Post Date: October 23, 2023

Matrix Codes to Replace Linear Barcodes

With beep after beep, linear barcodes (1D barcodes) make in-store checkouts quick and easy as they offer price lookup functionality by a simple scan of each article. Nevertheless, their days are numbered according to a global initiative powered by non-profit barcode provider GS1.  By the end of 2027, matrix codes (2D codes) are to be the new global standard in the industry. The revolutionary changeover has the potential to benefit manufacturers, consumers and retailers.

2D codes meet increasing information requirements

Traditional EAN/UPC barcodes can only contain a very limited amount of data. They encode the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) which identifies an unique item. Moving forward with matrix codes, only one code on the product packaging will be needed to provide a wealth of information: expiration dates, batch numbers, web content and much more.

Matrix codes to replace linear barcodes

2D barcodes have a higher data storage capacity as they can represent a large number of characters in a very small space. They consist of bars, dots and gaps arranged in a matrix. Unlike linear barcodes, they encode characters not only in horizontal direction (one-dimensional), but also in vertical direction (two-dimensional). Widely known types of 2D codes are the data matrix code and the QR code.  They can be scanned with conventional smartphone cameras.

Advanced traceability, buyer loyalty and efficiency

Due to their compact size, the powerful 2D codes not only allow more space for branding content on packaging. They are particularly designed to increase transparency along the entire supply chain and open up new business features. The wide range of possible applications directly at the point-of-sale (POS) includes:

  • Inventory management: Product freshness can be centrally monitored based on batch or expiration dates, reducing the need for physical inspections and preventing waste through automatic price adjustments.
  • Consumer protection: Stored data on all stages of production, processing and distribution can be traced back at all times along the entire value chain to the origin of the product, in order to manage recalls in a reliable and quick way.
  • Customer relationships: Consumers gain access to enhanced brand experiences and detailed product information (e.g., sustainability info, special offers, recipes) through linked web content.
  • Anti-Counterfeiting: Serial numbers can be used to verify the authenticity of a product in order to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods.
  • Returns management: To process returns more effectively, items can be serialized and linked to transaction data, warranty data, and other information.
  • Supply chain network: Variable retail units (e.g. pre-packaged, fresh food with fluctuating weight or individual piece count) can include the individual measurement information in the 2D code in addition to the price and GTIN to ensure traceability along the entire supply chain.

Coding with GS1 DataMatrix and GS1 Digital Link

GS1 barcodes are the universal standard in global trade and official provider of EAN/UPC and GTIN. The organization offers two solutions for the 2D migration: The GS1 DataMatrix presents all technical advantages of two-dimensional code. It requires only little space, can be scanned in any position (360°) and has a very high error tolerance. With the help of data identifiers, various information can be encoded. The flexible GS1 Digital Link connects products to web-applications and provides a wide range of information via single link.

Let’s start with the implementation!

AT Information Products offers a broad line of Markoprint® and AUTOPRINT® industrial inkjet printers and inks to identify and code products, unit packages, and outer shipping cartons.  We can help customers transition to matrix codes so they stay in compliance with regulations and retailer requirements.  Call us at (201) 529-0202 or send a message to [email protected].