James Bond and retailers look to a new Q in their next chapters

Discussion
Photo: Getty Images/alvarez
Dec 16, 2022

This is the fourth in a series of articles from members of RetailWire’s BrainTrust panel speculating on coming retail trends and developments for 2023.

If you watched the most recent James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” you know how it ended and therefore understand some changes are on the horizon for upcoming features. Retail barcodes are on a similar glide path, with big changes ahead for 2027 that, interestingly, are focused on a familiar “Q” as well.

Bond lovers know how important Q is to the entire operation. This quartermaster character is the brains behind gadget innovation and supply chain coordination. Without it, 007 would never have survived against his formidable foes.

In a similar vein, retail is moving away from the traditional 1D barcodes to 2D, of which Q codes (a matrix 2D code) is the most popular. These codes will be the future brains behind the products we love to buy. On a raw information basis, these codes will be able to store up to 4,000 characters of information. Contrast that to today’s 1D barcodes, which can store only 85 characters, and you can quickly see the massive improvement. This will unlock huge amounts of data for consumers to engage with and fuel new innovation in supply chain analytics.

Additional areas for improvement include: enhanced product recall readiness, improved sustainability practices, better product authentication and greater brand trust. From a pure data analysis standpoint, imagine the depth of insights retailers and vendors can obtain with this new information.

The retail industry is collaborating with GS1 US to prepare for the barcode transition. The project has been code-named “Sunrise 2027”, with all point of sale (POS) ready to accept the new codes by then. The transition is a multi-step process, and the GS1 initiative provides a detailed roadmap so that a fully interoperable solution will work for all in the value chain.

A test kit has been developed for retailers so they can evaluate baseline functionality and identify gaps in scanning and processing the new Q codes. Additionally, an initial proof of concept was conducted and there were several areas where GS1 found issues, most notably, related to storing AI data, using image scanners and processing advanced syntaxes.

Is your organization getting ready for Sunrise 2027? If not, you may want to start your due diligence as we begin 2023. Perhaps your organization can beat the Bond movie franchise with naming rights to its next film and internally reference your project, “The Rise of Q.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What implications exist for retailers and vendors as they prepare for Q codes? How will this impact consumers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Ahead of 2027 we need to build new analytic tools, algorithms, new psychographic tools, etc. that let us more effectively process the data the new Q codes promise to generate."
"It appears that the industry will use both types of product ID, albeit for different purposes."
"QR codes represent an opportunity for retailers to deliver the supply chain and environmental transparency that more and more consumers desire."

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "James Bond and retailers look to a new Q in their next chapters"


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Bob Amster
BrainTrust

QR codes are already in use successfully in many businesses. The data capacity per square centimeter is the Q code’s biggest advantage. The information that can be stored on each unit of product, signs, posters, menus, etc. can be extremely helpful in conducting multi-dimensional analysis. Of course, the bigger challenge to retailers and manufacturers will be to conduct the analysis and acquire the proper tools to do so.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

I’m not sure Q codes are the way to go. Although they are 2-dimensional, to me they are still dumb codes. Unlike RFID tags that talk back essentially these tags do not. With RFID you can take inventory without having to scan each item, you can find product via Geiger Counter-type application and trigger loss prevention via their broadcast or reflective signal capabilities. Q to me is rather 1-dimensional. 

While we’re happy to guide retailers to implement when they’re ready, five years sounds like an eternity. In the meantime, RFID is ready and finally cost effective for lots of the use cases described for Q codes.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Ken, while I agree that RFID is much better for many use cases, unfortunately RFID is designed mostly for the retailer’s benefit. Consumers don’t have the ability to “read” an RFID tag (yet?), but they can get much information by scanning a QR code. It appears that the industry will use both types of product ID, albeit for different purposes.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Savvy retailers should already be working toward the changes that QR codes will require, because QR codes have implications far beyond more in-depth product descriptions. QR codes represent an opportunity for retailers to deliver the supply chain and environmental transparency that more and more consumers desire. But with that transparency comes responsibility, which is rife with assortment and supply chain implications.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

The widespread of adoption of Q codes carries with it the potential to revolutionize shopping from the perspective of consumers, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. But potential without execution is never realized. We don’t do a bang-up job with the information we have from standard bar codes. So ahead of 2027 we need to build new analytic tools, algorithms, new psychographic tools, etc. that let us more effectively process the data the new Q codes promise to generate.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Spot-on Ryan. Analytics plays a huge role due to the gravity of data now available in the codes. Retailers would be wise to increase their investments in data science skill sets to unlock the treasure of insights awaiting them.

Brad Halverson
Guest

The more primitive version of Q codes exist now, but shop any retailer today, and arguably they are in short supply and don’t much move the needle in any meaningful way for merchandising, marketing or operations.

Upside in revenue and loyalty is there for retailers who map out and implement a cohesive customer experience strategy with Q codes to help customers make better decisions, evaluate products, shop more efficiently and establish greater loyalty. Retail must commit resources, and make it part of marketing and merchandising leadership teams to fully develop it and help it become mainstream at store level.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Ahead of 2027 we need to build new analytic tools, algorithms, new psychographic tools, etc. that let us more effectively process the data the new Q codes promise to generate."
"It appears that the industry will use both types of product ID, albeit for different purposes."
"QR codes represent an opportunity for retailers to deliver the supply chain and environmental transparency that more and more consumers desire."

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