Single Source of Truth: Barcodes — not so simple and straightforward

June 5, 2024By Behind the Shelf Blog, Data Analysis and Management, Single Source of Truth for Product Content

This blog series about a single source of truth for product content is based on the webinar, Let’s Get Digital, presented for the CHPA Academy in March 2024.

by Lisa Lopez, HRG data assets manager

A single source of truth for product content is the optimal state — the most accurate, up-to-date, and approved descriptions (including barcodes) and digital images. Establishing a single source of truth for a product will lead to better outcomes for all partners using that content.

The reality is one UPC doesn’t always equal one product and there could be many reasons why. One possibility is versioning of the original item. Say a product started out as an 8oz size, then was resized to 6oz. Since the new, smaller sized product is considered a “product change,” it does not require a newly

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Lisa Lopez, data assets manager

assigned UPC — presuming the replacement item will remain once the older product moves through the supply chain. Simply put, the company could have elected to get a new UPC for the size change or kept the old UPC. If a new UPC is not assigned, retailers that have some of the 8oz item on shelf and get in a restock of the now 6oz item, will likely have a challenge with keeping their inventory straight.

There is also the issue of historical systems still in place that only store an 11-digit number for items, yet newer products to market or imports from outside North America may have a 14-digit GTIN or a 13-digit EAN. When an item is identified with a 13- or 14-digit barcode, whichever 11 digits of it are entered in the antiquated system, it will be inaccurate and sure to cause headaches in the future when trying to align data with other systems or partners.

This is where product content normalization services are critical. If you have data that has varied formats, information is missing or truncated, or you need to standardize data from multiple vendors, a reliable, experienced partner can save you from the challenges of managing it all yourself. A partner with expertise in the retail industry is even better because they can save you time and money by spotting things that might not seem out of order to the average analyst.

If you are struggling with managing your product content, contact us to discuss — we can help!