The familiar barcodes of the past five decades are being officially phased out—and the new version comes with new features.
- The new system will allow barcode scanners to access and display a far greater amount of information than traditional UPC codes—including inventory management, recalls, product authentication, factory data, and environmental information.
- GS1 is a U.S.-based non-profit organization that oversees barcodes and how they are used.
- As part of its Sunrise 2027 effort, UPC barcodes are about to begin being swapped for new “2D barcodes” and plan to swap over within four years fully.
- GS1 says that Puma is the first corporation to begin using these new barcode systems.
- The organization is beginning to send out test kits to companies in an effort to help them prepare for the transition.
Why It’s Important
The UPC barcode first began use in 1974 and has been a useful and practical tool for nearly 50 years. However, times are changing, and the needs of companies and customers are changing. Companies are more reliant than ever on more complex technology. Customers are increasingly concerned with environmental factors, ethical sourcing, recall awareness, and other valuable data not stored on traditional barcodes.
GS1 notes that 2D barcodes will help meet these demands and challenges, allowing for greater product information transparency, traceability, and authentication that will help both businesses and consumers. The new barcode is based on QR code technology. It can be scanned the same way UPC codes are scanned and will provide greater details and information.
“[2D barcodes will] take you on an experience that the brand wants you to have. The mechanics of being able to encode on both dimensions of that square QR code give you the ability to put more robust information than you can today in a UPC that can only hold a small amount of numbers,” GS1 SVP Carrie Wilkie tells Axios.