The Coupon Databar Dilemma

20 Feb, 2015

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Why don’t all coupons have databars? Why aren’t all companies using the coupon databar by now?

We are often asked why some coupons use different style barcodes from the databars.  The quick answer is that the powers that be do not have as much power as they wish.  There are thousands of consumer products companies that issue coupons.  In fact the QSeer library contains hundreds of manufacturer codes and new ones are being added all the time.   Each company still chooses its own barcode formats.  Think of how long it has taken everyone to broadcast their tv programs in HD.

The GS1 databar was supposed to be used exclusively by January 1, 2012, but sometimes it is hard to teach on old dog a new trick.  This databar is also called the stacked databar because most databars have one set of barcodes stacked on top of another set.  In theory, any coupon issued today should have only the databar, and not any of the older formats.  However, we are still seeing coupons issued today with the old UPC-A code as well as the EAN 13 style.  One of the deficiencies of the UPC-A code was that it limited the number of companies that could issue coupons.  The EAN 13 increased the number of companies that could issue coupons by a factor of 10.  It allowed a group of companies to issue coupons that previously could not.  It was a work around solution before the introduction of the databar, but now all manufacturers really should be using the GS1 databar.

There is nothing that forces the manufacturers to change over.  It doesn’t matter what the trade organizations say as they have no real authority.  There are so many small companies out there that issue coupons infrequently, and they have no motivation to switch to the databar.  We often receive questions about Wet ‘n Wild coupons because they are one of the brands that still uses the EAN 13 codes.

QSeer is built to exclusively focus on databars because we thought that all coupon issuers would have switched to the databar.  The coupon databar circled in pink in the photo below is the only kind of barcode that QSeer can scan. At some point perhaps all companies will switch, but in the meantime, we will have to suffer with those coupons with the EAN 13 or UPC-A that QSeer just can’t scan.

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