August 2, 2022

Understanding IDs in Retail | A game changer for Stockly

Understanding IDs in Retail | A game changer for Stockly

Stockly loves IDs

@Stockly, we are building the first mutualized inventory network. In other words, we connect retailers with a global inventory so that they are never out-of-stock.

But connecting retailers and sending them stocks we can provide means two things :

  • Stockly understands each client-retailer's representation of stocks
  • Stockly can match stocks coming from other partner-retailers to fill the out-of-stocks of our clients

So how do we identify and match products between retailers who don't necessarily use the same ID system ?

One system to rule them all

The first ID system used in retail was introduced in 1973 in USA & Canda. It was called UPC -Universal Product Code - and its aim was to make it easy to identify product features (brand, size, color..) when an item is scanned. This system also allowed brands to reach new opportunities by understanding customer habits and needs.

If UPC was mainly used in USA & Canada, it's the EAN (European Article Numbering) that has now become the standard barcode symbology in global trade. It is derived from UPC and is composed of 13 numbers.

An EAN defines a specific product from a specific manufacturer. Same EANs imply same items. The perfect ID system, and it's global !

But nothing's ever perfect, and it's especially true when talking about EANs..

Juggling with IDs

After integrating with our first retailers we realized that only a few used EANs to identify their products. When not using EANs, most of them used MPNs - Manufacturer Product Number - combined with other product characteristics, and little used internal IDs to which only they had the key of understanding.

We also understood that making all these IDs match would be the only way we could build a global inventory.

So we built our own ID system using what we knew of EANs and MPNs.

EAN key points :

  • Unique for a product in a specific color and a specific size

MPN key points :

  • Specific to a brand
  • Is the same for the different sizes of the product
  • Changes for the different colors of the product

Our SID (Stockly ID) combines brand, mpn and normalized size (and sometimes a color code) to be matched with EANs.

Now with the SID, we can map all the EANs of our clients and help them fill their stock-outs by sourcing products from other retailers who don't necessarily use EANs.

@Stockly, we are working on translating IDs so that retailers can sell more through our network.