Barcode Types:1D & 2D Barcodes for Retail, Healthcare, Grocery & More

Barcodes are ubiquitous. They are used almost in every industry, from retail to healthcare. Barcode technology promotes better decision-making, helps obtain data rapidly, improves inventory control, and is inexpensive compared to most modern technologies out there. Industries such as retail and logistics heavily rely on barcodes for their functioning. While different industries use barcodes for several purposes, the type of barcode types also differs. Let’s discuss some common barcode types used for healthcare, grocery, retail, and more.

Types of Barcodes

When it comes to barcode types, all barcodes can be classified into 1-dimensional barcodes and 2-dimensional barcodes. The classification is done based on how it is represented. A barcode is essentially a method of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form. 1-D or 1-dimensional barcodes are represented by black and white parallel lines. Hence, they are also called linear barcodes. On the other hand, 2-dimensional barcodes consist of hexagons, dots, and rectangles. Both 1D and 2D barcodes require a special optical scanner, also called a barcode scanner or barcode reader, to be read. Today, smartphones can also be converted into a barcode scanner by installing special barcode scanning applications. Or, you can use an online barcode scanner on your laptop or tablet to scan different types of barcodes.

1D and 2D Barcodes for Different Industries

Different barcode types are used for different applications. Let’s discuss some of the most common ones.


Retail is one industry that cannot run without barcodes. You would have definitely noticed store employees holding a barcode scanner during checkouts. Be it for managing inventory or for better customer service, barcode technology has become an inseparable part of retail. Below are some 1D and 2D barcodes commonly used in retail.

1D Barcodes: UPC-A and UPC-E are the two most common 1D barcode types used in retail. UPC stands for Universal Product Code. While UPC-A was created in 1971 by IBM, UPC-E is its enhanced version. Other 1D barcode types used in retail are EAN-8, EAN-13, Industrial 2 of 5, Code 93, etc.

2D Barcodes: QR Codes, DataMatrix codes, GS1 Composite codes, etc., are some of the most commonly used 2D barcode types in the retail industry.


The healthcare industry is seeing a surge in the use of barcodes. Not only is its usage increasing, but the way it is used is also diversifying. Barcode technology helps increase patient safety, automate administrative tasks, improve data security, track medication authenticity, and even combat Covid-19.

1D Barcodes: Common 1D barcodes used in healthcare are Codabar, Code 39, etc.

2D Barcodes: DataMatrix codes are used in healthcare to track medication authenticity. Healthcare professionals can use a barcode reader to scan the DataMatrix codes on prescribed medication to verify its authenticity and enable traceability.


Barcodes improve real-time visibility in logistics that further help in identifying bottlenecks and scheduling and tracking inventory replenishments. It keeps errors at bay and reduces costs and time.

1D Barcodes: Interleaved 2 of 5, Code Code 93, Code 128, Codabar, etc., are some common 1D barcodes used in logistics.

2D Barcodes: MaxiCode is a commonly 2D barcode in logistics. A MaxiCode can store up to 93 data characters, and it is a fixed-sized code. PDF417 is another common 2D barcode type used in logistics.

Distribution and Warehousing

Warehousing is heavily dependent on barcode technology. A barcode-based warehouse management system is much effective and efficient. Barcodes help track the items and make information easily accessible. All it takes is a barcode scan, and you are good to go.

1D Barcodes: UPC-A, UPC-E, Industrial 2 of 5, and MSI codes are some of the standard 1D barcode types that are used in distribution and warehousing.

2D Barcodes: Common 2D barcodes used in distribution and warehousing include PDF417 and DataMatrix codes.

Automotive Industry

Barcode technology plays a crucial role in the automotive industry. It may not be the first name that comes to your mind when you think of barcodes, but the technology has helped revolutionize this industry by streamlining supply chain workflows. Whether it’s 1D barcodes or 2D barcodes, the automotive industry makes use of barcode technology every hour, every day.

1D Barcodes: Code39, Extended Code 39, and Code 93 are standard 1D barcodes used in the automotive industry.

2D Barcodes: QR codes and DPM DataMatrix codes are commonly used 2D barcodes in the automotive industry.

Importance of a Barcode Scanner and How to Choose One?

One of the main benefits of barcode technology is that it helps obtain data instantly. But, the information cannot be understood by a common person. Hence, a barcode scanner is required to read the barcode and decode the information. Before the advent of smartphones, the job of barcode scanning heavily relied upon handheld scanners. With the evolution of technology, now you can use your smartphone as a barcode reader. Not to mention, you can also use an online barcode scanner to read barcodes on your laptop or tablet. While the market is flooded with a large number of barcode readers, it may get a little trickier to decide which one to choose.

Good Speed: One of the major benefits of barcode technology is that it helps save a lot of time. Hence, there’s no point in investing in a barcode scanner that is slow. Leading barcode readers can scan more than 500 barcodes in a minute. Consider choosing such barcode scanners.

Reads Tough Barcodes: Most barcode readers fail to read angled, skewed, incomplete, and wrinkled barcodes. Look for a barcode scanner that can read tough barcodes. It should be able to provide accurate results without a hitch.

Works in a Challenging Environment: An ordinary barcode reader may not be able to read barcodes in low light or poor contrast. Opt for a barcode scanner that works in challenging conditions.

Reads Different Barcode Types: Most barcode readers fail to scan different barcode types. Choose the one that reads most of the common 1D and 2D barcodes. Doing so will help save time, cost, and effort in the long run.

Before finalizing a barcode scanner, don’t forget to consider all these pointers. Also, go through all the barcode types to decide which ones suit your business requirements the most. Once implemented, you can enjoy the many benefits of barcode technology and save time and costs.

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