Berlin: the growing demand for more information about the products we purchased could mean the end of a simple barcode-decorated black and white stripe blocks for most items for sale, scanned 5 billion times a day.
In a store in Ohio in 1974, the bar code was first used on Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum packaging, completely changing the retail industry to allow cashiers to call the product faster and more accurately, logistics has also been streamlined.
But now consumers are asking for more transparency in their products and shopkeepers need more information to help with inventory, product recalls and crack down on fakes.
The basic barcode is not up to the job.
This could mean a costly upheaval for retailers and brands to change their packaging and invest in new systems and scanners.
But it should also benefit as more data helps them manage the flow of goods better.
Kees Jacobs, a Capgemini consultant, said: "The bar code is doing a good job, but it's time to take over . " Who is working with the world's top retailers and food manufacturers to try to reach new global standards on labeling and product data.
"The current barcode is not enough to carry the finer information needed," Jacobs said . ".
The most common barcode allows the laser scanner to read 8 to 14 digits.
For example, bar code 4-003994-
111000 a case was identified as a 375g package of Kellogg Corn Flakes.
However, this number does not directly capture any other information that shoppers may be interested in, such as ingredients, allergens or origin-nor does it provide retailers with useful details such as batch numbers or sales --by date.
This data is usually printed on packaging, but consumers are increasingly looking to read it online, or use smartphone apps like apps that measure calories.
Retailers want to be able to scan the data to complete the quick positioning of faulty items for recall or about the following tasksto-
Expired products for mark downs.
Sustainable security? GS1, the non-
Profit organizations that distribute unique numbers in barcodes have developed a dual
Layered barcode it calls it "data Bar" and it can carry some additional details such as due date, quantity, lot or lot number.
This led to the launch of the smartphone app PRO Trace by German retailer Metro, for example, salmon slices sold at a store in Berlin in August 25 were captured at the Bremnes waterfront fish farm near the Norwegian coast in August 17, processed in Germany in August 21.
The app also shows a map highlighting the catch fishing area and a detailed description of Salmon.
Metro says the app can help customers get cash. and-
Carry shops such as professional chefs from hotels and restaurants as they can now decorate the menu with information about the exact source of expensive food such as Wagga beef.
"In Germany, we are the only one who can do this for fresh fish.
Our customers challenge us to deliver sustainable and safe products, "said Lena vom Stein, project manager, Metro corporate responsibility.
Metro has set up a tracking program to help it comply with EU regulations aimed at curbing over-fishing and began providing data to its customers in 2012.
It now extends to meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables will follow.
Other retailers are also open, often supplementing the bar code with a pixelated square called a quick response (QR)code.
It can store more data points that can be scanned to web pages via a smartphone camera, but most store scanners still cannot read.
Dutch retailer Albert Heijn recently launched the "check source" QR tag locally
Radish and blueberry.
Scan the sticker on the phone and it will play a movie showing the journey back to the packaging factory from the shelf and back to the farmer's field.
These tools may increase the requirement for transparency.
The GS1 survey found that consumers were most interested in nutritional component information, allergen details, organic certification, environmental impact and ethical standards.
Coordinating the data so that such a wealth of data can be accessed through code that can be scanned is only part of the problem.
The bigger challenge is to collect, store and standardize information first.
Fiona Whitley, sustainability manager for UK retailers Marks and Spencer, said keeping a close eye on all the company's suppliers could be a daunting task.
"It turns out that your ability to give customers more confidence is increasingly challenging," she said, adding that M & S relies on certification programs such as fair trade to help review small farmers.
David Linich, a supply chain expert at Deloitte Consulting, suggested retailers find ways to work together to monitor the thousands of producers they buy: "If you go alone, it can be very troublesome, the cost is too high.
Forum on consumer goods (CGF)
A global network of about 400 retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries is coordinating efforts to coordinate product data and labeling.
Most companies admit that transparency is needed after 2013 scandals in Europe that have been sold as beef. But it turns out that it's still difficult to convince them to share data that many people think is commercially sensitive.
Capgemini's Jacobs, who is working on the CGF project, wants a pilot program to standardize digital information, like rival retailers in Belgium, including delhaze, Carrefour and Colruyt, may be the predecessor of the new global data standard.
GS1 already has data from 30,000 companies that involve about 18 million products shared behind the scenes by its industry members to ensure smooth logistics.
It tries to convince its members to give consumers more of this information while keeping some of it confidential, such as detailed prices and inventory levels.
Malcolm Bowden, president of GS1 Global Solutions, predicts that calorie and allergen applications are surging due to widely accepted standards, and within a year agreements on sharing nutritional data may
"The will is there.
It must happen.
"Just like any major change, big companies have to have time to think about what it means," he said . "
GS1 is also working on creating identification numbers for individual farms and trying to coordinate standards for sustainability data, such as the water efficiency of detergents and washing powder currently being piloted.
However, providing such a wealth of data will ring the death knell for the barcode.
Only QR codes can carry so much information without taking up too much packaging space.
In the long run, more products can carry wireless labels, such as RFID tags that are being widely promoted in the fashion industry.
These tiny labels can be embedded into objects, unlike barcodes or QR codes, they do not need to be within the sight range of the reader and are too expensive for everyday goods, but their prices have fallen fast.
Bowden predicts that as retailers and logistics providers gradually upgrade their scanning systems, different systems may have to coexist over the next decade or so.
"I believe we will have one day where all consumers will have access to information about almost all products," he said . ". —