Need to develop a database schema that associates products and services into industry-standard categories. I know that both the schema and data are out there, yet I'm not finding it.

There are databases that list products (and contain millions of records), but I'm not finding a good database that lists corresponding categories. For example, individual cell phones might be in a "cell phone" category which, in turn might be in the "consumer electronics" category. What would be good sources of these types of categories?

  • @Leigh : if interoperability is a valid topic, then they'd be on topic.
    – Joe
    Mar 6, 2011 at 5:26
  • For those voting to close -- is it because the name of this site is 'Database Administrators' ? If so, see the discussion that ensued, and ask yourself if this specifically would be better here, on stack overflow, on serverfault, or if there's some better place for it.
    – Joe
    Mar 7, 2011 at 18:07
  • @Joe, so where do you see this fitting in on that meta page? I don't see it fitting any of those categories. Mar 8, 2011 at 3:23
  • @Leigh : you're right, there wasn't one that fit, so I added one
    – Joe
    Mar 8, 2011 at 13:14
  • 1
    @Joe: I understand the problem, I just don't know that it fits here. Specifically missing from this question is the part from your meta answer saying "...as they relate to storage within a database or extraction from one." The OP is not asking how to store or extract classification data with regard to a database, they are asking for sources of the classification data itself. Mar 8, 2011 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


Classification is a really tricky thing -- a company that specializes in cell phones might have many categories of cell phones, while ones that don't might stop at a broader category. Even within a given company, they might have multiple ways of looking at things, and so have multiple classification schemes / taxonomies / thesauri / ontologies / knowledge organization systems in use.

Just like any database, you have to know what sort of questions you're going to ask of your classification scheme, and from there, you can design what's going to fit it best.

A few registries / repositories / lists that I know about :

You might also check to see if whatever organizations there are for your industry have any standard classification scheme / thesauri / ontologies / whatever.

Update : I don't know if the Global Product Classification might help or not.

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    Another potential site (though I don't know if they have exactly what you're looking for) is: factual.com Mar 8, 2011 at 11:41

Th Unites States Government uses SIC (Standardized Industry Codes) SIC Codes



In the industry stantard, as you said, everything is repertoried somewhere, please find some example here :

I hope it can serve you as a start.

  • Identification numbering schemes aren't classification schemes. It might be used to identify the manufacturer or date of manufacturer, but that tends to be about it. From a VIN number, could you tell if it's a station wagon or a sedan? Mid-sized or an SUV? Can an ISBN tell you if it's a novel, reference, or a text book?
    – Joe
    Mar 6, 2011 at 5:21
  • @Joe ~ Actually a VIN would tell you everything about the car except the exact date of manufacture (and I don't think it tells color but that's an implementation detail). It would give you a pretty good idea of the date of manufacture if you knew how many of that model that plant produced in that calendar year. And if the plant used something like paint every sequential car one of these sequential paints then you could mod over colors to get the color. Otherwise, yes you would know all that. ISBN maybe not so much. You could guess from the publisher, sometimes.
    – jcolebrand
    Mar 9, 2011 at 15:25
  • @jcolebrand: I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the VIN tells you the plant that manufactured the vehicle, not the vehicle itself, so you'd need something else to deal with facilities that produce more than one vehicle. (it might not be so bad for plants that shutdown and refit so they're not producing two models at the same time, but smaller hand-assembled manufacturers might produce multiple types of vehicles in the same year. Ford plants produce multiple vehicle types and makes in the same facility
    – Joe
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:21
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    @Joe ~ that's not my experience: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – jcolebrand
    Mar 9, 2011 at 16:49
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    I'm pretty sure it's freeform for the vendor. But there are rules to it.
    – jcolebrand
    Mar 9, 2011 at 20:01

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