There is a new type of barcode being introduced, but when is this happening and what do retailers need to do to prepare for it?

GS1 DataBar on Granny Smith16xp

Global standards organisation GS1 has been working on the introduction of its DataBar (which is about half the size of a normal barcode) for several years. The DataBar will exist alongside present barcodes, rather than being a replacement for them.

The new barcode standard was due to become an open global standard in 2010 – meaning that all retailers would have needed equipment that was capable of scanning them by then. However, GS1 has revised this date to 2014 to give retailers more time to adopt appropriate scanning technology.

GS1 UK solutions manager Tim Brown says: “Scanners supplied from 2000 onwards generally can scan the DataBar.” So most major UK retailers will already have scanners at their tills that are compliant with the standard. However, he says retailers should still check, as their systems might require an upgrade or need the functionality turned on.

However, UK retailers are already investigating how they can best use the DataBar because it carries more information than a traditional barcode. Information on batch or serial numbers, expiry dates and price can be encoded in a DataBar.

Retailers that choose to adopt the new barcode earlier than 2014 can benefit if they introduce functionality to their EPoS systems to make use of this extra data.

Brown said that Wal-Mart is already using the DataBar on a lot of its fresh produce in the US, and Tesco has investigated its use on fresh produce.