Barcode Compliance Extends Beyond Poor Print Quality

tape over barcode

Our barcode compliance division is seeing a growing percentage of problematic shipments involving shipping label placement issues, rather than barcode format or print quality infractions. Placement-related infractions can range from placing labels on an incorrect carton panel, wrapping barcodes around corners, placing labels over a flap seam, and even placing labels in areas in which they are impacted by tape. It is important to note that, due to varying sortation scanning environments, tape of any color may have an adverse impact on scanning performance.

wrapped barcode label

It is very common for warehouse and shipping positions to have a high level of employee turnover. Consequently, suppliers are encouraged to elevate their training to include visual examples of best practices and specific trading partner requirements. The sad reality is that $0.25 labels created and placed by a company’s lowest-paid employees can result in legitimate offsets of tens of thousands of dollars.

Since 1998, we have been administering barcode certification and compliance programs for major US retailers and manufacturers. The retail industry has dramatically changed over the decades, but the focus on supply chain efficiency has never been greater. Some vendors view barcode compliance charges as a “profit center” for retailers, but as an unbiased testing center, we can attest that the infractions we are processing are very valid. The retailers that utilize our compliance administration services, empower us to support compliance offsets and protect their suppliers’ interests against erroneous reporting.

Our retail partners encourage their vendors to routinely test their barcodes (POS and GS1-128) due to constant changes involving software, hardware, and materials. This year our testing division, Identification Labs, has evaluated thousands of supplier GS1-128 shipping labels for retailers outside our existing partnerships. The primary reason is that these retailers are assessing compliance fees but do not provide the necessary ISO/ANSI certification and assistance to enable their suppliers to comply. Below are a few of the recent supplier-provided retailer GS1-128 formats that we have been asked to evaluate.

AcademyAmazonBass Pro Shop
Williams Sonoma ZapposZuilly

GS1-128 Shipping Label Best Practices

  • Routinely review your trading partners’ requirements. Convey this information to key personnel at your company. For example, JCPenney and Kohls suppliers are encouraged to visit their web portal weekly.
  • Do not assume your company is in compliance. Confirm your company’s compliance by certifying your GS1-128 shipping labels. New personnel and system changes require updated certification for each retailer whose business you value.  A $75 testing/certification fee can prevent unnecessary compliance offsets. We consistently see an increase in label defects from previously certified suppliers who made changes to their label material.

  • Emphasis the importance of GS1-128 Shipping Label Placement to all personnel responsible for handling cartons. Placement requirements vary among retailers so education is key.
  • label compliancePerform routine maintenance on printing equipment and confirm supplies are suitable for your application. If you are having issues with print quality, changing your print heads may solve the problem. We also recommend you always have spare print heads in-house at all times. Print quality infractions account for the largest percentage of GS1-128 issues and can be eliminated by proactive quality control that ensures consistent label compliance.

For the retailers that we partner with, we’re able to promote and guide suppliers to certification immediately after any shipping label-related compliance issues. In some cases, re-certification is simply built into the compliance process – if a label fails in the supply chain that means you automatically need to certify a corrected sample.

Bar Code Graphics is a leader in barcode print quality and is the largest North American barcode testing center for POS and shipping labels. Please feel free to call us at 800.662.0701 x310 or email us at  Information on our in-house barcode testing group can be viewed at

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