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New bar code heralds major changes for all retail systems

Incorrect reading of barcodes costs business's between £500 million and 1 billion pounds a year* and now a fundamental change is taking place in the world of bar codes, for the first time since bar coding was introduced to retail packaging over 35 years ago.

A new type of bar code, the “GS1 DataBar”, has been approved for marking items in the retail supply chain and it will be launched on January 1st 2010.
However, the latest research suggests that, (with only a year to go) many retail/logistics and supply chain companies are still unaware and hence, totally unprepared for this monumental change.

The change itself is long overdue, existing EAN/UPC bar codes consume a great deal of packaging space and (for their size) hold only a limited amount of basic data.
Consequently, very small retail items have been unable to carry a bar code and no retail goods have been able to carry other information, such as best before dates, weight and supplier ID, batch info etc.
Consequently, as bar codes are essential to checkout and stock taking operations, it was necessary to find a new code type, which was more compact and could contain a lot more additional data.

GS1, the global retail standards-setting organisation (formerly known as EAN International and Uniform Code Council) has over 100 member organisations spread around the world, and over a million supplier/retailer members. It is GS1 that have introduced this new barcode and starting in 2010, trading partners across the globe will be printing and using the new GS1 DataBar codes.
Retailers must be ready to scan these codes at the point-of-sale, on the shelf, in the stockroom, and elsewhere within their logistics systems. All bar code scanners and mobile data capture terminals will have to be upgraded or replaced with new equipment capable of scanning and decoding the GS1 DataBar.

Europe's largest manufacturer of hand held terminals and barcode scanning systems (Datalogic) is already well ahead of the game. Datalogic Mobile provides a range of mobile computers designed for retail, warehouse and in field/vehicle applications.
All of the current Datalogic Mobile, Windows based, products meet these new requirements.

Colin Pike, Datalogic Mobile UK Country Manager, comments, “this is a fundamental change with very far-reaching implications for the retail trade. Whilst most retailers have made, or are in the process of, making changes to their store systems, there are still many people out there who are not prepared for this change. Many older handheld terminals are physically unable to be upgraded for a variety of reasons. GS1 DataBar codes require ten times more processing power to decode in comparison to EAN/UPC and the scanners in most handheld terminals simply can't cope.”

Datalogic Mobile will be running a series of educational seminars and forums throughout 2009. These events are aimed at retailers and will explain the best practices in becoming ready for GS1 DataBar codes together with other issues confronting retailers using mobile systems. The next form takes place at Datalogic Mobile's HQ in Redbourn on Friday, 27 February. A panel of independent experts will be on hand. These have worked with and for leading retail organisations to define, market and implement wireless solutions including Tesco, Arcadia, B&Q, Debenhams, J.Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer. Anyone interested in attending should e-mail Chris Wood at chris.wood@datalogic.com

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