What are they?
DataBar™ symbols are nifty “little” alternatives to traditional EAN/UPC bar codes that are compact and include the same amount of information as standard bar codes. These symbols used to go by the name Reduced Space Symbols or RSS. They are commonly found on small coupons or products that are harder to mark with the average size bar code due to limited label space or product surface area. Items like jewelry, produce, meats, healthcare items, and cosmetics are among the products that typically use this smaller barcoding method. However, retailers should not be fooled by the size of the point-of-sale symbols.
What are the benefits?
The GS1 DataBar™, while minimal in size, is dense in data. According to the GS1 DataBar information site, these symbols can actually “carry more information…than the current EAN/UPC bar code.” They can also identify a product by its Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and “GS1 Application Identifiers such as serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates” in a significantly smaller amount of space. In addition, the compact size of these symbols make them ideal for including on manufacturers’ coupons where space for copy and graphics is somewhat limited.
Some of the other benefits of using DataBar™ symbols include:
How do they work?
GS1 DataBar™ symbols contain different reader information in various segments of the bar code itself. Depending on the type of GS1 DataBar™, the information is contained in different formats but always contains a GTIN for global scanning and tracking consistency.
Each format serves a purpose, whether the manufacturer is catering to the scanning capabilities of a certain retailer’s point-of-sale hardware, or if additional information is necessary for proper product identification.
When will they become standard?
As far as point of sale, an original “sunrise” for DataBar™ implementation was set for January 1, 2010. Since this deadline has been extended by one year and that UPC bar codes will remain the standard, there are concerns that some retailers will not take timely consideration to properly implement the point-of-sale software and hardware necessary for accurately scanning DataBar™ symbols. The globally recommended date from GS1 for retailers to have the DataBar™ capabilities and implementation in place is January 1, 2014. Companies like Honeywell and IDAutomation offer GS1 DataBar™ scanners and hardware, but with the anticipated global adoption of this bar code alternative, more companies are sure to come out of the woodwork before the year’s end.
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