The Global Language of Business

Retailer Starter Kit for GS1 DataBar

As of 2010, GS1 DataBar standards are available for bilateral agreement between trading partners for all trade items. The current focus is on Fresh Products scanned at 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 minimum retailers should be able to scan and process GTINs in a GS1 DataBar.

GS1 DataBar can carry the same data as a traditional EAN/UPC bar code in less space, or more data in the same space, providing numerous advantages and potential business applications for both retailers and manufacturers.

GS1 DataBar will not replace EAN/UPC barcodes

GS1 DataBar will not replace traditional EAN/UPC barcodes, but rather join EAN/UPC bar codes as an option for trade item scanning. While EAN/UPC symbols will remain useful for product identification for existing applications, GS1 DataBar enables expanded bar code implementation by enabling the identification of small items and carrying more information than the current EAN/UPC bar code.

GS1 DataBar will enable GTIN identification for hard-to-mark products like fresh fruits and vegetables, enhancing the ability to conduct category management and increasing speed at checkout. GS1 DataBar’s ability to carry GS1 Application Identifiers like serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates opens the door to identification solutions supporting product authentication and traceability, product quality and effectiveness, variable measure product identification, and couponing.

EAN/UPC bar codes will continue to be used, because the decision to adopt GS1 DataBar for existing applications will be made by brand owners. GS1 has developed a Manufacturers' GS1 DataBar Starter Kit, which addresses (among other topics) the key questions about where and when the GS1 DataBar could be used, even for existing applications.

Assess GS1 DataBar-readiness of your scanners

In the industry today, trade item scanners are either:

  • GS1 DataBar Ready
  • GS1 DataBar Ready, but the feature is turned off
  • Upgradeable to become GS1 DataBar Ready
  • Not Upgradeable for GS1 DataBar and must be replaced

In order to develop a good project plan, retailers should do an assessment of all scanning equipment to determine the status of each piece. Most recent scanners are GS1 DataBar-capable, but they are generally installed at the retailer's location with this functionality not yet "turned on". Retailers will need to contact equipment vendors to enable this functionality. Examples of equipment that will have to be tested for GS1 DataBar compliance include POS table-top and handheld scanners, handheld and wireless devices, price verifiers and kiosks.

To be GS1 DataBar-compliant, scanners must be able to recognise information from a GS1 DataBar accurately (including AIs such as expiration date, country of origin, etc) and present that information to applications that might store or process it. The applications themselves do not yet have to be able to accept this new data, or process the information. Right now, retailers need simply to assess a scanner's ability to read the GS1 DataBar symbology and present GS1 Application Identifier information accurately.

GS1 DataBar has been approved for all trade item scanning. This has a primary impact on items in the store; however some retailers scan trade items in distribution. Examples include pick and pack operations, cases for “cash and carry” retailers, or scanning items sold at point-of-sale but large enough to be scanned in a logistics environment. The reality today is that bar codes on trade items cross all scanning environments, so assessing readiness will likely include distribution environments for many retailers.

Read the GS1 Buyer’s Guide for GS1 DataBar Scanners

Assess the GS1 DataBar readiness of other material, such as printers, scales and produce bags

For GS1 DataBar readiness more than just scanners must be considered. For example, label printers and bar code generation software that creates barcodes, as well as printer scales, such as those found in meat, deli, seafood, bakery, ready-to-serve meal sections must also be reviewed.

Read the GS1 Buyers Guide for GS1 DataBar Printers and Scales

Further resources are available at