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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    UPC's in Datafeeds - Another Reason To Include Them
    Hi Merchants,

    I know this has been mentioned many times before, but price comparison websites need UPC codes in datafeeds so that they may group prices with products.

    There is now another compelling reason to include UPC codes in your datafeeds. With the proliferation of smart phones such as the iPhone, bar code readers with price comparison are starting to proliferate. If you include UPC codes in your datafeeds, your products & prices will show when someone does a bar code scan for price comparison.

    My iphone application alone has 100,000 users and is growing at a rapid pace. By including UPC codes in your feeds and you can benefit from this new revenue source.

    Thanks,
    ISellStuff
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  2. #2
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    I agree, but it's not as simple as it appears.

    This is an interesting dilemna for some merchants, who fear that by including UPC information in their datafeeds, their data will be used in ways that don't generate sales (or might even reduce sales).

    Obviously, this includes price comparisons if the merchant's prices are high (which might be because the merchant provides a very high level of service that others don't provide). Quite simply, UPC codes are likely to be used more by merchants with low prices; they are less likely to be used by merchants who stress "service" or other factors that can't be compared in a price-comparison engine.

    Another issue: sophisticated algorithms can use a series of product titles and UPC codes to match items from more merchants (e.g. Merchant A offers the "Wonky Widget" with no UPC code; Merchant B offers the "Wonky Widget" with a UPC code; Merchant C offers a product with that UPC code that's titled "Wonkiest Widgetizer"). A UPC-only algorithm would never include the product from merchant A; a title-only algorithm would never include the product from merchant C. Now merchants A and C will find their products featured alongside each other, which is likely to make one of them look less favorable. (Of course, the algorithm may improperly match, if there is more than one "Wonky Widget" in the marketplace.)

    Some merchants also fear that their competitors will use the merchant's datafeed to gain unfair advantage (for example, if Merchant B uses Merchant A's datafeed to identify products to be added into inventory).

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Another issue: sophisticated algorithms can use a series of product titles and UPC codes to match items from more merchants (e.g. Merchant A offers the "Wonky Widget" with no UPC code; Merchant B offers the "Wonky Widget" with a UPC code; Merchant C offers a product with that UPC code that's titled "Wonkiest Widgetizer"). A UPC-only algorithm would never include the product from merchant A; a title-only algorithm would never include the product from merchant C. Now merchants A and C will find their products featured alongside each other, which is likely to make one of them look less favorable. (Of course, the algorithm may improperly match, if there is more than one "Wonky Widget" in the marketplace.)
    Product titles for matching are next to worthless. I just did a survey of my product title + Manufacturer matching and was so disgusted with the results that I canned it. A simple example... 10,000 items all with the title "Energizer Batteries" and the same manufacturer. This would clump 9volt, AAA, D-Cell all together and result in a really bad user experience. The second best thing, if you are not going to include UPC codes is to include Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Number.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  4. #4
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    Yes, attempting to match products by title is a horrific experience. Nearly every search is hugely over- or under-inclusive.

    But why would anyone search for "energizer batteries" anyway? Instead, they'd probably search for "energizer DC-18T battery" or something. (And then you'd need to deal with merchants who list this as the "DC18T," "Energizer 18T," "DC-18T battery," "Energizer DC18-T" and so on.)

    If it were easy to create a good price comparison engine, then it wouldn't be profitable to do so because everyone could do it.

    Another issue to deal with: what exactly is a "brand" anyway? Usually the manufacturer's name is a brand; the product may have multiple "brands" or perhaps none that's distinct from the manufacturer name.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    But why would anyone search for "energizer batteries" anyway? Instead, they'd probably search for "energizer DC-18T battery" or something. (And then you'd need to deal with merchants who list this as the "DC18T," "Energizer 18T," "DC-18T battery," "Energizer DC18-T" and so on.)
    This is a perfect example of why UPC codes are preferable. I've solved the above problem, but the compute & technical knowledge it required is out of the scope of most. Including UPC codes casts a larger net for merchants.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  6. #6
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    Doing price comparison based on UPC code is mostly useless. When I started this back in Jan, there were too many products from different merchants that were different but had same UPC codes. The Nerds & HP specifically had this problem.

    For HP, they had one UPC code for nearly 20-30 different configurations of the same base model of laptop/desktop.

  7. #7
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    Don't confuse a UPC with a SKU. UPC's are unique and assigned only to one item by the UCC. SKU's are assigned by the merchant and the same product can have different sku's at different merchants.
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