Opinion: the next-gen barcode

In a recent letter published by The Grocer, GS1 UK CMO and membership director Sarah Atkins explains why GS1 is supporting a global transition to the next generation of on-pack labelling.

woman scanning QR code

Since being adopted by the grocery industry in 1973, barcodes have revolutionised our day-to-day lives. However, the world has changed since that first beep at the till. 

Consumers are demanding more information on the products they buy, from what they are made of and where they are produced to how best to use and recycle them. In addition, brands are grappling with a plethora of new labelling demands, both at home and overseas. 

That is why GS1 is now supporting a global transition to the next generation of on-pack labelling. A single, smarter QR code that can hold significantly more data, has the power to improve supply chain visibility, ensure product safety and bring a wealth of information to consumers - both at home and in store – while also going beep at the till. 

Sarah Atkins

Sarah Atkins, GS1 UK CMO and membership director

By connecting GS1 identifiers such as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) to the internet and making them accessible via a simple smartphone scan, they can act as a gateway to dynamic digital content. Product data can be updated in real-time ensuring that consumers have easy access to the information they need to stay informed and protected, while brand owners and retailers can choose to encode additional attributes – expiry dates, lot numbers, serial numbers, etc. –to support supply chain optimisation. 

With transformation of this scale, we need to ensure any approach is grounded in reality. This is why GS1 UK has embarked on a pilot programme to trial this innovation with our 60,000-strong membership, to explore how QR codes will transform the next 50 years of retail. 

The ability to increase information for consumers without complexity is just one of the benefits of QR codes powered by GS1. We are excited to see how brands large and small can make use of this new customer channel and look forward to seeing them power the supply chains and retail experiences of the future.


Opinion piece

QR codes powered by GS1

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