New bar code will speed retail service

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Retailers are poised to benefit from faster customer service and better stock control with the introduction of a new bar code in 2014.

The new GS1 DataBar bar code will be used throughout the retail sector.

GS1 UK, a not-for-profit supply chain standards and solutions organisation, is advising all stores to prepare for its introduction and has launched a web resource to raise awareness.

GS1 UK recommends stores check their scanning equipment to ensure it can scan GS1 DataBar.

The web site provides guidance on all aspects of the new bar code, in order to help retailers ensure they are ready for the 2014 launch.

Features include a five-step checklist for store managers to ensure their scanning systems are GS1 DataBar compatible plus answers to frequently-asked questions about the new bar code.

GS1 DataBar is set to join the current GS1 bar codes that have been used on most retail products over the past 30 years and will enable an even greater range of items to be identified at the checkout.

According to GSI UK, key advantages of GS1 DataBar include its ability to be used on small or irregularly-shaped items such as fresh, loose produce and cosmetics. More information can also be incorporated in the bar code in preparation for future legislation for additional product data such as expiry dates and batch numbers.

The smaller size of GS1 DataBar, virtually half the size of the current EAN-13 bar code, allows it to be fixed to items that are often not bar coded.

The product codes for these items often have to be entered manually at the point-of-sale, which takes time and is subject to human error. GS1 DataBar can speed up these transactions at the checkout, enabling stores to offer a better level of customer service.

Suppliers will also benefit from increased packaging space for branding and additional information for consumers, such as nutritional values, details of allergens, more in-depth product data and, in the future, details of an item’s environmental impact.

The industry is predicting a 400 % increase in the amount of data retailers will need to hold about products. GS1 DataBar’s capability to store more data will also help stores comply with increased consumer and regulatory demands.

Tim Brown, solution manager, GS1 UK, said: “We have launched the new GS1 DataBar web site to help retailers, both small and large, to be ready for the 2014 adoption date. It is essential that stores start planning and checking their equipment and systems now to be able to offer customers a faster, more convenient shopping experience, whilst benefiting from improved efficiency.”

James Lowman, chief executive of ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores), said: “We are working closely with GS1 UK to ensure that our members are fully informed and prepared for the introduction of GS1 DataBar in their stores in 2014. It is vital that convenience stores are kept up-to-date with the latest developments in the retail sector and we welcome the launch of GS1 UK’s dedicated web site.”