CINCINNATI-BASED KROGER, among the food retailers that have begun scanning the GS1 DataBar (stacked omnidirectional) on produce stickers, said it is seeing some benefits from the technology, although problems persist.
The company is able to scan the produce DataBar throughout its divisions, said Greg Menz, IT-senior director, in a presentation at the U Connect 2010 conference earlier this month.
Scanning the DataBar on loose produce eliminates the need to key in the price look-up (PLU) number, which is also available on the sticker. “Cashiers told us they perceive [DataBar scanning] to be faster,” said Menz. About 80% of fruit and 20% of vegetables come with DataBars on the stickers.
Kroger began updating its PSC and NCR scanning systems to handle the produce DataBar about three years ago; no POS software upgrade was required. Kroger's primary objective in scanning produce is to reduce the shrink that occurs when organic produce is not identified correctly, said Menz.
However, only 4% of the produce DataBars are actually being scanned because for many items, Kroger does not have a global trade item number (GTIN) in its POS file that corresponds to the DataBar. That's because many produce suppliers are lax about providing Kroger with the GTIN information, said Menz.
Since September of last year, the Produce Marketing Association has maintained a master file of produce GTINs and PLUs to which suppliers are encouraged to send their data. Kroger downloads that PMA file weekly but unfiled GTINs continue to be a problem, said Menz. Another strategy he cited is making sure that when produce is marked down, both the PLU and GTIN are changed in the price database.
Meanwhile, Menz reported that by scanning DataBars on produce, Kroger has captured item sales more accurately and reduced organic shrink, though he didn't provide specifics. Kroger has also seen a slight productivity increase at checkout.