Edition 73
Labeling Standards. RLA Members Welcome the New “sQRrl” codes
by Ron Lembke, Chair, RLA Standards Committee, RLA Standards Committee

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Labeling Standards.
RLA Members Welcome the New “sQRrl” codes

The response to the announcement of the sQRrl (Standard QR codes for Reverse Logistics) codes was encouraging. I had the opportunity to present this new initiative to the Board of Directors of the RLA, in the Standards Committee meeting, to the Consumer Electronics Committee, and during a plenary panel session. We had a booth in the exhibit hall that was staffed throughout the conference. As a result, we had many opportunities to get input from RLA members about the standard.

As with any brand new idea, the initial response of many people was skeptical, and it is always helpful when people play the Devil’s advocate. We welcome as many questions as we can get, because that is how we will make the standard better. When I presented to the Board of Directors, Tom Maher of Dell was skeptical. But in his keynote presentation, he said that I may have changed his mind. He had asked some great questions in the board meeting, and fortunately, they were all issues we on the committee had discussed internally or with other people, so I was able to allay his concerns. After he had some time think about it, he could see the value sQRrl codes can offer. For example, Dell has concerns about counterfeiting, and we believe that the ability to use encryption in the sQRrl code fields could help them in their efforts to fight counterfeiters.

We are not trying to mandate that people use them, or how they use them. But we do believe that they offer companies an efficient, effective way to share information with their retail and supply chain partners. Companies can include whichever fields they believe add value, and none of the others.

Visitors to the booth at the show asked many great questions and had many valuable solutions. As just a couple of examples of additions that have been made fairly recently, I want to highlight a few things:

1. Encryption – Anything on a QR code can be read by anyone with a QR code reader. We thought companies might appreciate to put things that could not be read by the general public, and we initially created a small number of fields that could be encrypted. But Bruce Brown, of Informission, who is developing the software for creating QR codes for us, said there was no reason we needed to limit the number of encryptable fields. As a result, now any of the 60+ fields can be encrypted.

2. Geolocation – Bruce also found a way to capture geographic location information from the end user. So when an end user scans the QR code, when it pings the server, the server records the geographic location of the end user. This gives the company tremendous potential for collecting and analyzing data. If for example, the manufacturer discovers that it is getting many scans from customers in stores of one particular retailer, it might want to make changes to its packaging or displays. Also, for the first time, companies can find out exactly how geographically dispersed its products become. A company may discover that a surprising number of its products have made their way into countries where the company has no direct sales presence, which can have valuable implications for discovering valuable new markets for retailing, as well as RL opportunities for after sales service and support.

3. Transportation fields – as Ken Jacobsen described in his article, we had many requests for fields related to shipping, customs and international trade. As a result, we have added fields for this information, as well.

So far, the response has been very encouraging, but we know that there must be many other useful fields that have not been suggested to us. We look forward to hearing more ideas from the members of the RLA. If you have any ideas, questions, or suggestions, please email me or Ken, and we would love to talk to you.
Ron Lembke
Chair, RLA Standards Committee

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