2009.24 | Mobile Checkout with GS1 Databar

GS1 Databar has been looking for common acceptance for years, and a recent article in the NYT discussed how ‘The Bar Code is Taking a Leap Forward and GS1 Databar may yet reach a Plateau of Productivity with its usage for coupons on mobile.

Hopefully mobile can be one impetus to drive the usage of GS1 Databar, and it will see the kind of acceptance that has driven other symbologies like 2D barcodes or to a much lesser extent, Microsoft Tag. There are a number of significant potential benefits to be reaped by consumer facing organizations that can leverage these codes, including: increased throughput, reduced shrink, improved food safety, and the potential for increased sales from consumers’ demand for data.

The greater challenge is passing this data from the real world to the pocket of the consumer – a mobile platform today. While Metro AG has some great ideas (thanks, Michael) on how to do this using their mobile assistant and on customers’ own mobile devices, the challenges of a successful implementation are very real and very difficult.

Ideally, enlightened consumers could scan their own purchases as they shop, but there are some incompatabilities between consumer behaviour and the technology that can drive issues of shrink – intentional or not. The inherent slowness of using a camera for barcodes versus a laser or LED scanner, the complex multiple step shopping processes (scan with phone, place on atm reader, pay with phone), and the essential lack of any security limit this excellent effort as a stepping stone towards a more complete future solution.

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