2D Barcodes for Exporters

Protect your brand from counterfeiters and improve brand trust with overseas customers. See how 2D barcodes provide the solution.

What exporters need to know about 2D Barcodes

Counterfeit food and beverage products are competing with Australian exporters for shelf space overseas, and in many cases are actually outselling the real deal. This can do lasting damage to a brand, not to mention put consumers in danger.

Because the 2D barcode can hold a large amount of data in a small space, and can be scanned by consumers’ smartphones, you can use it to demonstrate product authenticity and provenance, which ultimately protects your brand, customers, and profits.

Consumers simply scan the 2D barcode using their smartphone to identify the individual product, along with its origin and other key information, such as recipes or instructions.

2D Barcodes for Exporters

Advantages of 2D Barcodes for Exporters

With the ability to digitally carry more data and content, 2D barcodes allow you to provide different data to different partners along the supply chain, right through to the consumer:

Brand protection and anti-counterfeiting: Provides detailed product information and provenance to consumers and trading partners, which prevents the risk of counterfeit products and protects the brand.

Greater brand trust: Provides consumers with reassurance they’re buying the legitimate brand through product authentication.

Improved consumer engagement: 2D codes can encode webpage links, so when the consumer scans the code, you can direct them to further information about the product or brand, such as manuals, video guides or engaging content.

Market research: Use 2D barcodes to engage with consumers through surveys at the point of scan, helping you to understand your target audience. Some technologies even allow you to see where products have been scanned, so you have visibility of your market.

See also the advantages of 2D barcodes for brand owners.

How to Transition to 2D Barcodes


Identify use case and export requirements

What are your business goals for using the 2D barcodes? For example, do you want to ensure consumers know your brand is authentic? This will determine what data is embedded in your 2D barcode.

Also, understand any legal or regulatory requirements of the country you are exporting to.


Select the right data and symbols

Decide whether to use GS1 DataMatrix or QR codes, depending on your goals.

Work out which additional data attributes are required based on your use case, trading partners, and industry guidance.


Update in-line printing equipment

Many brand owners already have experience printing variable data in line, with human-readable batch/lot numbers and use-by dates.

However, you may need to still upgrade in-line printing systems to print 2D barcodes for export applications.

Talk to Matthews Australasia about which equipment will best fit your printing and labelling needs.

2D Barcode Checklist

  • Ensure high quality 2D barcodes for scanning:
    • Use high-speed digital printing technology
    • Ensure your label stock is non-glossy. Matte stock is preferred for products kept in refrigerated environments.
    • Check barcode contrast.
  • Print 2D barcodes at the right size.
    • Consider the amount of space on-pack, scanning environment, print quality and resolution.
    • The target size for DataMatrix is 0.625 or 0.750 X-dimension, with 22 rows x 22 columns in a square format.
    • The size of the symbol should be determined by your printing process and based on the Dots Per Inch (DPI) of your printer (recommended 300 DPI or higher).
  • Test your 2D barcodes.
    • To ensure your barcodes scan first time, every time, submit your label samples for a GS1 Barcode Check. Speak to GS1 Australia for help with barcode verification.


Do I need 2D barcodes for export?

The business case for 2D barcodes on export products is strong. Consider the cost of not using 2D barcodes to authenticate your products in export markets.

Without 2D barcodes to help authenticate your products and show provenance, you can lose customers and market share.

How do I get started?

Start discussions with solution providers early. They can recommend and help guide you towards the right coding, labelling or data capture solution for your needs, which will ensure a smooth transition for all involved.

Which should be included as human readable interpretation text?

Human readable interpretation (HRI) text refers to text printed exactly as it is encoded in the barcode. For 2D barcodes encoding a large amount of data, it is not practical to display all the data in HRI form.

It is mandatory to print the GTIN (at a minimum) underneath a GS1 DataMatrix barcode. This enables manual processing of the GTIN at POS when the barcode cannot be scanned.

What are GS1 Application Identifiers?

GS1 Application Identifiers (AI) are used to enable scanners to understand what information it is reading. An AI code is required in front of each piece of data.

Each AI is a numeric code made up of two, three, or four digits.

Common AIs include:

01 Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)

391 Sell price

310 NET weight in kgs

17 Use by/ Expiry date

15 Best before date

10 Batch/Lot number