Databar codes have a number of potential benefits for retailers, customers and suppliers. The databar can hold much more information pertaining to expiry and sell-by dates, as well as batch numbers should a particular set of products need to be taken back in a recall scenario. They are also about half the size of an EAN barcode and can be used on very small or single items such as fresh fruits or vegetables sold singly. For this reason they are most useful in the fresh and chilled food sectors, and for small items such as pharmaceutical products.Although adoption began back in 2011, trials are still in place and we likely won’t see wide-scale adoption until 2014 at the soonest, when it is recommended for retailers to have the ability to scan the codes and incorporate their use in their point of sale (POS) systems. Retailers and suppliers who wish to implement the system sooner than 2014 will have to sign a bilateral trading partner agreement to show that both parties have implemented the relevant technology.
One of the most successful trials has been carried out in Ireland, and a report can be seen in this YouTube video:
In the video another benefit of the new symbology becomes apparent in the case of an item which has reached its sell-by-date and can be offered to the customer at a reduced rate if they wish to proceed with the transaction. They also offer an advantage when implementing coupon codes.The databar code carries what are known as GS1 Application Identifiers in which the additional information such as lot and serial numbers are recorded. These combined new abilities allow for more accurate quality control and traceability.
However, GS1 advises that if you are currently using a set of EAN or UPC barcodes that you simply continue to use these, and if it suits your product – especially if it is a food product
– consider the use of the databar barcodes for new items that don’t have barcodes as yet. Of course, do check with your retailers that they have the capacity to scan these codes. If they don’t then simply continue to use the normal retail barcode system.Here is an expert from their Australian division which gives further detail:
“Will EAN/UPC Barcodes be replaced by GS1 DataBar Barcodes?
Answer: No. It will be left to the brand owner (party responsible for specifying package design) to decide.
If the package has adequate space for a full EAN/UPC Symbol and all that is required in the barcode is the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), then EAN/UPC remains an appropriate solution and there is no need to change.
If the brand owner wants to recover package space for consumer communication then they can choose to change to a GS1 DataBar Barcode, when graphics are being revised for other reasons allowing the change to be made with little or no increase in cost.”
What will the new barcodes look like?
Here is an example of a normal EAN 13 barcode format:
This longer but condensed format will be able to include both the EAN code, price, weight, expiry date and extra information such as batch, lot and serial number, depending on the appropriate requirements of the retailer and supplier.So in summary, if you are currently using EAN or UPC barcode numbers, you can keep using them with complete confidence. If and when the newly proposed databar system comes into use – not for a very long time here in South Africa at least – your retailers will need to give you very advanced warning and have you agree to adopting the new codes as well.
If you have any further queries to feel free to comment below.