The Need for a Unique Product Identifier

We need a unique worldwide identifier for products – the equivalent of latitude and longitude for location – a Product GPS, so to speak. Google has a primer on the types of product identifiers used today, and their move to mandatory GTINs supports this need. We can do better than that though. Google also points out some of the benefits of having a unique identifier. The need for a unique identifier has never been greater, as more and more commerce shifts to mobile and online.

Such an identifier will not only make it easier for consumers to find, research, compare and buy the product they want, but will also make it easier and more cost effective for anyone in the supply chain to develop content, track, target, deliver and in general better serve potential customers. It will be a unique reference to a comprehensive record of all vital product information from price and availability to descriptions, reviews, and much more.

Some categories such as books (with ISBNs) and consumer product goods (with UPCs) generally have good identifier coverage, but the vast majority of products don’t have the benefit of a unique identifier. Even the UPC is limited in its use as a truly universal authority on product information. There is a need for a neutral, worldwide unique product identifier issuing authority, so we can have a more effective foundation for Pervasive Commerce.

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