Smarter barcodes are coming to a store near you
Automatic identification and data capture technology is about to experience a dramatic expansion, and retailers will want to know how best to take advantage of the change.
By 2027, the traditional Universal Product Codes (UPCs) that we all know and love are set to transition to a two-dimensional (2D) barcode or QR code that can store much more data on packaging. The move, made in large part due to a consumer demand for additional information about the products they buy, is being shepherded by GS1 US, which recently launched a test kit to help retailers make the change.
The kit, part of GS1’s Sunrise 2027 program, evaluates a company’s ability to capture QR codes at all transaction points (point of sale, receiving, dispatch, etc.). The program is designed to help retailers and brands ensure there are minimal challenges in the transition to 2D barcode scanning.
The benefits expected from the move to 2D barcode scanning include simplification of retail messaging, improved inventory management, greater sustainability in ethical sourcing practices and better product authentication and greater brand trust. The new codes also give retailers the ability to analyze the data for many use cases, including discounting, confirming expiration dates, checking lot codes so recalled products don’t leave the store and connecting to loyalty programs.
“CPG suppliers also have recognized that consumers are looking to them for more in-depth information on their products. Digital access to dynamic, current information is imperative for the consumer — 2D barcodes are the gateway to delivering the next level of information, as the traditional UPC simply can’t deliver what the current day consumer is looking for,” said Carrie Wilkie, senior vice president, standards & technology at GS1 US.
GS1 US recently ran a pilot with three national retailers and their solution providers to assess readiness. Based on its results, POS systems need to be transformed to process 2D barcodes, interpret new data and maintain efficient checkout. Although retailers in the test had installed image scanners, testing showed various readiness issues in successfully scanning, processing and storing data. Retailers will need to upgrade their hardware and software infrastructure across all POS formats in order to scan, read and ingest the data.
“While the transition to 2D barcodes is still in its infancy, we understand that benefits around sustainability, traceability, supply chain visibility and meeting the needs of consumers are creating a great deal of interest across industry,” said Marcia Mendez, senior program manager at Walmart.
- The Future is Now: The Next Dimension in Barcodes and What it Means for Supply Chain – GS1 US
- With 2d, Procter & Gamble envisions providing unique experiences – GS1 NL
- Retail Industry to Transition from U.P.C to Two-Dimensional Barcodes on Product Packaging by 2027 – GS1 US
- A New Dimension in Barcodes – GS1 US
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What impact will the transition to 2D scanning have on retailers and brands? How will the technology best serve to differentiate the retail offering to shoppers?