Barcode now has its 50th Birthday!


Can you imagine a world where every purchase involves manually entering the department and the price of every item at the checkout? Such a scenario might appear to have been lifted from a 1980s video game, but it was a fact for retailers then. Then came the barcode.

Fifty years ago today, on June 26, 1974, the first commercial barcode scanning was done on a Wrigley's chewing gum pack. Those stripes may seem simple, but they revolutionised how we shop!

After the barcodes were released, we released the first magazine barcoded return system here. At first, because it was so new, we had to manually put on a barcode sticker as many magazines did not have barcodes.

I am in the middle, boy. I was proud that day as no-one had ever done anything like this before, and next to me was Joe, the programmer who did most of the analysis for the returns. We had a deal between us; I handled the newsagency stuff and the data handling, and he dealt with the magazines. It was in DOS. The result is that we saved our clients a lot of time and money.

How the Barcode Changed Retail (and Saved Money!)

Before barcodes, cashiers rang up sales by manually entering in price and department codes. This process was slow and error-prone, frustrating customers and costing retailers money. The barcode, however, changed everything. Here's how:

  • Faster Checkouts and Happy Customers: A simple scan eliminates the need for manual code entry, resulting in shorter queues, happier customers, and improved staff productivity.
  • Reduced Errors and Happy Staff: Barcodes are much more accurate than manual code entry, leading to fewer mistakes and happier staff (no more hunting for the correct code!).
  • Improved Inventory Management and Reduced Costs: Barcodes allow retailers to track stock levels more efficiently. This means there's less chance of running out of popular items, less money tied up in unnecessary stock, and better-informed ordering decisions—all contributing to significant cost savings.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: Beyond speed, barcodes enable features like price verification at checkout, reducing customer confusion.

The Barcode and Modern POS Systems: A Powerful Partnership

The barcode laid the foundation for modern POS systems like the ones we offer at POS Solutions. Here's how they work together to streamline your operations further:

  • Product Data at Your Fingertips: When you scan a barcode, the POS system instantly retrieves the product information, including its name, price, and the applicable GST Code.
  • Automatic Inventory Updates: Each scan automatically updates your inventory levels in real time, ensuring you always have accurate stock data and can make informed decisions about reordering.
  • Sales Tracking and Informed Decisions: POS systems use barcode data to track sales trends and identify popular items. This information helps you decide stock levels, promotions, and future ordering.
  • Seamless Integration for a Smooth Experience: Modern POS systems seamlessly integrate with barcode scanners, creating a smooth and efficient checkout experience for you and your customers.

Next Step of the Retail Industry

The introduction of a barcode, no doubt, has been a breakthrough, but the technology is still developing. We at POS Solutions are very optimistic about the future of retail efficiency, involving the following, which we are introducing:

common 1D & 2D barcode formats

  • 2D Barcodes: These data-rich barcodes can hold more information than traditional barcodes, potentially including product descriptions, origin details, and even expiry dates.
  • QR Codes: These square-shaped codes can be scanned using smartphones, opening up new possibilities for customer engagement and product information access.
  • RFID Tags: These tiny radio frequency chips offer even greater tracking capabilities and can be used for tasks like automated inventory management.

These advancements can inspire, but the barcode is essential in the retail ecosystem. Remarkably, this solution made the most significant difference in modern retail.

Ready to leverage the power of barcodes and modern POS systems for a more efficient and profitable future? Contact POS Solutions today to learn more about our innovative solutions!

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