Sunrise 2027 – the Move to 2D Barcodes

First Published: April 2, 2023

The familiar UPC barcodes that are printed on just about every item we purchase have been in use for fifty years and have not changed over that time, well other than adding an additional digit at some point.

The UPC barcode contains a piece of data called the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) that identifies the stock-keeping item (SKU), as well as being the lookup key for the database that includes the product attributes, such as name, size, descriptions and much more.

The GTIN concept has served us well for years, but it has the limitation that while it can identify a SKU, it doesn’t contain any more information.

Every SKU item has the same GTIN number.

In addition, many brands are adding 2D barcodes, such as QR Codes, to their package for customer engagement, providing access to product info, recipes, safety information, and much more.

The GS1 migration to 2D barcodes for retail promises to allow a single barcode that can carry out everything that UPC/GTIN currently does while also allowing much more, such as traceability, lot control, expiration dates, and customer engagement.

It is intended that the new barcode types will be phased in over the next few years, with many products keeping the UPC codes, as well as adding the new 2D barcodes – these will be either GS1 Datamatrix or GS1 QR Codes.

It is also possible to encode the barcodes in the new GS1 Digital Link format – this is what allows the single barcode to also be used for customer engagement purposes.

  • The transition to 2D barcodes will be driven by a number of factors, including the need for increased efficiency in the supply chain, the ability to carry more information, and the growing popularity of mobile devices.
  • At the point of sale the consumer can be automatically warned if an item, is from a lot that is recalled, or outside of the expiration date.
  • 2D barcodes are already being used in a number of industries, including retail, healthcare, and manufacturing.
  • The transition to 2D barcodes will require a number of changes, including the upgrade of POS systems and packaging. Most modern POS scanners can read 2D barcodes, but not all systems have the firmware in place to decode GS1 formatted barcodes as yet.
  • GS1 US is providing resources and support to help businesses prepare for the transition.

Sunrise 2027 is a significant undertaking, but it is necessary to ensure the continued efficiency and growth of the retail industry. By transitioning to 2D barcodes, the industry can take advantage of new technologies and innovations that will improve the customer experience and drive business growth.

Here are some of the benefits of using 2D barcodes:

  • Increased efficiency: 2D barcodes can be scanned more quickly and accurately than 1D barcodes. This can lead to faster checkout times and reduced errors in the supply chain.
  • Improved accuracy: 2D barcodes can store more information than 1D barcodes. This can lead to improved accuracy in tracking products and identifying counterfeit goods.
  • Enhanced customer experience: 2D barcodes can be used to provide customers with additional information about products, such as nutritional facts or ingredient lists. This can help customers make informed choices about the products they purchase.
  • New opportunities for innovation: 2D barcodes can be used to enable new technologies and innovations, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This can lead to new ways of interacting with products and services.

Overall, GS1 Sunrise 2027 is a positive development that will have a number of benefits for the retail industry, brand owners, and consumers.

By transitioning to 2D barcodes, the industry will be able to improve efficiency, accuracy, and the overall customer experience. It’s an exciting time in the barcode world.

For more information on Sunrise 2027 check out the GS1 website.

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