The GS1 DataBar is a stacked omnidirectional barcode created by the global standards organization GS1. The GS1 DataBar was designed to fit on smaller items, such as loose produce, that are not large enough to use a UPC barcode. It is found on a PLU sticker and supplemented by the 4- or 5-digit PLU code as the human readable portion. The PLU code will be used as a back up as it can be key entered at point-of-sale in the event the barcode does not scan. It is important to reiterate that the GS1 DataBar is used for the item (loose produce), not packaged produce (e.g. bags or clamshells) or the case. If an individual item carries a UPC barcode (e.g., watermelon), it does NOT need to have a separate GS1 DataBar created for it.
The GS1 DataBar is encoded with a 14-digit Global Trade Item Number or GTIN. It enables the capture of brand owner identification for loose produce instead of just the category of the item via the PLU code. Although it will identify the brand owner, it does not contain information to assist with full traceability efforts (i.e., batch/lot number or pack date).
Benefits of GS1 DataBar
The implementation of GS1 DataBar has many advantages to both retailers and suppliers.
- Improved category management
- Increased checkout speed
- Improved inventory accuracy
- Enhanced product quality management efforts
- More products automatically and accurately identified at point-of-sale
- Shrink control via front end accuracy
- Facilitated self-checkout
Format of GTIN used for DataBar
The GS1 Stacked Omnidirectional DataBar has a 14-digit data structure for the product identification number.
The 14-digit GTIN for the GS1 DataBar is a number which has four parts:
Indicator Digit = used to define the packaging hierarchy of a product. This number must be a “0” for loose or bulk items.
- GS1 Company Prefix = a number assigned by GS1 that uniquely identifies a company from any other company in the world. Contact GS1 to obtain your Company Prefix or for further information.
- The generic company prefix, '033383', obtained from PMA cannot be used in the creation of the GS1 DataBar GTIN as it does not link the item to a specific company.
- Item Reference Number = assigned by the owner of the GS1 Company Prefix based on the length of the prefix to identify the item.
- Check Digit = the 14th digit which is calculated by an algorithm and serves as a “checks and balances” to ensure the preceding digits were entered correctly. To calculate the check digit, use the Check Digit Calculator.
For the United States and Canada, the 14-digit GTIN is built using a GTIN-12.
- Begin with an Indicator Digit which is always '0' for the GS1 DataBar
- Follow the Indicator Digit with the GS1 Company Prefix which is the UPC Company Prefix with a preceding zero. The zero in front of the UPC Company Prefix converts it to a GS1 Company Prefix.
- Assign the Item Reference Number
- Add the Check Digit
For the Rest of the World, the 14-digit GTIN is built using the GTIN-13.
- Begin with the Indicator Digit, which is always '0' for the GS1 DataBar
- Follow with the GTIN-13 for the item
As companies will not always have the same length GS1 Company Prefix, they will have a different number of digits remaining for the item reference number assignment.
|# of GTINs
||Length of Company Prefix
||Length of Item Reference Number
As such, the advice to companies is not to utilize the PLU code as their item reference number (e.g. a company having an 8-digit or 9-digit Company Prefix will not have enough digits to use a 4-digit PLU as an item reference number). The owner of the Company Prefix can assign whatever number they wish to the item reference number. It is suggested not to build any intelligence into the Item Reference Numbers; instead start with the number '0' and continue to assign the numbers in sequence for all items in your product catalog.
Furthermore, it is recommended to assign GTINs for your items using the same granularity as the PLU code (Commodity, Variety, Size Group). As most retailers' systems are used to this level of granularity, it will make the transition much easier if each companies' GTINs equate to this level of granularity.
There are label manufacturers available to assist with the creation of the GS1 DataBar on your PLU stickers.
Transitioning from PLU Codes to GS1 DataBar: DataBar Online
With the implementation of GS1 DataBar increasing, a simple data synchronization tool, DataBar Online was created. The tool enables sellers of produce to communicate their item level GTINs and corresponding PLU codes to their buyers. In turn, buyers can then download this information into their Point-of-Sale systems to scan the GS1 DataBar on loose/bulk items currently labeled with PLU stickers as opposed to having to physically enter the PLU code to identify the product. Retailers can search for those suppliers who supply a specific commodity and they have the option of utilizing an automatic web service to automatically download this information. Utilizing this automatic web service ensures you will always have the most current data. Transferring the data is much more efficient since the upload of the data occurs only once. The database acts as a single central repository for all data to be exchanged; thus one single point of contact for all trading partners. It is important to note that DataBar Online is used only for item-level identification (e.g. PLU coded produce); it is NOT to be used for packaged or case-level identification. UPC Link is a separate tool to assist with transitioning from generic to company specific UPCs. There is a one-time access fee of $300 for PMA members and $1,100 for non-members for this product.
Making the Transition
For each PLU
coded product you sell, you will need to create a corresponding 14-digit GTIN
1. Obtain a GS1 Company Prefix
a. Contact GS1
b. GS1 Company Prefixes will range from 7 to 11 digits in length depending on your company's capacity
2. Create your 14-digit company specific GTIN
a. Begin the GTIN with the Indicator Digit of '0' for item level identification
b. Follow with your GS1 Company Prefix
c. Assign your Item Reference Number, which will be 1 to 5 digits in length
d. Add the Check Digit
Benefits of DataBar Online
- A single source to exchange data in one consistent file format
- Processes will greatly improve with increased speed and accuracy at checkouts
- An automatic download feature to ensure the most accurate and complete list of data is being exchanged
- Search function to identify suppliers who supply a specific commodity
- Reduction of 'no scans' or 'not on file'
- Can remedy emergency buy situations
- Avoid cashiers losing faith in scanning and going right to keying in the PLU code
Accessing DataBar Online
To purchase and access DataBar Online, you must have your own GS1 Company Prefix and PMA log in credentials. If you do not have PMA log in credentials, please select the ‘Create Account’ at the top right-hand corner of the page and follow the instructions. Once your account is created, you will be redirected to PMA’s home page.
You will also need your PMA company and individual identification numbers. If you do not have your PMA identification numbers, please contact PMA's Member Services via email
of phone at 1-302-738-7100. If you do not know your GS1 Company Prefix, please contact GS1
. The product has a one-time access fee of $300 for PMA members and $1,100 for non-PMA members.
The order must be placed through the online registration process
prior to gaining access to DataBar Online. Suppliers (members and non-members) can order DataBar Online by following the instructions on the registration form to complete the purchase.
You will be asked for your GS1 Company Prefix(es). You do not need to register your individual GTINs
Access to the product is not granted until the registration process
is completed and the product purchase is confirmed. Please allow 2 to 3 days for the registration to be processed. You will receive a confirmation email notifying you of your access. At that time, you will be able to upload your data. The individual registrant will be the only one who will have access to DataBar Online.
Now is the best time to familiarize yourself with the product and learn how to create your file to upload, update and download your information. There is a tutorial
available to help guide you through these basic steps providing instruction on gaining access to the tool, creating the data file(s), uploading, revising and downloading data.
How to Build Your Data File
As a supplier or brand owner of the items, you will need to build a text file using a text editor, such as Notepad, with your 4- or 5-digit PLU
codes and corresponding 14-digit GTINs
. To create this text file, it is best to create a two-column Excel comma-delimited (.csv) file with the first column containing your PLU
codes and the second column containing the 14-digit GTINs
, both separated by columns. This is the data which will be uploaded into DataBar Online. It is recommended that you refer to the DataBar Online tutorial
for further details.
If you own more than one GS1 company prefix, you will need to create and upload a separate data file for each distinct set of GTINs
. Additionally, there may be multiple GTINs
linked to a single PLU
Please note that Retailer Assigned Codes cannot be uploaded into DataBar Online. Since they are assigned to different types of produce at different retailers, they can inadvertently corrupt a retailer's point-of-sale system. These codes need to be communicated to your retailers separately.
It is important to save the original file for future reference because any future uploads will overwrite the data currently stored.
Utilizing the Data
Once the data has been uploaded to DataBar Online, suppliers have the option of adding, revising or deleting records through the Update Online feature. The download option can also be used to verify the data uploaded. Retailers can either download the data by directly accessing the tool or choose the automatic download option to program regularly scheduled data transfers.