GS1 Australia presents a quick and easy reference guide to understand the three most commonly used barcodes in Australia.
The GS1 barcode completes 40 years of existence in 2013, having first entered the world in 1973 following a decision to adopt a single standard for product identification, creating a global language of business.
GS1 barcodes identify items, locations, logistic units and more in the supply chain and are used across all industry sectors including FMCG, general merchandise and healthcare among others.
The three most commonly used barcodes in Australia are the EAN-13 barcode symbol used in the retail Point-of-Sale (POS) environment, and the ITF-14 and GS1-128 barcodes used in non-retail environments such as warehousing and general distribution.
First scanned at a POS point in June 1974, the EAN-13 is the most widely used barcode in the world, and encodes a GTIN-13. Designed for high volume retail scanning environments such as supermarkets, this barcode is also suitable for use in warehousing and distribution.
Widely used on corrugated cartons, the ITF-14 barcode encodes a GTIN-14 or zero filled GTIN-13. Designed to ensure correct scanning, this barcode can be seen in supermarket capping fixtures where excess stock is held in cartons. The ITF-14 is not suitable for retail POS environments.
Adaptable to a wide range of business needs within warehouse and general distribution environments, the GS1-128 barcode encodes GS1 Application Identifiers including data for batch numbers, serial numbers, production dates, ‘best before’ and ‘use-by’ dates and other important data. Very popular on ‘print and apply’ labels for cartons of short-term shelf-life food produce such as dairy, the GS1-128 cannot be used in a retail POS environment.