From the December 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

You've probably heard about the new bar code regulations, dubbed Sunrise 2005, going into effect January 1. But you may not have made the upgrades to get into compliance. The Uniform Code Council (UCC), the group that brought us the familiar UPC code, has called for businesses to be able to scan the different types of product codes used worldwide and ultimately the 14-digit Global Trade Item Number. This change affects retailers and suppliers.

The good news is that businesses with POS systems don't have a lot of custom enhancements that could trip up upgrade attempts. Packaged software users can ask their vendors for upgrades. Smaller businesses that don't have a POS device, like those that hand-label prices, won't be affected much.

There are many compelling reasons to get into compliance. "The biggest issue is inconvenience. After January 1, the UCC is no longer going to issue 12-digit UPC numbers," says Ray Tromba, director of retail application management systems for IBM Global Services. That's because the global standard will move from 12 to 13 digits. Retailers that want to carry new products need to have their systems prepared to handle them-it saves time and money in the long run. Businesses that carry a lot of overseas products won't have to deal with pesky relabeling.

Tromba recommends that you contact your suppliers to find out how they're dealing with the changes. And if you haven't already done so, it's time to start getting into compliance. "You need to understand the implications of the change on your business," says Tromba, who says that midsize businesses could take up to a year to get into full compliance, while smaller businesses with less complex POS systems should be able to move faster. For more information, visit www.uc-council.org.