Coupon barcode has been in use in retail industry for a long time (mid 1980). At first, it was UPC code with system ID 5. Since UPC code cannot hold more than 12 digits, it requires another barcode to hold the additional information like offer code, expiration date or household ID numbers. Therefore, it gets extension to UCC/EAN 128 barcode attached to it. EAN 13 barcode was also in use instead of UPC code, which starts with 99, hence called EAN 99 coupon barcode. After more than 20 years in use, now there is a need to encode more data for complex couponing, and accommodate longer company ID, and the traditional coupon code becomes less efficient and sometimes not usable at all.
- Cannot accommodate longer company ID: It cannot accommodate bigger Company Prefix ID: Traditional UPC/EAN Coupon code can hold company prefix with 6 digits long, but now GS1 is assigning Company Prefix that is more than 6 digits long. Therefore company holding ID number with more than 6 digits long cannot use old UPC barcode for their coupon.
- Complex offer code not possible: For marketing purposes, many complex offers are not possible to encode with old coupon barcode. For example, buy a shampoo and a conditioner, and get a hair get free.
- Frequent manual entry cause delay: In many cases, salesman needs to enter information manually with traditional coupon barcode, especially when a product is free. This manual process delays the purchase process.
- Manual entry cause error: Since old coupon cannot hold many data, information is required to enter manually and hence make the process more error prone.
- Delay and error at register is very costly: Delay at register and coupon processed wrongfully cost retailer a huge amount of money.
There are many limitations and disadvantages with the traditional UPC/EAN based coupons. In order to encounter these problems GS1 comes up with a new solution for coupon barcode. Instead of using UPC barcode and Extended UCC/EAN part, it is decided to use GS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked (formerly RSS Expanded Stacked) barcode. This barcode can hold up to 74 numeric data with multiple application Identifiers, like expiration date, serial number, etc.