To serve the end consumer, companies and other organisations have worked together in supply and demand chains. As end consumers, in all sectors, have become more sophisticated and using their mobile devices to research online before buying in shops, or vice-versa, these traditional supply chains are becoming networks with the consumer at the very centre. Such networks require open, multi-industry standards to operate effectively.
The GS1 system of standards enables the identification of business items and communication of data about these items in ways that can be used in any industry, in any country and with any trading partner.
GS1 standards have many benefits including:
1. Working with all business partners in the same way is most cost-effective
For example, when business data is exchanged electronically and in a standardised manner with all trading partners the implementation effort and operational costs are much lower than compared to tailored solutions which are different for each trading partner. New or improved functionality can also be achieved with a critical mass of trading partners much faster.
2. Providing mutually beneficial solutions for companies that have no direct business relationship
For example, a manufacturer may mark a product with a barcode, the product is sold to retailers through a distributor and this barcode is read by all retailers who receive the product. The barcode is an interface between the manufacturer and the retailers, but the manufacturer’s only business relationship is with the distributor.
Provided all trading partners adhere to the standard, the GS1 system enables barcodes to be read by any standards based scanning system which is mutually beneficial to both manufactures who can barcode their products in the same way for all customers, and for retailers who benefit from having all products barcoded in a consistent, standard, way.
These factors have a profound influence on the design of interfaces between trading partners and the end consumer:
■ They require that interface definitions be negotiated and implemented outside the context of particular trading relationships, and be adhered to by all parties.
■ They require broadly accepted industry standards in which the emphasis is placed on interoperability, maximum applicability to a broad range of business contexts and minimisation of the need for bilateral agreements.
■ These are precisely the principles that underlie the GS1 system of standards.
The Purpose of the GS1 standards
The GS1 system of standards aims to raise the efficiency of business processes and to provide cost savings through automation based on globally unique identification and digital information.
GS1 standards facilitate interoperability in open supply chains.
GS1 standards include data standards and information exchange standards that form the basis of cross-enterprise exchange.
GS1 standards foster the existence of a competitive marketplace for system components.
GS1 standards define interfaces between system components produced by different vendors or in-house development teams.
This provides choice to end users and leads to economies of scale, ultimately reducing costs for end users.
The GS1 identification standards include unique identifiers (called GS1 identification keys), which may be used by an information system to refer unambiguously to a real-world entity such as a trade item, logistics unit, physical location, document, service relationship or other entity.
The GS1 data capture standards include:
- Definitions of barcode and radio-frequency identification (RFID) data carriers, which allow GS1 identification keys and supplementary data to be affixed directly to a physical object.
- Standards that specify consistent interfaces to readers, printers, and other hardware and software components that connect the data carriers to business applications.
GS1 standards for information sharing are:
- Definitions of master data, business transaction data and physical event data.
- Tools for optimising online product search
- Communication standards for sharing this data between applications and trading partners.
- Discovery standards that help locate where relevant data resides across a supply chain and trust standards that help establish the conditions for sharing data in a secure way.