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Goodbye, Bar Code: A Major Change in Scanning Is Near

The E-Commerce manager of Belgium’s biggest home improvement company both alerted and encouraged his peers to plan now for the arrival of an advanced form of QR code that will change how we do business.


Currently, bar codes and current QR devices can point to only one place. The QR code powered by GS1 is a single symbol that can act simultaneously as a scannable device at the sales counter, a link to consumer-oriented web pages and videos, a link to sources of technical data sheets, and an inventory aid tracking “used best before” dates. What shows up when you scan it will vary based on what you need: A price, a how-to video, a product distributor, an installer, etc.


The goal is to have these new codes in operation and scannable by the end of 2027 (see details here), so “The countdown has started that will have implications in all your businesses,” Marc Henkens of the Belgian company Hubo said. Henkens spoke in Rome on June 13 during the Global DIY-Summit, an event which brought together more than 1,000 people running home centers in more than 50 countries.


Here’s a video Henkens showed explaining what the new system does:



There's no mandate that companies abandon their old scanners. But, as more manufacturers add QR codes with GS1 to their boxes, and more retailers become capable of reading the codes, the likelihood will grow that manufacturers will stop putting barcodes on packages so they can use the space for other purposes.


GS1 stands for "Global Standards." It's a registration site for companies to get unique digital identities for their products, thus making it easy for systems worldwide to know exactly who is connected to a particular bar or QR code. On bar codes, they are just a number, known commonly in the U.S. as a Universal Product Code, or UPC. With the QR code, this UPC can be attached to a product in such a way that the QR code will work at checkout but also do much more.


The Home Depot are Walmart are two of many big companies that already require suppliers to get company prefix numbers that adhere to GS1 global identification and barcoding standards.




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