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GS1 UK invites brands to help design the future of retail

12 September 2023, London - After celebrating the barcode’s 50th birthday, GS1 UK have announced the launch of a new pilot programme that will harness the power of its 59,000 strong membership to shape the future of retail.

Building on the five decades of collaboration that followed the adoption of the barcode by industry, GS1 UK is seeking ambitious brands to help develop the next generation of on-pack labelling - QR codes powered by GS1.

From consumers and regulators to brand owners and retailers, everyone wants to know more about products they buy, sell or consume. As space on-pack is finite, there will always be a limit to the amount of information physical labels can carry and, with 94% of consumers now owning a smartphone, there is a growing expectation that comprehensive product information should be instantly accessible.

In addition, brands large and small are now grappling with a plethora of new labelling demands, both at home and when trading overseas. In 2020 alone, there were over 600 legislative requirements for ESG reporting, over 300 of which were mandatory. Such requirements continue to increase as governments and consumers expect greater transparency throughout the supply chain.  

Today people need better ways of accessing product information. Combining two of the most important inventions of the 20th century, the internet and the barcode, QR codes powered by GS1 are the solution to this challenge, allowing businesses of all sizes to not only meet the data demands of today, but also those of tomorrow.

Since its first scan, the linear barcode has powered global commerce, transforming the way we work and live. GS1 barcodes are now scanned more than ten billion times a day but, while they have delivered countless benefits to consumers and businesses alike, the vital information they carry is typically accessible only to those within industry. QR codes on the other hand are largely used to connect consumers to a single web page.  

QR codes powered by GS1 can fulfil both these functions and much more, offering infinite possibilities through one simple scan. They enable a wide range of enhanced consumer experiences and improved business operations, all by carrying and enabling access to for more information and still with the potential to go “beep” at the till.

With transformation of this scale, GS1 UK wants to ensure it is grounded in reality, so are piloting this new innovation with their members to test it in the real world.

Participating brands will not only benefit from new ways of engaging with their consumers, they will also have the opportunity to inform GS1 UK’s approach to supporting the development and future implementation of this next generation of barcode

Those with a mission, purpose, or story to tell will have the ability to bring their brand to life, speaking directly to their consumers through one simple smartphone scan, providing instant access to trusted information and richer personalised experiences. The brands retain full control; can tailor online sources to specific products or users; and can update information without ever having to alter their physical packaging.

One of the first brands to join the pilot was Ntsama, an emerging food brand that produces delicious chilli oils and sauces using only the finest, locally sourced, ingredients. Founder Joyce Gannon started her business after the death of her dear friend “Mama Ntsama”, an elderly Cameroonian lady who took great pride in her much-loved chilli oil recipes. Fuelled by a desire to continue her legacy and share her oils and sauces with the world, Joyce has been using QR codes powered by GS1 to share recipe ideas, nutritional information and even an augmented reality video telling the story of Mama Ntsama. This has helped the brand increase sales and re-order rates, build brand loyalty, boost engagement and answer hundreds of consumer queries – all through one simple scan.

Joyce said:” I know there are many other chilli products on the market today, but Mama Ntsama’s chilli oil is prepared uniquely, giving it a unique and unforgettable taste. I can now complement that taste with a unique and innovative digital experience.”

Sarah Atkins, CMO and membership director at GS1 UK said: “In 1973, retail industry leaders came together to develop a common solution that would change the course of global commerce forever. 50 years on, we are now embarking on the next chapter of our collaboration with industry by offering UK businesses the chance to be at the forefront of the next barcode revolution.

“We look forward to working with pioneering brands to bring their stories to life in the hands of the ever more demanding consumers.

“Collaboration is key to us solving the challenges of the future and with the support of our members we will explore how the next generation of barcodes can transform the next fifty years of retail. The pilot will help us shape how we help brands prepare for the future drive efficiencies and help consumers lead more sustainable, safer and smarter lives.”

To find out more and to register interest, please visit


Notes to editors

For more information, case studies and examples of QR codes powered by GS1 UK in action, visit:

For further information or requests for interviews, contact Alex Cox: 07464 946 769;

About GS1 UK

Whether online, in store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 global standards is helping our community of more than 58,000 organisations across the UK to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone.

From product barcodes to patient wristbands, GS1 standards have been transforming the way we work and live for nearly 50 years.

GS1 UK is one of 116 neutral and independent GS1 organisations operating worldwide. / @gs1uk