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GS1 says planning for new, smaller barcodes should start now

GSI UK, the independent global supply chain standards and solutions organisation, has “strongly recommended” that FMCG suppliers and retailers start planning for the January 1, 2010 adoption of the new, smaller GS1 DataBar barcode.

This date marks when the barcodes – previously known as Reduced Space Symbology (or RSS) will start appearing at retail checkouts. Endorsed by GS1 “based on a business case developed by a global taskforce including retailers, consumer groups manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies”, the new codes are designed to enable application to smaller items and to carry more information than existing EAN/UPC barcodes. GS1 DataBar will also enable Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) identification for “hard-to-mark” products like cosmetics and loose fruit and vegetables, and can carry GS1 Application Identifiers including serial numbers, batch/lot numbers and expiry dates.

“We are already having to find more room for additional details on packaging, such as nutritional labelling, allergens, detailed product information and, in the future, the likelihood of having to record carbon labelling,” says Chris Tyas, Nestlé supply chain director and vice-chairman, GS1 UK. “Increasing the available space on products by using smaller symbols such as the GS1 DataBar will help achieve this.”

GS1 stresses the new codes will “not necessarily” replace EAN/UCC barcodes: “It will be for the party specifying the package design to decide”. The organisation says: “Most modern barcode scanning equipment can read the GS1 DataBar, but retailers will need to check their systems for compatibility. Older scanner models, however, may need replacing to read the codes. To help pave the way and ensure their systems are ready for the new barcode, retailers can receive guidance, implementation and testing support, and training from GS1 UK.”

GS1 UK also recommends that companies: contact equipment suppliers to ensure scanners and POS technology are GS1 DataBar-compliant, test scanning equipment – GS1 DataBar sample cards are available; and check EPOS software and systems “to ensure they can present the data from GS1DataBar to the relevant computer application”.

More information:

The new GS1 DataBar barcodes will begin appearing in early 2010 and are designed to enable application of data to smaller, “hard-to-mark” items such as loose fruit and vegetables