Supermarkets back barcode quality

New Zealand's two biggest supermarket chains, Foodstuffs (Auckland) and Progressive Enterprises, are to apply for full accreditation for barcode quality under the EANacert programme.

New Zealand’s two biggest supermarket chains, Foodstuffs (Auckland) and Progressive Enterprises, are to apply for full accreditation for barcode quality under the EANacert programme.

The program is run jointly by the Australian and New Zealand chapters of international barcode standards organisation EAN.

It includes on-site assessment of the organisation’s readiness and needs; a training programme for staff; assistance and advice during implementation; and a detailed manual to support in-house documentation of policies and procedures. Licensing agreements are also a included, and an electronic template that enables accredited manufacturers to produce verification reports for their products to the standard mandated by EAN in Australia and New Zealand.

The ideal of EANacert is that barcodes should scan “first time, every time”. This impacts not only on the customer’s shopping experience, meaning fewer holdups and erroneous charges, but also the fundamentals of the business such as accurate inventory management.

“Quality barcodes are now an essential business tool,” says Keith Sanders, manager of logistics for Foodstuffs (Auckland). By becoming accredited, we’ll put in place objective standards for our barcodes and make improvements where necessary.”

Accreditation is also a way of providing Foodstuffs’ external suppliers with a benchmark to follow. “Substandard bar codes impose large costs on Foodstuffs and on our suppliers,” says Sanders. The cost savings accreditation also might bring are potentially “significant”, given the millions of scanned products that the company’s stores deal with each week.

Mark Brosnan, Progressive’s general manager of merchandise, echoes the theme.

Progressive recently estimated that about 6% of bar codes failed to scan properly at checkout. It may take only 10 seconds for a staff member to enter the product code manually, Brosnan says, but with millions of transactions involved, the wasted staff time, and wasted customer time, is measured in thousands of hours per year.

“In the future, we will also be implementing bar code scanning on cartons at our distribution centres in order to take full advantage of the EAN system,” he says. This will drive our inventory systems, and the picking and packing for distribution to our stores.”

Nine New Zealand companies have gained accreditation. A further 63 companies are in the process of achieving accreditation.

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