Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code
71 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2017 Last revised: 25 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 10, 2020
We study the adoption, diffusion, and impacts of the Universal Product Code (UPC) between 1975 and 1992, during the initial years of the barcode system. We find evidence of network effects in the diffusion process. Matched-sample difference-in-difference estimates show that firm size and trademark registrations increase following UPC adoption by manufacturers. Industry-level import penetration also increases with domestic UPC adoption. Our findings suggest that barcodes, scanning, and related technologies helped stimulate variety-enhancing product innovation and encourage the growth of international retail supply chains.
Keywords: Universal Product Code, Barcode, Supply Chain, Network Effects, Trademarks
JEL Classification: O33, L11, L60, L81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation