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Retail relies heavily on barcode technology to track goods throughout the supply chain lifecycle and to ensure swift and efficient customer transactions. Manufacturers provide each product/variation of a product (size, colour etc) with a unique barcode identifier, which the retailer uses for ordering, warehousing, pricing, stocking and checkout.

Whilst 1D barcodes simply provide a unique number for the retailer’s own use, 2D barcodes contain significantly more information and are designed to be used by the consumer.  They give the manufacturer and retailer the opportunity to provide information in formats such as images, sound, and website links and are a marketing as well as a logistics tool.  

The use of RFID technology is growing in retail – unlike barcodes, RFID tags do not need ‘line of sight’ to be read, and multiple tags (100s) can be read simultaneously (whereas barcodes need to be scanned sequentially). Cost has traditionally been the inhibitor to using RFID on high volume, low value items, but as cost reduces, usage is expanding.