Aging UPC Barcode Might Be Spared The January Noose On Coupons

In another sign that doesn't bode well for the long-planned January adoption of the next-generation barcode, the GS1 DataBar, a major coupon industry organization has reversed itself and now says traditional barcodes should remain on coupons way past New Year's Eve.

Since September 2007, the Joint Industry Coupon Committee (JICC), the trade organizations pushing for the widespread adoption of the GS1 DataBar on coupons, has called for Jan. 1 to be the day coupons no longer contain the old UPC-A barcodes.

Currently, many coupons bear both types of codes as an interim measure since all retailers have not upgraded their barcode scanning and processing equipment to handle the more info-packed GS1 DataBar.

But in a June 3 "assessment summary" regarding the plan to stop including the UPC-A on coupons, the JICC said "preliminary data" about retailer readiness for the change show the January target is unrealistic.

The committee noted there are "gaps" in its knowledge about retailer preparedness largely because "several large national-scale retailers have not responded" to requests for information. Those requests came in the form of an online survey asking retailers to describe their ability to scan and process the GS1 DataBar by the Jan. 1 voluntary "sunrise" date.

JICC said it intends to "immediately secure means to obtain additional respondents to the survey to ensure a more accurate assessment" of the level of GS1 DataBar readiness. It did not specify how it plans to coax the retailers into playing along.