Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as McCathie, L and Michael, K, Is it the end of barcodes in supply chain management?, in Proceedings of the Collaborative Electronic Commerce Technology and Research Conference LatAm, University of Talca, Chile, 3-5 October 2005, 1-19. Original proceedings available here.


Barcode is a mature automatic identification (auto-ID) technology that has been used in supply chain management (SCM) for several decades. Such has been the domination of the auto-ID technique that it has pervaded all facets of SCM, from item-level identification to transportation applications. It has enjoyed free reign especially in the retail sector. However, recently radio-frequency identification (RFID) has been considered a rival technology, more superior in terms of its power to store and update information instantaneously, and non-line of sight (nLoS) ability to be read. Yet RFID is more costly and for the present barcode is still the most widely used and accepted standard worldwide. This paper makes use of document analysis and interviews as sources to support the premise that while RFID may be looming, the need for barcode in the supply chain will never really disappear. What is being observed rather is a pattern of convergence, suggesting a need for both technologies to be integrated into the supply chain, each serving toward a common goal.