B2B Network To Automate UPC Product Information

Uniform Code Council, Inc. (UCC) subsidiary UCCnet is constructing a giant Web site that will allow companies to exchange Universal Product Code (UPC) information electronically throughout their supply chains.

The business-to-business (B2B) network will allow information about UPC products such as price changes, new-item introductions, maintenance, authorization and de-authorization, de-listing, and item searches to flow almost instantaneously from manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers.

“When a manufacturer lowers its price on a UPC product, for example, the new network will let shoppers take advantage of it almost instantaneously, instead of it taking several days to filter throughout the system as it presently does,” said David Schiliro, a spokesman for AppNet, the company chosen by UCCnet to design, build and operate the service.

The not-for-profit UCCnet plans to test the service in the second quarter of 2000 and have it fully online and operational sometime this summer.

The first phase of the project will focus on UPC information exchange. In later phases of the project, UCCnet plans to add more sophisticated processes for vendor-managed inventory, scanning-based trading, collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment, and customer-specific marketing.

Backed By $300 Billion of Supply Chain Revenues

Major manufacturers and retailers representing $300 billion (US$) of supply chain revenue have signed letters of intent to subscribe to the UCCnet online information network when it becomes available.

The companies that have committed to the service include Frito-Lay, Inc., the Kroger Co. grocery store chain, Procter & Gamble Co., Ralston Purina Co., SUPERVALU, Inc., Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., American Greetings, Tyson Foods, Inc., Spartan Stores, Inc., and H.E. Butt Grocery Co.

Another 60 companies are helping UCCnet define the requirements for the site.

“UCCnet will change the entire landscape of what e-commerce will do,” declared Mike Heschel, executive vice president of The Kroger Company. “We look at UCCnet and we see a compelling case for building a trading community that is not only more effective and efficient, but also one that transcends trading partner geography, size and proprietary links, becoming a truly universal foundation for the new business e-commerce paradigm.”

Looking for Standards

UCCnet says that its mission is “to take a global leadership role in establishing and promoting multi-industry standards for product identification, including the Universal Product Code and related electronic communications.”

By putting manufacturers, distributors and retailers in contact with each other via one Internet-based information system, UCCnet said it hopes to increase the number of trading partners that the companies have, ultimately resulting in prices driven lower by increased competition.

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