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The New York Times reports on a new development in the bar code business – “sets of neat black bars stacked in two rows” that are called GS1 DataBars, which “can store more data than traditional bar codes, promising new ways for stores to monitor inventory and for customers to save money.”

Examples cited by the article:

• “One use of the symbols will be in sophisticated coupon offers that combine deals on multiple products … A single coupon, for example, could offer discounts on three separate items like eggs, bacon and biscuits, all in one transaction.”

• “Another use of the new symbols is already helping to streamline operations for a common speed bump in the checkout process: loose produce. During the past three years, for example, the Loblaw Companies, the big Canadian supermarket chain, has gradually switched to scannable, miniaturized DataBar labels pasted onto some fruits and vegetables. Instead of entering a 4- or 5-digit number to look up a price, cashiers scan the DataBars on the produce.”

• “The labels help stores keep better records … If retailers are receiving Red Delicious apples from three separate suppliers at prices of $8 to $10 a carton, and all the apples are dumped into a single bin, retailers can still tell how many they sold of each lot, as each DataBar is tied to a purchase record.”

KC's View:
Anything that creates greater transparency and traceability seems like a good thing to me.