GS1 DataBar Coupons: An Overview


In 2002, the JICC and the GS1 US began working on a joint program to update the coupon system. The original goal was to address the significant expansion of the coupon industry and changes in business needs since the current system was implemented in 1985. The couponing re-engineering initiative became more essential after the GS1 began issuing variable-length Company Prefixes - thus making the existing standards unable to accommodate the current dataset.

Together with a group of manufacturers, retailers, processors and third-party suppliers, including Pinpoint Data, the JICC used a set of business requirements compiled from an industry survey to develop a standard that exploited the benefits of using the GS1 DataBar - one comprehensive solution to the whole coupon industry. This specification was debated, revised, disputed, and presented many times, and finally ratified for implementation. Actively involved in the design and testing of this specification, Pinpoint Data has frequently presented and published information on the topic.

GS1 DataBar Elements

The required elements of the GS1 DataBar are very similar to those of the UPC-A/GS1-128 version. However, the data fields in the previous symbology contained many limitations that were costly to all trading partners. With these shortcomings in mind, some of the required elements were modified, and other optional fields were added. Some of the changes include:

  • Save Value (from $0.01 to $999.99)
  • Purchase Requirement (exact amount)
  • 2nd and 3rd Purchase Requirement, Company Prefix, and Family Code
  • "Store Coupon" and "Do Not Double" Flags
  • Full Start and Expiration Date Coding

These changes allow for more promotional flexibility and make more accurate POS validation possible.

Transition to GS1 DataBar Coupons

To facilitate the varied implementation requirements and timelines, a two-phased migration plan was used:

Interim Standard Final Standard

Manufacturers and other coupon publishers may remove the UPC-A code from coupons at their discretion between January 1st and June 30th of 2011, but should confer with their trading partners about their readiness to scan the GS1 DataBar before doing so.


The GS1 DataBar presents a new and complex coding, minimal human-readable components, and an increased importance on family code data. All industry partners will need to review current procedures and policies and update them accordingly to ensure compliance with the new standard. Communication, training, and support during and beyond the implementation period will be critical for a successful transition.

Pinpoint Data Can Help

Pinpoint Data’s suite of products was designed specifically for the coupon industry to address long-standing data communication and quality control issues, helping manufacturers institute "best practices" and reduce fines and related costs. The introduction of GS1 DataBar magnifies these issues and the value that Pinpoint Data’s products present.

In addition, Pinpoint Data provides live support to all of its clients, with account representatives readily available via phone or email. Regular webinars are also held to discuss product usage, as well as review industry standards and best practices. Pinpoint Data is committed to providing the dedicated, expert assistance our customers have come to expect.

For assistance, please contact a Pinpoint Data representative by phone 908-756-9400 or email.