The Next Supermarket Revolution
The slim margins in food retailing have long inspired grocers to cut costs. In the 1970s, seeking a way to speed up checkout and limit mistakes, grocers led a coalition of manufacturers and retailers to develop a system of standardized product identification—the Universal Product Codes, or bar codes. The system enabled stores to track inventory and record customer buying habits. It also made possible the discount warehouse, a highly efficient model for distributing food and other goods to consumers at reduced prices.