Stock, Scan, Go: The Barcode at 70
Barcodes have been an integral part of the retail petroleum industry for decades. They’ve come a long way from their humble beginnings.
The barcode was originally developed in 1952, but it took a little time for it to become a viable commercial idea and cross-over to retail grocery.
The full impact of the barcode in our industry really began to be felt in the early 1970s, when a supermarket executive approached IBM asking for a way to speed up the checkout process and reduce human error when it came to pricing items. IBM developed the first barcode scanning system based off of that request, used for the first time in 1974 at a Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The first item recorded was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.
Fast forward to the 1980s, and barcodes became more widely adopted. They were used not only for pricing items but, as our readers well know, also for tracking inventory and managing stock.
Just like the convenience store industry, barcodes continue to evolve. No longer limited to the parallel zebra striping we’ve come to know over the decades, advanced barcodes are capable of holding much more data than ever before, including product descriptions, nutritional information, and even promotional offers. Examples of the new breed of barcodes are QR codes and 2D barcodes.
In fact, if you are an SSCS user, you may have checked out Appendix 1 of our Computerized Daily Book User’s Guide. It’s a useful tool that fills you in, using words and images on the barcodes most common to your store, such as U.P.C.-A’s and U.P.C.-E’s (short codes). More complex variable-priced barcodes and variable-weight barcodes are also covered, as is the purpose of a check digit, along with examples.
Barcodes are poised to develop and shape the way the industry records transactions in the future. With the rise of mobile payments and e-commerce, they’ve become more integrated into the shopping experience—customers can scan barcodes with their smartphones to make payments, access discounts, and learn more about products. The potential for storing information is only going to increase, and SSCS will be there to seamlessly integrate the data into the back office software we provide, helping customers manage for profit.
In our over 40 years of experience, we’ve confronted just about every retail bar code you can think of, and maybe a few more. This deep understanding of symbologies directly contributes to our rock-solid inventory management solution, which gets users through deliveries and store counts without interruption. As more barcode flavors gain acceptance in the market, we’ll stay on top of ensuring our customers can capitalize on them. If you’d like to learn a little more, give us a call at 1-800-972-7727.