Technology and public understanding of it constantly change. Not surprisingly, some of GS1’s past guidance on barcode scanning is no longer needed. In 2020 we have withdrawn two old codes of practice for the retail sector, one permanently and one until further notice.
First, the Retail Scanning Code of Practice – this was introduced back in 1982 when the growing up-take of barcodes and removal of physical price tags on consumer products raised concerns about possible over-charging. In fact, shelf labels and readable displays on tills negated the risk but GS1’s forerunner, the New Zealand Product Number Association, along with retailer and consumer representatives, drew up a four-page code on how to manage shelf labelling and customer complaints. Those practices have long since become standard practice in retailing.
Second, the RFID Code – this was written 15 years ago to address early public concerns about consumer privacy as radio frequency reading of electronic tags emerged as a likely replacement technology for barcoding. This RFID code was produced by GS1 with relevant industry bodies as well as the former Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the University of Auckland. As it happens, RFID has not yet been adopted across retailing on consumer units and does not look imminent.
After consultation with the other bodies involved, GS1 New Zealand has formally declared that the Retail Scanning Code of Practice is obsolete and that GS1 no longer holds itself responsible for managing complaints. (Only 32 were ever received). And the RFID Code has been shelved until such time as RFID becomes widely used in retailing.