GS1 QR code scanning

Source: GS1

The QR codes can provide the same functionality as barcodes at checkout while providing consumers and retailers with additional information

Tesco is to test on-pack QR codes that can be scanned at point of sale, in what is being billed as a “second barcode revolution”.

The QR codes offer the same functionality as barcodes at checkout while also being scannable by consumers with smartphones to access detailed product information such as allergen advice. They have been developed by GS1, which maintains the industry standard for barcodes.

They can also help businesses tackle waste by better tracking products through supply chains, and provide retailers with more detail at the point of sale, such as any relevant recall information, according to GS1.

Tesco is collaborating on preparations for point of sale scanning as part of tests of the new tech now being carried out in 48 countries, representing 88% of the world’s GDP. It follows the completion of a pilot programme involving over 50 brands, with PepsiCo, Walmart, P&G, L’Oréal and Amazon among those already involved.

GS1 – which timed its announcement to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first scanning of a barcode at a till, on 26 June 1974 – is aiming for a comprehensive industry-wide rollout of the next generation of codes by 2027.

The companies to have so far joined forces with the project have a combined market value of over $1.5 trillion and operate in over 160 countries, reaching billions of consumers, paving the way for global adoption, according to GS1.

GS1’s QR codes have also been used in pilots of digital deposit return schemes in the UK.

“We are pleased to be collaborating with GS1 to explore the potential benefits for customers and for our business from QR codes,” said Tesco supply chain & development director Matt Rhind.

“We know our customers want the opportunity to access detailed product information instantly via their smartphone and we are also always looking for solutions for reducing waste and tracking products more effectively throughout our supply chain. QR codes powered by GS1 will help us meet these challenges and we are already taking steps to prepare for the transition.”

GS1 UK CEO Anne Godfrey said: “In today’s hyper-connected world, barcodes need to start working harder. We look forward to building on the five decades of cross-industry collaboration to make this vision for the future a reality.

“There is still much to be done but, with the backing of our members, partners and our global community, QR codes powered by GS1 can deliver new, more powerful ways of working that promise to be just as transformational – if not more so – than that first barcode scan 50 years ago.”