete Product Information Management Providers so EXPENSIVE?
First and foremost - the Cost to acquire Items and the Labor Cost to Enter the Data (and "check your work") is significant. Additionally, cost to re-acquire Items and/or regularly obtain updated Product Information for Packaged Food and Beverages.
Can I do it myself?
Sure, if you happen to have mid-seven figures in your Bank Account (the Top Two Sponsored Data Libraries have between 35,000 and 45,000 fully attributed Food and Spirits Items...the Top Two Product Information Management Providers have between 200,000 and 350,000 Food and Spirits Items).
For Reference: Food – Average Price of $6 per Item, Beer – Average Price of $15 per Item, Wine – Average Price of $15 per Item, and Liquor – Average Price of $35 per Item. And this does NOT include Time and Labor Cost for Data Entry.
Yes, you could obtain the Data through "questionable" means (Honey Pots, Data Scraping, etc.), but, what about accuracy, and how do you obtain Data for Items that are NOT on the Internet?
Bottom Line - ACCURATE Data is the domain of established Data Providers.
And established Data Providers spend untold tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Dollars annually to maintain an ever increasing Record Count, and insure accuracy.
So, before you say HOW MUCH, think about what it costs for Firms to maintain Data, and think about the fact that the Top Two or Three Data Providers have been doing so for more than fifteen years.
And remember, while the Data may SEEM expensive, the question should never be about a License Fee possibly exceeding an Employee's Salary, but rather, what is the Value and Perception of my Application, and what will Valid Data do for my "bottom line".
Looked at Licensing Data this way, Data is not expensive, but rather, and "investment".
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