GS1 DataBar provides fresh ideas

As of 2011, GS1 DataBar will reach all cash registers in the world. This new linear barcode holds a number of advantages over the EAN/UPC barcodes that are currently used. 

The GS1 DataBar (formerly known as Reduced Space Symbols) is a new point-of-sale barcode joining the EAN/UPC family of barcodes to allow more product marketing. According to GS1, there are two primary benefits to the adoption of the GS1 DataBar. For starters, GS1 DataBar offers the ability to provide automatic identification data that is not available today. Retailers will be able to gain greater visibility and accuracy about what they are selling. Secondly, the GS1 DataBar is much smaller in size, providing more space for consumer communication, or providing the option to reduce packaging in an effort to reduce the cost of goods. 

In some markets, the number capacity of the current ‘small symbol’ options (EAN-8 and UPC-E) is an issue. “A number of variations on the GS1 DataBar, for instance the ones that only carry the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) are smaller than the current EAN-13 barcode and can also be read omnidirectional,” notes Leen Danhieux, manager GS1 Barcodes & GS1 EPCglobal. “This makes the DataBar especially interesting for small products that are difficult to code today. And on the other hand, it’s also a solution for single items of vegetables and fruit. Currently, these only use the PLU code.” One of the markets that will greatly profit from the new DataBar is the health and beauty industry. This market is heavily regulated and manufacturers have to put a certain amount of text on the boxes, no matter how small they are. Smaller barcodes leave more space for consumer communication. 

Expanded versions of the GS1 DataBar can carry extra information like lot numbers, best before dates, net weight and extended price (for instance with information on coupons). These extra possibilities make the new barcode a great option for manufacturers and retailers of fresh products, for instance in the food sector.

GS1 is quite aware that not all retailers will start using the new DataBar at the same time, but a number of them have committed to pushing the use of the new GS1 DataBar early in 2011. This will certainly make their competitors follow suit. The ultimate aim is to allow for all trading partners to use the GS1 DataBar in an open environment. By then, all retailers should at least be able to scan and process GTINs in a GS1 DataBar.