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Why the USPS Launched New QR-like Barcodes on Shipping Labels

Why the USPS Launched QR Codes on Shipping Labels

The USPS added new barcodes to shipping labels to increase their readability (see clarification below). The Postal Service explained that soft packs (think clothing) and irregularly-shaped parcels can end up with unreadable barcodes.

The new “two-dimensional Intelligent Mail matrix barcodes” appear on shipping labels above and below the one-dimensional Intelligent Mail package barcode and contain the same tracking number.

An announcement on USPS Link quoted Jim Bodling, a mail and package visibility information system specialist: “Some packages from mailers — usually clothing, pill bottles and similar items — can result in distortion of label barcodes while being processed on automated equipment.

“The additional two barcodes increase the readability, cut down on rehandling packages, and improve visibility and tracking, resulting in a better customer experience.”

During the first two months of fiscal year 2023 (which began October 1st), over 3.7 million packages were scanned using the new barcodes.

The USPS pointed to a November 22nd post on PostalPro where shippers could obtain more information about the new barcodes.

Update 1/31/2023: A reader informed us that there is a difference between the new barcodes the USPS is using and QR codes, so we doublechecked the USPS Link announcement and realized it stated that its new two-dimensional Intelligent Mail matrix barcodes “are similar to QR codes.” Thanks to the reader for the clarification.

Source: USPS
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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

4 thoughts on “Why the USPS Launched New QR-like Barcodes on Shipping Labels”

  1. Why has USPS lost / misplaced / stolen three of my packages in just one month’s time? Hmm? Contacting them merely results in generic, canned replies. USPS sucks!

    1. I had that issue for a long time, I tried adding labels that there was nothing worth stealing, that helped some, but did not solve it. All that were getting stuck in the system were about very thin poly mailers. What I do now, and it cut the losses down significantly, is to put padding inside the mailers so that it is about one inch thick. This keeps it out of the automated letter sorting machinery where they get chewed up. The fatter package is also less likely to get overlooked. I also bought brightly colored poly bags that helped. Further, I make very sure that the sealing parts don’t leave anything sticky that can attach to other mail pieces.

  2. A very smart idea and works very well in case the tracking barcode does not scan for some reason which happens more than one would think.

  3. “The new “two-dimensional Intelligent Mail matrix barcodes” appear on shipping labels above and below the one-dimensional Intelligent ”

    At least something is intelligent at the post office

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