Have you noticed a change in coupon barcodes? Manufacturers have begun removing the 12 digit barcode (seen on the left hand side of the coupon) and are only using the longer barcode, called a DataBar barcode which you will find on the right hand side of your coupon.

And most stores have already started to update their POS system to be compatible with these new barcodes.

Why the switch?

The old 12 digit barcode looks more like a UPC and is intended to link directly to a product. We all know there are more than a few products in the store, so manufacturers have had a huge challenge to make a coupon for a specific product.

For instance, a shopper may be able to use a coupon that is intended for a 4-pack of yogurt for single yogurt cups with no “beepage”. Because the bar code cannot be linked directly to the 4-packk yogurts, but rather the company who makes the yogurt, the coupon scans fine at the register.

Manufacturers have a problem at this point because coupons are being used outside of their intention. Also, some shoppers and stores have the motto that they don’t read the wording on the coupon – if it scans, it must be legit. (I am in no way suggesting to you that this is acceptable coupon usage!)

The Solution

The DataBar barcode contains much more information than a UPC code does. For example, it accommodates longer manufacturer identification numbers, which check to see if you purchased the correct item. Also, since there is minimal human readable text, this means the end of barcode decoding!

Retailers that utilize DataBar will experience automatic expiration date checking, reduced cashier intervention and improved scan rates. This means your checkout experience should be much less painful and will be faster.

Of course, in order for these coupons to scan, the retailer would need to update their POS system to accommodate the new barcode. Most major retailers like Target and Walgreens already support DataBar barcodes, with other retailers soon to come.

Your Thoughts?

(thanks Time 2 Save Workshops & Frugal Finders!)

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January 24, 201209:51 pm

Do you know how we can tell if the coupon doubles? With the old 5 or 9 in the beginning it was clear, but now it is often a 0 and I cannot tell if it doubles or not. Thanks for your help.

Eric in NJ

July 6, 201105:53 pm

Always great ideas on paper, but in the real world (suburban NJ for me), change becomes futile lol. It's just going to be one more reason that an under-trained cashier will be hitting his/her blinking light. POS means something other than Point of Sale in my retail world here ;p


July 6, 201105:29 pm

This seems like a solution to alot of fraud people have been doing recently. I would love to be there when a few of those people who misuse coupons for their greedy gain try to use these new ones.So much for their product sub-lists.


July 6, 201105:22 pm

I think its a great idea and a way to keep couponing legit for those of us who use them correctly, however, my local Target has not yet updated their system and had no clue what was "wrong" with my coupon so wouldn't take it just a couple days ago. Hopefully everyone will get their systems updated sooner than later or I may not be able to use my printable coupons. :(