GS1 is a not-for-profit organization that develops and maintains global standards for business communication. The best known of these standards is the barcode, a symbol printed on products that can be scanned electronically. GS1 barcodes are scanned more than six billion times every day.
|Founded||26 April 1974|
Number of locations
|More than 114 offices worldwide|
|Miguel A. Lopera (CEO)|
GS1 has 114 local member organisations and 1.5 million user companies.
GS1 standards are designed to improve the efficiency, safety and visibility of supply chains across physical and digital channels in 25 sectors. They form a business language that identifies, captures and shares key information about products, locations, assets and more.
In 1969, the retail industry in the US was searching for a way to speed up the check-out process in shops. The Ad Hoc Committee for a Uniform Grocery Product Identification Code was established to find a solution.
In 1973, the Universal Product Code (UPC) was selected by this group as the first single standard for unique product identification, and in 1974, the Uniform Code Council (UCC) was founded to administer the standard. On 26 June 1974, a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum became the first ever product with a barcode to be scanned in a shop.
In 1976, the original 12-digit code was expanded to 13 digits, which opened the doors for the identification system to be used outside the U.S. In 1977, the European Article Numbering Association (EAN) was established in Brussels and with founding members from 12 countries.
In 1990, EAN and UCC signed a global cooperation agreement and expanded overall presence to 45 countries. In 1999, EAN and UCC launched the Auto-ID Centre to develop Electronic Product Code (EPC) enabling GS1 standards to be used for RFID.
In 2004, EAN and UCC launched the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), a global, internet-based initiative that enables trading partners to efficiently exchange product master data.
By 2005, the organisation was present in over 90 countries which started to use the name GS1 on a worldwide basis. Whilst "GS1" is not an acronym it refers to the organisation offering one global system of standards.
Barcodes defined by GS1 standards are very common. GS1 introduced the barcode in 1974. They encode a product identification number that can be scanned electronically, making it easier for products to be tracked, processed, and stored.
Barcodes allow for greater safety, reliability, speed and efficiency of supply chains. They have a crucial role in the retail industry, moving beyond just faster checkout to improved inventory and delivery management and the opportunity to sell online on a global scale. In the UK alone, the introduction of the barcode in the retail industry has resulted in savings of 10.5 billion pounds per year.
The most important GS1 standard is the GTIN. It identifies products uniquely around the world and forms the base of the GS1 system.
Main GS1 standards are as follows:
- Core Business Vocabulary (CBV)
- EAN/UPC barcodes
- EPC/RFID tags
- Global Identification Number for Consignment (GINC)
- Global Location Number (GLN)
- Global Product Classification (GPC)
- GS1 DataBar
- GS1 Datamatrix
- GS1 Digital Link
- GS1 EANCOM
- GS1 EDI
- GS1 Mobile Ready Hero Images
- GS1 SmartSearch
- GS1 XML
- HF Air Interface
- UHF Gen2 Air Interface
GS1 also acts as the secretariat for ISO’s Automatic identification and data capture techniques technical committee (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31).
GS1 standards are developed and maintained through the GS1 Global Standards Management Process (GSMP), a community-based forum that brings together representatives from different industries and businesses. Together they find and implement standards-based solutions to address common supply chain challenges.
Retail was the first industry that GS1 began working with and has remained their primary focus. Today, GS1 operates in four retail sub-sectors on a global level: Apparel, Fresh Foods, CPG/Grocery and General Merchandise.
Key focus areas in retail include sustainability, data quality, compliance with regulatory requirements, trace-ability of products from their origin through delivery, and upstream integration between manufacturers and suppliers.
As consumers continue to switch between in-store and e-commerce shopping channels, a consistent shopping experience, efficiency, safety and speed are expected. GS1 has developed standards that uniquely identify products for the benefit of consumers and for search engines, providing accurate and complete product information digitally.
For many years, GS1 has operated in Healthcare with the primary objective to increase patient safety and drive supply chain efficiency.
Usage of GS1 standards in Healthcare support trace-ability of products from the manufacturer to the patient, contribute to detect counterfeit products, help to prevent medication errors, enable effective recalls and supports clinical processes.
GS1 has over 1.5 million members worldwide. Companies can become members by joining a local GS1 Member Organisation.
Governance and structure
GS1’s governance has three levels:
- First level - GS1 General Assembly, composed of representatives of all Member Organisations.
- Second level - GS1 Management Board responsible for global strategic direction (composed of key leaders from multinational businesses and GS1 Member Organisations). Local GS1 Boards responsible for local strategic directions (composed of key leaders from national companies). GS1’s management board members are individuals with senior positions in the following companies:
- Alibaba Group
- B. Braun Melsungen
- Beijing Hualian Group
- Deutsche Post DHL
- Future Retail
- Independent Grocers Association
- Johnson & Johnson
- LF Logistics
- Procter & Gamble
- GS1 Argentina, GS1 Australia, GS1 Canada, GS1 China, GS1 Germany, GS1 India, GS1 Malta, GS1 UK, GS1 US
- Third level - GS1 Global Office and the Local GS1 Member Organisations (MOs). The GS1 Global Office leads the development and maintenance of new standards. Local MOs focus on local services and standards implementation.
There are also two other boards at global level:
GS1 Member Organisations around the world are funded by their local members through annual membership fees and sales of services.
GS1 partners with other international organisations. Some of GS1’s partners are:
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