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QR codes vs QR codes powered by GS1

In 2027, retail in stores around the world will begin switch to QR codes powered by GS1. But what is the difference between QR codes by GS1 and the 'normal' QR code?

The difference between a 'normal' QR code and a 'QR code from GS1'.

QR codes are useful for consumers to get information quickly and for companies to share data about their products. Consumers simply need to point their phone's camera at a QR code. 


QR code: the basics

A QR code (Quick Response code) is a two-dimensional code that can contain information such as a URL and contact information. The main feature of a regular QR code is that consumers can scan it with their smartphones to access information, such as product details or a promotion.

QR codes powered by GS1 is a QR code with a clever feature in it: GS1 Digital Link. This allows the product to be linked to multiple online sources with enriched, real-time content.

QR codes powered by GS1 also 'beeps' at the till

The regular QR code cannot be scanned at the retailers' checkout because it only contains a URL, while the GS1 version is a URL that also contains a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). The same code that is now in the barcode. This means it can be scanned in the shops.


For retailers

In addition to the GTIN, QR codes powered by GS1 can also include additional information such as the expiration date, the batch/lot number or the serial number of a product. So, for example, if a warehouse manager at a retailer scans the QR code in the retailer app, he will gain access to product information that is relevant to him. Stock, products available in stores, expiration date or batch and lot number, which can be useful in the event of a recall.

For consumers

Most QR codes on packaging direct consumers to a specific URL, usually for advertising or promotional purposes. QR codes powered by GS1 can do that too, but with that simple scan they also provide access to a large amount of product information that goes beyond the packaging, including information about origin, sustainability and recycling or instructions for use.

Size and reliability

The QR code powered by looks the same as the regular QR code. Small in size and with built-in error correction, making them easy to scan even if the code is damaged.


One smarter barcode, many possibilities

Where the regular QR code refers to only one web page, QR codes powered by GS1 makes it possible to dynamically link to multiple web pages or online databases with the GS1 Digital Link. The regular QR code cannot be scanned at retailers' checkout because it only contains a URL. QR codes powered by GS1 also include a URL with a GTIN, which makes it possible to 'beep' at the till. In addition, it can also include the expiration date, batch/lot number and the serial number. 

QR codes powered by GS1 is therefore not only an upgrade of the regular QR code, but also of the barcode. As a result, only one code will soon be needed on a package in retail. With the QR code powered by GS1, everything is possible and all with a single scan.