Will You Need to Change Every Barcode?

First Published: May 6, 2024

If you currently have UPC barcodes printed on your products, you are probably aware that there is a plan in place that will allow them to be upgraded with new 2D barcodes by 2027 – this is the GS1 Sunrise 2027 program.

Will this mean Sunrise 2027 will force you to recreate every single barcode on your packaging?

While the new barcodes will bring a lot of advantages to brand owners, retailers and consumers, the good news is that there is no mandatory replacement of the UPC. If a brand chooses to continue with their current barcodes, that’s fine.

Retail Barcode Options

Continue to Use Existing Barcodes

The new 2D barcodes are intended to provide additional functionality, such as expiration dates, lot numbers and customer interaction. Your current barcoding will be fine if you don’t believe your business would benefit from this.

Your product’s GTIN (the data embedded in the UPC code) is still the main identification element used in supply chain and retail environments and will continue to be valid.

Add a 2D Barcode Along With the UPC

If your package has room, you can retain your current UPC barcode and print a 2D barcode close to it.

This can allow you to benefit from using a GS1 Datamatrix or GS1 Digital Link barcode while still being able to use your existing pre-printed packaging materials.

This is a good option for the period leading to 2027 during which not all retail companies will be ready to handle the data encoded in the 2D barcodes.

Go Directly to 2D Barcodes

This option would not be recommended for brands that sell via multiple retail outlets. Still, if you work for a retail organization and your systems are equipped to handle it, this would be perfect for your private label packages.

Many manufacturers of point-of-sale scanners are already providing equipment that is compatible with GS1 2D barcodes and existing scanners can often be upgraded via firmware updates.

Which is Best?

It’s currently an exciting time for barcoding and brands have some interesting decisions to make.

Which approach is best for you depends on your overall business aims and what you’d like to achieve.

GS1 has a lot of resources to help you with their Sunrise 2027 pages and the group of independent GS1 Solution partners is already helping brands and retailers with creating, printing and scanning the new barcodes as well as helping manage all the data.

We’ll be creating more content at Packaging News Net on GS1 barcoding, so be sure to check back for updates.

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