CHICAGO -- Information Resources Inc.'s InfoScan service has been providing manufacturers with point-of-sale data from a sampling of retailers since 1986. But the company is quickly moving toward a true "census" service that would collect data from all stores within a chain.
George Garrick, president of IRI-North America, said the move will eliminate a 6% margin of error. The move also will arm manufacturers with reliable information when they bargain for premium shelf space for their brands, he said.
"In sample-based reporting, you do your best to sample stores from a chain, but you always have sampling error," he said. "But if you are tracking information from all stores within a chain, there is no error."
Garrick said true data, rather than extrapolated data, puts manufacturers' representatives on firmer ground when negotiating with supermarkets.
"With census-based data, your numbers are always going to match the retailer's," he said. "And the retailer's numbers are always right because they have access to all the data from all their stores."
Garrick said relying on samples repeatedly puts reps in awkward positions.
"A vendor rep could tell a retailer his brand's sales are up 3% in that retailer's stores, only to have the retailer inform him that they are actually down 5%."
IRI expects the number of individual stores contributing data to InfoScan to rise to 11,000 by September. Currently, the figure stands at 5,000.