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Kroger Scanning DataBar on 38% of Coupons

CINCINNATI — In a survey of coupons processed at the POS last month, the Kroger Co. here found that 38% were scanned via the GS1 DataBar, the data-rich bar code being adopted this year as the sole bar code on coupons by CPG manufacturers.

“The DataBar is slowly creeping up [on coupons],” said Greg Menz, enterprise solutions architect, at a session on the DataBar last week at the GS1 Connect conference in Las Vegas. The scan percentage jumped 2% to 3% in April when Procter & Gamble switched to DataBar-only coupons in freestanding inserts, he noted.

After about two years of delays, coupons bearing only the DataBar, designed to improve coupon processing and deter fraud, were slated to enter the marketplace in substantial numbers this year, with retailers expected to be able to scan and process them at the checkout. Since 2008, coupons have included both the DataBar and the traditional UPC-A bar code — an interim format intended to ease the transition to DataBar-only coupons.

Kroger Testing DataBar on Meat, Milk

Menz acknowledged that when coupons with both bar codes are scanned, it's "pot luck" as to which one is processed. Kroger could not determine how many DataBar-only coupons vs. interim-format DataBars were scanned.

Overall, Kroger stores have reported “few issues” in scanning DataBar coupons at the checkout, though he noted that it’s more difficult to troubleshoot coupons with only the DataBar because most of the 78-digit content of the bar code is not human readable. "I’m looking forward to getting rid of the UPC bar code and the limitations associated with it," he said.

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