Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Next Week is 35th Anniversary of Retail Bar Code Scanning

RJ Note: Long gone are the days when you stood in the grocery line and watched the magical fingers of the check out clerk. Of course, you also watched carefully to ensure no errors were made as those fingers flew over the keys.

Now, the UPC is turning 35. I still remember the first time I saw it used in a store. The store was in Augusta, Georgia, on Washington Rd, but I can no longer recall the name of the store. However, I do recall I got my first hand held hair dryer at that store. Ahh, memories.

(BUSINESS WIRE)--“It’s the wave of the future, and I’m very upbeat on the system.” These were the words almost 35 years ago of Virginia Knauer, special assistant for consumer affairs to the President of the United States, when asked about the Universal Product Code (UPC) and the growing interest in retail bar code scanning.

Today, there is virtually no consumer product that cannot be scanned at the checkout in a retail store.

NCR Corporation first demonstrated its scanning system in 1974 to an overflow crowd that attended the Super Market Institute convention to view the then-revolutionary technology. Less than two months later, on June 26, 1974, history was made when a 10-pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum became the first product ever scanned in a retail store setting — with an NCR scanner in a checkout lane at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

NCR and Marsh quickly made headlines in newspapers and trade publications in the United States, Canada and other countries.

“Throughout its history, Marsh has been a technology leader in the retail industry,” said Lee Nicholson, vice president of MIS for Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. “When that package of Wrigley’s gum moved across the scan window, and a laser beam ‘read’ the bar code imprinted on the package, it was the beginning of a new era for retailing.”

Indeed, the new system helped revolutionize the world of retailing. Bar code scanning at the point of service soon brought faster checkout for shoppers and gave retailers more information and control over inventory and other areas of store operations. But the revolution didn’t stop there.

“That first transaction on an NCR bar code scanner launched a transformation that is still being felt throughout the world of retailing,” said Mike Webster, NCR vice president and general manager, Retail and Hospitality. “It’s a world where NCR has helped make shopping easier and faster for consumers with a stream of innovative solutions that we intend to drive well into the future.”

Today, retailers use the detailed transaction data collected by NCR RealPOS™ bar code scanners in ways only dreamed of 35 years ago. For example, consumer loyalty programs — like NCR Advanced Marketing Solution software — are linked to data that is generated when items are scanned at the point of sale.

In the years since 1974, NCR has introduced a steady stream of technology and software innovations that set the standard for scanning systems in retail stores and made the company today’s market leader in high performance scanners.

Moreover, NCR continues to simplify retailing processes and revolutionize the two things most people like least about shopping — waiting in line and paying. For example:

* NCR SelfServ™ Checkout, from the global market leader in self-checkout, can reduce checkout wait times up to 40 percent, greatly enhancing the shopping experience.
* NCR SelfServ kiosks, available with an integrated bar code scanner, support numerous retail self-service functions, including order placement, bill payment, promotional information, gift registries and more.

In addition, the global standards community, led by GS1™, is working with NCR to introduce the first new bar code symbology introduced worldwide to retail since the introduction of the European Article Number (EAN) format in 1977. The GS1 DataBar™ can be used for identifying small items, such as produce, and can carry more information than the current EAN/UPC bar code.

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