By Matt Herman
MBR—formed last year through a merger of IPDA and PBAA—is best known for its annual Magazines & Books at Retail conference, topical seminars, the MBR Daily Publishing & Retail News e-newsletter, research studies, and strategic marketing and sales support.
But another constellation of services crucial to the newsstand industry’s superstructure and daily business activities lies behind the scenes.
Every day for more than 30 years, MBR Technical Services has been transmitting, validating and supporting the data needed to keep the single-copy industry running smoothly.
These services are performed at minimal cost by partnering with independent contractors, and save the industry substantial sums every year by meeting the needs of channel partners with shared solutions.
In short, they benefit publishers, national distributors, wholesalers, retailers and other industry partners by enabling day-to-day operations as cost-effectively as possible.
Here’s a simplified summary of a few of the core services, and their functional and financial benefits:
Data Transmission: MBR-maintained EMS (eTransaction Movement System) programs move allotment data, invoices, affidavits, credit memos, statements, title attributes, UPC level information, cover prices, and sales metrics among the appropriate sales partners on a daily basis.
This service enables industrywide cost avoidance of between $500,000 and $1 million annually—money that can be used for other key activities, including marketing and promotions to drive single-copy sales.
Magazine Coding Maintenance: MBR developed, supports and operates the Publication Information Coding System (PICS), the industry’s magazine item catalog. PICS ensures that accurate data is used throughout the supply chain, including retailer scanning for the publications category.
Alternative methods of providing this service would cost the industry anywhere between about $500,000 and $750,000 more per year than our current, MBR-managed operational cost.
Cover Code Validation: In conjunction with using PICS data, MBR developed and now hosts and supports GVS (GTIN Validation System). This pre-printing validation service allows publishers to virtually guarantee that the title, issue, UPC and cover price coding for a given issue is consistent and functional across the channel.
Costly cover coding errors were much more common prior to GVS’s existence. When coding errors are not found and corrected prior to printing, issues bound for retail must be over-stickered—an expensive process that frequently also causes an issue to miss its on-sale date.
Publishers participating in the MBR-managed GVS program are avoiding all of these coding error/over-stickering costs—savings of between $400,000 and $1 million annually on an industrywide basis. (That’s not counting avoiding the negative sales impacts of missing on-sale dates due to coding errors.)
Inclusion in Retailers’ Inventory Management System: Nearly all major retailers worked with GS1, the worldwide industry standards organization, to create the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)—a universal process that lets retailers manage their item catalogs across their suppliers in an efficient, accurate and timely manner.
Magazines participating in GDSN see reduced in-store scanning errors and other data accuracy benefits. Most important, maximizing magazines’ participation in GDSN enhances the category’s standing with retailers by putting it on the same systems used by all of the major CPG companies to post their products and product attributes.
For individual companies, the cost of participating in GDSN would be prohibitive. However, cost-effective collective participation is possible because MBR has an arrangement with 1WorldSync, the service that hosts and operates GDSN, to provide all of the magazine industry’s retail-relevant data to them on behalf of our trading partners.
Bottom line: In MBR’s case, what’s behind the curtain is actually very significant and continues to help the magazine industry keep its costs down and maintain its economics.
Matt Herman heads up MBR’s Technical Services.