Why aren’t My Coupons Scanning? The New GS1 DataBar Coupon Barcode System

I have received several emails and comments recently about coupons not scanning and cashiers thinking the new single barcode coupons are not valid. I printed several coupons from yesterday and they only had the long barcode. These coupons are fine, totally valid and soon to be the much more common type of coupon barcodes you see.

Here is what is going on.

Coupons are switching over to the new new GS1 DataBar coupon format.These new long Databar Coupon Barcodes have been on coupons for several months now along with the old, shorter UPC Codes. You and your cashier are probably used to seeing the transitional bar codes that look like this:

Both barcodes have been on coupons to give stores time to transition over to the new longer Databar Coupon Barcode system. Eventually all coupons will only have the longer DataBar barcode.

Why the switch? The DataBar system can hold extremely large amounts of information, much more than the UPC codes. It is intended to help manufacturers make coupons more specific and coupon terms easier for stores to enforce. It will make it easier to add size, amount and even flavor requirements to the barcode of the coupon!

New DataBar System Changes:

  •  The existing structure only allows companies with a 6-digit prefix the ability to coupon. The new format can accommodate variable length prefixes.
  • Coupon value codes can now be in any amount up to $999.99, and they are not limited to a table of only 100 possibilities.
  • Precise offer descriptions and validation of offers involving specified quantity purchases can now be expressed.
  • Fraud reduction due to complexity of description and save values. Also, the entire barcode encoded data is not presented in human readable format. (so people can not “decode” coupons and use them for products they were not intended for)
  • Automatic expiration date checking for retailers.

What does this mean for you, the coupon user?

It should make using coupons even easier. You will know exactly what product and size the coupons is for and check out should be faster and easier.  There will be no need for cashiers to interrupt the coupon and decide if you have met the purchase requirement, the computer will do it for you!

It will also reduce coupon fraud, which is good for manufacturers, retailers and you. The new barcode ensures the coupon is used as intended and the make it much harder to produce fraudulent coupons.

If your store is having an issue with these coupons it is only because their computer system is not updated. That should be changed soon and in the meantime you can explain what is going on with the new barcodes. (Stores can manually enter the numbers above the barcode if it will not scan.) They may not let you use it but you will sound very official when you use terms like “the new GS1 DataBar Format”. :0)



  1. Shouldn’t the stores be updated by now?

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