Barcode gives insight into internal supply chain

Despite many products ending up on supermarket shelves in packaging, part of the fruit and vegetables is presented loose. Convenient, because this way, consumers can buy just what they need. Inconvenient, because how will the supermarket have a good insight into the volume sold? An Italian supermarket chain was faced with this problem. In order to get more insight into the flow of products, the company switched to GS1 bar codes.

Iper, part of Finiper Group, is a large Italian retailer with 27 branches, all of them hypermarkets, with about 9,000 employees and good for a turnover of 2.6 billion euro in 2015. “The bar code used by the chain for the fresh products packaged in the shops did not contain much information,” says Emanuela Casaline during the EU Fresh Info Forum. From GS1, she was involved with the project of implementing the longer GS1 bar code in the supermarket. The older code did not contain any information about the volume sold. To calculate how much had been sold of a product, the company relied on calculations in which the price of the volume was calculated backwards. This calculation was inaccurate because of rounding off, among other factors. 

“The GS1 bar code consists of 13 numbers, and contains information on product, weight, price and any best-before date,” Casaline explains. In July 2015, a pilot with the new code was held in a first shop. Two months later, the supermarket concluded that the trial was successful, and it was decided to alter all the branches for the new bar code one by one. Quite a job, for printers have to be able to print out the new labels, scanners need to be able to read the new bar codes and the registers need to be able to recognise the new data. The project was completed in the summer of 2016. As a result, the supermarket is not just able to better monitor the internal supply chain, consumer safety has also been increased. By also recording the best-before date, the register will inform you if the product cannot be sold because it is past its date.

The next step for Iper is to automatically discount products reaching their best-before date. The supermarket is also working on a coupling between lot number and consumer, so that there is direct insight into who bought the products in the event of a recall.

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