What are GS1 Standards?

Learn about the simple way for brands to ensure accuracy and transparency throughout the supply chain and beyond.

September 25, 2023

Following GS1 standards is a simple way for many brands to ensure accuracy, transparency and more throughout all stages of production and beyond.

This globally-used set of standards helps brands that want to stand out as leaders hold themselves accountable, optimize for maximum efficacy and transparency, and ensure accuracy throughout all stages of the supply chain and beyond.

But what exactly are GS1 standards, why should brands use them, and how they be implemented? Here’s what brands need to know about GS1 standards and how to use them effectively.

What are GS1 Standards?

GS1 standards are a globally used, universal set of standards followed by companies and organizations to ensure accuracy, efficiency, and transparency across supply chains and beyond. Nonprofit organization GS1 creates and maintains these standards.

GS1 standards are implemented with different connecting technologies, including barcodes, quick-response (QR) codes, radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and more. This includes value propositions and best practices.

These standards fall across multiple categories within the supply chain and beyond:

  • Identification: Standards for company and location, products, logistics and shipping, assets and services and more
  • Barcode and EPC/RFID: Standards for capturing and identifying codes on products — the digital product ID that connects the item to an experience and makes it a connected product
  • Data Exchange: Standards regarding the sharing of master, transactional and event data
  • Use: Standards for combining different GS1 standards, like tracking, tracing and transparency

What Benefits Do GS1 Standards Offer?

Beyond better tracking, tracing, efficiency and accuracy, there are strong benefits to brands who implement GS1 standards:

  • Cost-effectiveness: When brands operate on different systems, it takes time and resources to share information and communicate. Streamlining communications in the same electronic system with GS1 standards is the most simple way for brands to share data.
  • Connectivity and Solutions for Brands that Don’t Have Direct Relationships: A brand selling a product to a distributor becomes connected to retailers that obtain sell products when those digital product IDs — from barcodes, QR codes and more — are scanned.
  • Although the brand only corresponds or partners with the distributor directly (and not the retailer), they can access information and metrics from retailers who scan and sell those products — and vice versa.

With over 2 million companies using GS1 standards, there are near-endless opportunities for brands to connect with retailers, consumers and more when following the guidance.

What Types of Products/Industries Can Best Make Use of GS1 Standards?

All brands benefit from better accuracy, efficacy and traceability — but some may benefit from implementing GS1 standards more than others.

  • CPG: Consumer packaged goods are typically manufactured and sent to distributors or retailers in large quantities — and sold to consumers in small, frequent amounts. Whether it’s a food item, household cleaning products or something else, all brands, retailers and consumers benefit from better accuracy and efficacy in the supply chain and beyond when adhering to GS1 standards.
  • Circular and Sustainable Brands: For brands whose aim is to be circular, tracking, tracing, transparency and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) are crucial. Adhering to universal standards empowers brands to be leaders in the sustainability sector.
  • Healthcare: When dealing with sensitive and often critical patient information, accuracy and efficiency are of utmost importance. GS1 standards help brands and healthcare providers ensure patients can receive the best care tailored for them and that healthcare providers can give it to them.

GS1 Standards in Action

Here’s how GS1 standards with digital product IDs empower brands with improved connectivity and traceability.

Feile Foods: Automation and Improved Accuracy with GS1 Standards

After a scare where a potentially cancer-causing chemical, dioxin, was found in pork products on shelves across Ireland in 2008, companies wanted to take swift and effective action to protect consumers in the moment and the future.

The contamination revealed gaps in traceability and supply chain processes, which Feile Foods set out to fix. Feile Foods was empowered to adopt GS1 standards to more accurately monitor supply chain processes and enhance their capability for tracking, tracing and more.

In adopting GS1 standards, Feile Foods:

  • Automated supply chain processes
  • Created the capacity for regulatory tracking and tracing
  • Established a system to match batch numbers with consumer loyalty card systems for better product recall capabilities
  • Enhanced POS product identification
  • Increased the ability to store additional data, including lot number, expiration dates, etc
  • Give further support for product authentication and recalls

What Do Digital Product IDs Do For Brands?

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