Guest Column | May 26, 2009

GS1 DataBar Sunrise Plans


Written by: Scott Gray, CPIM, AIDC Leader, GS1 Global

In the coming years a new bar code, GS1 DataBar, with new functionality will join EAN/UPC at retail point-of-sale (POS). This new bar code offers the automatic identification industry new challenges and opportunities. This article will help readers understand how GS1 is attempting to manage the adoption of the technology. Rolling out a new technology standard on a global scale is rarely accomplished, but GS1 DataBar must find its way into this club. The reason is simple. Without a common POS platform, GS1 and AIM (Association for Automatic Indentification and Mobility) members cannot develop common solutions to pressing problems such as product traceability, as well as shrink and category management for fresh foods.

In 2008, GS1 Global worked with GS1 organizations in over a dozen countries to survey top 100 retailers to determine the state of GS1 DataBar scanner readiness – to understand the percentage of scanners in stores capable of reading GS1 Databar at the POS. GS1 received responses from retailers representing over $1.5 trillion in turnover, and the results were mixed. Overall, scanner readiness hovered around 70%, but there was divergence by region with top retailers in North America close to 90%, Europe close to 60%, and less in other regions. Based on the divergence and factoring in the needs of smaller retailers, GS1 adopted a new approach to managing the roll-out of the technology.

Key factors include:
By 2010 GS1 DataBar standards will be available for bilateral agreement between trading partners for all trade items. The specific focus will be on Fresh Products scanned at retail POS.
• By the target date of 2014, GS1 DataBar standards, including attribute information (using AIs), can be used by all trading partners in an open environment. At a minimum, retailers should be able to scan a GS1 DataBar and process GTIN with their database.
• GS1 Member Organisations will assist adoption through education and support of users and report retailer readiness annually to the Global Office

Bottom Line
For the automatic identification industry to support the evolution of POS solutions and the use of the technology in fresh foods, I recommend the following actions:
1. In the months ahead, monitor GS1’s DataBar site to see what countries are adopting when (for example, GS1 US recently announced they will stay with 2010)
2. Assign a company representative responsibility for ensuring products and services support the evolution of GS1 standards in retail and healthcare
3. In the US, ensure all retail customers understand the GS1 US Board decision to roll-out GS1 DataBar without EAN/UPC in 2010 -
4. Make upgrades or replacement of existing equipment that cannot support GS1 DataBar a constant part of the selling process to anyone scanning GS1 identified trade items
5. Warn end-users against buying equipment or systems that do not support GS1 DataBar
6. Ensure hardware/software can design, print, scan, and verify all GS1 DataBar symbols
7. Ensure all trade item systems can process the data that comes from GS1 DataBar appropriate to the application using GS1 Application Identifiers
8. Contact AIM Global to see how your company can join other AIM Global companies to help AIM Global and GS1 establish a test lab to develop open supply chain standards
9. Follow the development of GS1 Fresh Foods standards in 2009
10. Support the AIM Global Technical Symbol Committee as needed to collaborate with GS1 on the deployment of the technology and resolution of implementation impediments

A more detailed communication on the new Sunrise plan is available from GS1 at:

Or for more information, please contact:
Greg Rowe, GS1 DataBar Program Leader at
Nora Kaci, Marketing Director, GS1 BarCodes