Has the UPC outlived its usefulness?
The vast majority of retailers and consumer brand companies will be ready to move on from the universal product code (UPC) in the near future, according to a research study from GS1 US.
Eighty-two percent of retailers and 92 percent of brands support transitioning from UPC to 2D barcodes, digital watermarks or radio frequency identification (RFID) in the next one to five years. The research found that, even though nearly 69 percent of retailers are currently using laser scanners that cannot read a 2D barcode, 84 percent are currently evaluating or planning to move to more advanced optical point-of-sale (POS) scanning tech that can.
Sixty percent of tier 1 retailers (annual sales $1 billion+) are planning on upgrading their POS infrastructure in the next 18 to 24 months. Retailers cite omnichannel initiatives and mobile POS requirements as the key factors driving these actions.
“The U.P.C. has served the industry well for more than 45 years. However, consumer and retailer demands for expanded product information require us to evolve our capabilities to support the emerging needs of modern commerce,” John Phillips, senior vice president, customer supply chain and go-to-market, PepsiCo, said in a statement. “Leveraging data-rich carriers will unlock a host of significant benefits for the consumer products industry and ultimately our multichannel customers, including enabling better consumer engagement opportunities.”
“Today’s U.P.C. does not carry the additional information required to support future supply chain and customer needs,” said Dave Bornmann, senior vice president grocery and fresh, Publix Super Markets. “Before adopting a new data carrier, further considerations will be necessary to evaluate the return on investment from upgrading scanning equipment, enhancing supporting systems and the additional labor needed to collect and verify data.”
“This is complex, important work that the industry is undertaking. The magnitude of not only systems improvements but also change management requirements cannot be overstated,” said Mark Baum, chief collaboration officer, The Food Industry Association (FMI). “However, given the fundamental shifts in consumer behaviors and attitudes, we must work together to align the industry’s capabilities with what is needed to succeed in a rapidly changing marketplace.”
- Retail Industry Supports Transition from U.P.C. to Data-Rich Barcode, According to New GS1 US Study – GS1 US/PRNewswire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How likely is UPC to be largely replaced by an alternative at retail within the next five years? What is the most likely replacement and what advances will it bring?