Will 2-D Barcodes Add A New Dimension To Shopping?
The QR code was a bit of a joke a decade or so ago. More recently, the novel coronavirus pandemic made QR codes a regular fixture in restaurants for viewing menus and a commonly used solution for other contact-free use cases. By 2027, the QR code, or technology very similar to it, is slated to replace what has been a familiar sight in retail for nearly 50 years—the UPC code.
GS1 US, the non-profit standards body in charge of barcodes, has announced an initiative called Sunrise 2027, which will replace the long-familiar UPC with a two-dimensional, QR-code-style alternative, according to Axios. Two-dimensional barcodes, with information encoded along both the X-axis and Y-axis rather than in a single line, can store and provide the customer or employee scanning a product with much more information than a traditional UPC. Because of that, the codes purport to offer several advantages over the legacy technology, including:
- Giving stores access to information about recalls, sell-by dates and other information at the shelf edge to manage inventory and discounting better;
- Giving customers access to enhanced product information such as ingredients, recipes and sustainability information;
- Allowing customers to access loyalty and rewards programs at the point of purchase when an item is scanned.
While QR codes may have proven themselves as a more convenient solution in some instances over the past few years, the widespread adoption of 2-D barcodes throughout all of retail could introduce some new types of risk.
QR code fraud has already emerged as the codes have become more common, according to an article by Chargeback Gurus. More common scams have replaced publicly displayed codes with stickers of new codes that point viewers to malicious links that install malware or steal funds directly by routing a payment to a different recipient. More inventive ones have arisen such as fake parking tickets with QR codes to scan in the parking lots of businesses that have implemented the codes for other use cases. Such scams could find more vulnerable marks as the codes or similar ones become more broadly used.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can retailers get the most out of 2-D barcodes? How should they approach security concerns around the technology?
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8 Comments on "Will 2-D Barcodes Add A New Dimension To Shopping?"
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Principal, Retail Technology Group
One example is already up and running live. It is the combined use of a 2-D barcode, smartphone scanning technology and Theatro (a wearable communications tool for hourly associates) that dramatically improves the customer assistance function in stores, thereby reducing the customer service response time. Myriad other applications of 2-D barcodes will similarly improve the speed of retrieval and amount of information to which a customer will have access. The industry just keeps getting more creative to the benefit of customers and retailers.
Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors
President, b2b Solutions, LLC
Ken, I agree. I see this as only an in-between step on the path to RFID.
B2B Content Strategist
2-D barcodes support a smarter and more efficient global supply chain. Product identification evolves by sharing richer data that retail stakeholders care about.
Retailers can encourage suppliers to clean their data, align it with GS1 standards and share it to ensure Sunrise 2027’s success.
While I agree, I am still dealing with smaller independent vendors that are just now moving towards UPC barcodes, I don’t see them moving to a QR barcode after that. Additionally, some scanning equipment in small/independent stores are not able to be scan these codes nor do I see them investing in new scanner equipment that can handle the new codes. Finally, work will be needed to revise the item/price maintenance to allow for this type of code to be recognized in any web based or legacy pricing systems.
Two-dimensional barcodes are coming forward this year in a big way. The new GS1-certified Universal 8112 barcode is hitting the market this year. 8112 was originally developed by the leading CPGs as a means to create one-time serialized coupons to combat the hundreds of millions of dollars in coupon fraud committed each year. The 8112 coupons can just be burned at the checkout, no more need for sending paper to Mexico. You can even clip up to 15 of them into one barcode, a big time saver for both the cashiers and shoppers.
But 8112 is itself a fintech tool that can be applied to a number of applications within the retail value chain both at the front of the store and as part of the supply chain. 8112 is a direct link to a product’s GTIN with the ability to meta-tag each serialized code, so the level of control is very robust and the data string associated with each can be extremely detailed as well as dynamic.
CFO, Weisner Steel
My initial response is “Aren’t QR’s codes for consumers but UPC codes are for retailers?” The implication being that security isn’t much of an issue.
But my second response is I’m not sure I’d want to trust my first response.: this is really a question best addressed by those with expertise in cybersecurity.
SVP Global Marketing, Fluent Commerce
From a customer engagement perspective I love it. One of the downsides to in-store shopping is not having access to additional details, lifestyle imagery, specifications, reviews, customer generated imagery, etc. If QR codes can provide a pathway to a more informative shopping experience, that would be great. As for security, QR codes would need to be an embedded experience, printed on original tags rather than ‘stickers’.