Bar codes, UPC’s, and wine… oh my!

by Brooks on December 16, 2009

The press, user, and industry response to 2.2 has been pretty amazing. From The Independent to Fox Business News to industry journals like BeverageWorld and IntoMobile, we’ve seen a lot of press and a lot of great feedback.

One thing that’s been lost in some of the coverage and user feedback is that the bar code / UPC thing, while very cool, is not a panacea. Right now, we’re seeing about 55% of bar code searches coming back with one or more results. That’s a bit of a misleading figure, because what’s really happening is that some users, who search for mostly newer and more affordable wines, are seeing about 70% coverage, while users with older and rarer wines are seeing more like 40% coverage.

There are a few things to know about the current state of wine UPC data:

  • Some wineries re-use bar codes for different vintages of the same wine.  For instance, Ledson re-uses the same bar code for all vintages of their Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  That’s not a big deal — scanning the bar code still gets you one click away from the vintage you’re drinking, and it is a lot easier than typing out a long winery name.
  • Some bar codes simply aren’t in the database yet.  We are working with our bar code partner, the very cool Occipital, to improve database coverage on a daily basis by adding new wine / UPC data.
  • You can help!  We’ve recently launched a new feature, available immediately to all users with bar code scanning support, which helps you help us to improve database coverage.   Now, when you scan a bar code and don’t get any results, if you manually type the name in… voila! You’ll be asked to associate the wine you just found with the UPC you had searched for, which will help you and other users to improve accuracy.

Wine UPC scanning isn’t the only thing we’re working on here at — we’re already coding away on version 2.2.1, which will address several UI issues and make the application even easier to use.  And we’ve got some other cool features up our collective sleeves as well.

But in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the bar code feature, and we hope you’ll help us by contributing any bar codes you run across which aren’t already in the database!

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