Supply chain standards organization GS1 US has released a barcode capability test kit to help retailers assess their ability to move from linear Universal Product Codes (UPCs) to rich 2D barcodes into product packaging data by 2027.
GS1 US, based in Ewing, New Jersey, said the Barcode Capabilities Test Kit assesses a retailer’s ability to scan and process 2D barcodes at the point of sale (POS) as well as support storage and receiving functions in warehouses and distribution centers. The program is part of a migration plan to phase out UPCs and implement 2D barcodes, dubbed “Sunrise 2027 – A New Dimension in Barcodes,” that will guide brands through labeling transitions and help ensure reliable 2D barcode reading.
Although the UPC barcode has offered price-finding functionality for decades, the standard is not up to the task in the digital age, with a growing demand for more transparency, traceability and reliability. authentication of product information, according to GS1 US.
Two-dimensional (2D) barcodes can hold much more information while providing a single, standardized way to meet both supply chain needs and growing consumer demands. For example, according to GS1 US, information from 2D barcodes can improve inventory management, improve recall preparedness, promote sustainability and ethical sourcing, strengthen product authentication and foster brand trust.
“Global retailers, brands and solution providers are turning to using 2D barcodes to provide consumers with detailed product information and transparency,” said Carrie Wilke, senior vice president, standards and technology for GS1 US, in a press release. “However, there are many other benefits for the supply chain,” she explained, noting that “a single 2D barcode conveys limitless information in a machine-readable format.”
One-dimensional barcodes, such as EAN/UPC, can only contain a product identifier known as a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). On the other hand, 2D barcodes can handle additional data, such as expiration date, batch/batch number, serial number, etc. Some 2D barcodes, like the QR code using GS1 Digital Link, can carry more data while connecting consumers and other users to online resources, content and experiences, GS1 US noted. Additionally, 2D barcodes are likely to be smaller than their 1D counterparts and include features such as built-in error correction that boost their reliability.
The GS1 Digital Link standard will give brands the ability to enable barcodes on the web, connecting physical products to the web while providing consumers with instantly updated and brand-authorized content online via a single scan. smartphone, according to GS1 US.
“While the transition is a multi-step process, GS1 US will work with industry to align capabilities for success,” Wilke added.
GS1 US said it recently conducted a test kit pilot with three national retailers and their solution providers to determine industry readiness. The pilot found that point-of-sale systems needed to be transformed to process 2D barcodes, interpret new data, and maintain efficient checkout. Although the retailers in the test group had installed image scanners, the tests showed many readiness challenges to successfully scan, process and store data. indicating that the hardware and software infrastructure of all point-of-sale formats must evolve, the standards organization noted.
“While the transition to 2D barcodes is still in its infancy, we understand that the benefits of sustainability, traceability, supply chain visibility and meeting consumer needs drive great interest in the industry,” commented Marcia Mendez, senior program manager at Walmart. “Ultimately, suppliers will likely drive this development as they increasingly label their products with 2D barcodes. However, retailers will need to ensure that they can not only scan 2D barcodes, but also read and ingest the data, which we learned are two very different capabilities during the pilot.
GS1 US added that it will continue to work with retail and other industries to produce a fully interoperable overall solution, including efforts to create requirements, perform tests, analyze results and provide recommendations to optimize 2D barcode placement, read priority and double scan performance (UPC+2D) and single mark scenarios (2D). The tests will be carried out with the AIDC laboratory at the University of Memphis.
the 2D Workgroup in Retail will provide a standardized industry agreement on how 2D barcodes work in open global supply chains, alongside current 1D barcodes (EAN/UPC and GS1 DataBar). Any company using GS1 standards for product barcodes and any company that scans barcodes on products can join the 2D working group in retail, GS1 US said.
“2D barcodes on products will be an important new gateway to digital experiences,” said Kelly Schlafman, director of smart packaging at consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. “We live in the age of the informed consumer. The explosion of digital access to content is key to remaining competitive.