Today's Challenges

What Business Cares About

Supply chain fundamentals are being revolutionized to compete and win consumer loyalty. Brands, retailers, and their trading partners are collaborating to rethink the way a product moves, is packaged, and is presented to shoppers.

Amid intense competition, collaboration around standards has never been more important. Standardization enables interoperability and automation, which in turn delivers speed, accuracy, and visibility—all of which are critical to winning the hearts and minds of the tech-savvy consumer.

Moving at the speed of consumers goes far beyond consumer-facing touchpoints. It requires business focus in four major areas: product information, unified commerce, safety and regulatory compliance, and innovation and technology.

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Product Information

The Competition Starts Here

Product information is priority one for serving consumers. To win sales and earn loyalty, companies must provide more than great products. They must deliver reliable, value-added content and great experiences. The right information can’t get to the consumer, and the right product can’t get delivered at the right time, unless data can flow within a company and across trading partners.

The demand for accurate, complete, and consistent information is driving unprecedented industry collaboration on product identification, images and attribute descriptors, transparency, and data quality. As a result, information can be understood and matched across the entire supply chain all the way through to consumer channels.

Unique Product Identification—The Linchpin of Product Data for E-Commerce

Unique product identification serves as the linchpin of product data by making it possible for physical products to link to their descriptive digital data. A single, global standard for product identification—the Global Trade Item Number® (GTIN®)—enables interoperability, automation, and validation of data which is essential for consistently and seamlessly sharing accurate and authentic product information between trading partners and across consumer channels.

GS1 US® continues to work with industry to strengthen core unique identification standards to better support a frictionless consumer experience. That includes improving how GTINs are validated and managed, used for product variations, and ultimately reused.

Unique Product Identification
Images and Attributes

Images and Attributes—The Face of Product Data

Images and attributes play an increasingly significant role in purchasing decisions. Inconsistent or unclear product images are a source of frustration. Nearly 90 percent of consumers say they would be unlikely to consider a retailer again if they provided incorrect information for a purchased product, according to a Shotfarm study. Further, Conflicting characteristics that inaccurately describe key product features—known as product attributes—make it difficult for consumers to make proper choices. By standardizing product images and data attributes, industry stakeholders aim to serve consumers, while improving time to market and eliminating duplicate work by trading partners.

Addressing a lack of minimum image requirements among retail grocery trading partners, the GS1 US Retail Grocery Initiative developed the Product Images Application Guideline for the Retail Grocery Industry in 2016. In addition, the GS1 US Guidance for Sharing Product Attributes via GDSN® in Retail Grocery was released in January 2017.

Download GS1 US Guidance for Sharing Product Attributes via GDSN in Retail Grocery PDF (3 MB)

In addition, the GS1 US Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative created letter templates to help retailer and supplier team members encourage intra-organizational adoption of standards-based images and attributes.

Download Supplier-focused, “Making a Case for Using Product Information Standards” PDF (18 KB) and Retailer-focused, “Helping Bridge the Product Information Gap to Meet Consumer Demand” DOC (19 KB)

Product Information Transparency—Driving Consumer Loyalty

Consumers reward brands for disclosing detailed, in-depth, and accurate information about their products: what they contain, how they were made, where they come from, and how to use them. As consumers pose broader questions, suppliers and retailers must provide deeper levels of transparency to stay competitive. Combine those consumer demands with government legislation for labeling and product traceability and the result is unprecedented pressure for business to collect, validate, and distribute more information than ever.

Product Information Transparency
Data Quality

Data Quality—The New Risks and Rewards

Product “defects” aren’t always physical. Inaccurate or incomplete information makes consumers less likely to buy. Negative consequences are also high if what arrives on a consumer’s doorstep is not what was expected. Even more damaging are potential health and brand impact for inaccurate allergen content, the number one cause of product recalls. (Source: FDA’s Reportable Food Registry)

Before the online data explosion, data inaccuracies affecting trading partners were considered a cost of doing business. Now, when package measurements are incorrect, it doesn’t just affect a planogram; it degrades the quality of the information being passed along to the consumer. Similarly, errors that lead to inefficiency in the physical flow of goods through the system don’t just cause increased shipping and warehouse costs; these errors also impair fulfillment to the consumer.

To address data quality challenges, supply chain partners have provided input to develop the GS1 US National Data Quality Program. The program helps companies implement a standards-based framework consisting of data governance, education and training, and attribute audits.

View our GS1 US National Data Quality Program webpage >

Unified Commerce

Time's Up for Getting It Right

Expectations for unified commerce connectivity and consistency are no longer just about retail—they are transforming every industry. Despite massive amounts of data and knowing what needs to be done, achieving true digital and physical convergence remains elusive. Gaps remain between back-end systems and public-facing applications and websites—and there is insufficient clarity for how to bridge those gaps.

According to new research from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and RedPoint Global, only 7 percent of marketers can deliver real-time, data-driven engagements across both physical and digital.

Download the GS1 US E-Commerce Fulfillment Guideline R1.0 PDF (957 KB)

EPC-enabled RFID—Optimizing Inventory Visibility and Fulfillment

Insufficient inventory visibility remains a major obstacle in meeting the promise of a seamless shopping experience with flexible fulfillment options. As in-store fulfillment rises in popularity, and cross-channel shoppers demonstrate their higher value, inventory visibility becomes one of the most important links in the supply chain. To address this shortfall, more companies are turning to a familiar technology—Electronic Product Code (EPC®) item level Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)— to provide real-time inventory visibility and order accuracy.

EPC-enabled RFID® makes it possible for retailers to track every piece of merchandise in every retail stock location—raising SKU-level inventory accuracy from an average of 63 percent to greater than 95 percent, according to research from the RFID Lab at Auburn University. (Source:  Auburn University, RFID Lab Studies, https://rfid.auburn.edu/) For manufacturers, item-level tagging delivers an 80 percent improvement in shipping and picking accuracy and a 90 percent improvement to receiving time, according to the RFID Lab. Upstream tagging also enables product authentication and traceability—essential tools for fighting counterfeit or imitation goods.

GS1 US helped Herman Kay, which was asked by Macy’s to tag all outerwear with RFID hangtags, to implement the new technology to benefit its own operations.

View our webpage for Herman Kay Co. case study and video >

EPC-enabled RFID
Better Search

Better Search—Ensuring Discoverability

A consumer can’t buy a product he or she doesn’t know about. Online search makes it easier for consumers to find products in store and online. However, it also dramatically increases competition for brands and sellers.

GS1 Standards can enhance consumer discovery by increasing accuracy and relevance in search results, as well as helping target promotions and improve conversion rates. Using a Global Trade Item Number® (GTIN®). in online product listings works to increase the efficacy of a product’s search results, impressions, clicks, and conversions. One online platform saw 40 percent more impressions and up to a 20 percent lift in conversion rates on items listed with GTINs. (Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6352134?hl=en)

Smarter Analytics—Learning from the Data

Big Data alone isn’t enough. Some 45 percent of shoppers are more likely to shop with brands and retailers that offer personalized recommendations, and predictive analytics are the gateway to these customers.  (Source:  http://www.invespcro.com/blog/online-shopping-personalization/) In this new data-driven era, businesses need systems to help them make connections, extract learnings, and act on those learnings to create new monitization opportunities. Automated data sharing helps connect different pieces of the puzzle—making it possible to optimize data across operations and generate business intelligence necessary to create more relevant consumer engagement.

What’s causing the gap between strategy and execution? Marketers told researchers it’s because of the fractured execution of systems and siloed customer data. In fact, only six percent believe they get a complete view of their customer from all data sources. (Source: CMO Council & RedPoint Global)

Smarter Analytics

Safety & Regulatory Compliance

Protecting Consumers and Brands

While businesses have always cared about product safety, e-commerce and social media have raised the stakes. Chalk it up to more interconnected supply chains and the breakneck speed of news and social media. With product traceability as the main enabler, safety is a top priority, now more than ever. Businesses know that their brands—and their compliance with a host of consumer protection laws—depend on it.

Traceability—Mapping a Product’s Journey

There are many reasons businesses need to know information about a product’s history. A retailer needs to guarantee that the temperature of refrigerated products has been maintained. A manufacturer may need to pinpoint recalled products and remove them from the supply chain to protect public health and their brand reputation. A healthcare provider needs to validate that their patients are receiving genuine products at point of care. Both brand owners and retailers need to be able to provide consumers with detailed product information, including sources, and confidence that their products are authentic.

Regardless of the business need, the ability to uniquely identify and trace a product hinges on visibility up and down the supply chain, requiring consistent and interoperable data-sharing environments. In other words, a company’s internal processes to track a product must be part of a larger system of external data exchange between trading partners.

Traceability
Patient Safety

Patient Safety—Identification and Interoperability

The healthcare industry is working to improve patient safety and fight skyrocketing costs in an era of significant change—including major legislation aimed at illuminating medical device and pharmaceutical supply chains from manufacturer to patient. Both pieces of legislation feature multi-phased implementations, and widespread adoption and compliance are proving challenging.

The FDA UDI rule on the establishment of a Unique Device Identification (UDI) system for medical devices provides a standardized way to identify devices across all information sources and systems, including electronic health records and device registries. GS1 is an FDA-Accredited Issuing Agency with proven product identification and barcoding standards, and GS1 US is helping companies address UDI requirements with resources to assist with implementation.

View the UDI webpage >

Download the Teleflex Case Study PDF (26 MB)

The Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) addresses the exchange of information about an individual drug package’s travels through the supply chain. Serialization of packaging and the resulting traceability will enhance detection and notification of illegitimate products while facilitating more efficient recalls. GS1 US has developed implementation resources to help stakeholders plan, pilot, and implement DSCSA requirements.

Download the case study for AmerisourceBergen teams with Johnson & Johnson Supply Chain for Significant learnings PDF (1.1 MB)

View the DSCSA webpage >

Working collaboratively as members of the GS1 Healthcare US® Initiative, leading healthcare organizations are driving the use of open, global standards to deliver the highest levels of patient care and safety while lowering costs, increasing efficiencies, and adapting to new legislation, reform, and regulations.

Food Safety—Transparency and Traceability

Major transformation in the food industry is being driven by three things: soaring consumer expectations for product information transparency; renewed focus on food safety vigilance sparked by major food recalls in 2016; and new legislation—including labelling genetically modified organism (GMO) foods, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel. All members of the food supply chain are under pressure to optimize traceability programs so they can inform consumers and respond quickly to a major food recall.

A single food recall can lead to severe financial loss and reputational damage for food producers. Fifty-two percent (52%) of all food recalls cost affected U.S. companies more than $10 million each. (Source: Swiss Re report “Food Safety in a Globalised World”)

The GS1 US Retail Grocery Initiative and the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative are producing guidelines, developing best practices, and facilitating discussions between industry stakeholders on how GS1 Standards can help them face these challenges.

Food Safety
Anti-Counterfeit

Anti-Counterfeit—Reducing Imitation Products

The online shopping explosion has opened the door wide for counterfeiters to sneak false products into the supply chain. In many cases, an online retailer does not take actual ownership of the inventory—they simply facilitate the transaction, making it easier for counterfeiters to expand their operations.

For the consumer, the damage caused by an imitation product can be as minimal as the loss of a few dollars or as serious as long-term physical injury. An imitation handbag causes disappointment, but a counterfeit beauty or pharmaceutical product elevates risk to an alarming level.

When supply chain partners commit to product identification using a GS1 GTIN as the first step toward traceability, the incidence of counterfeit products drops significantly. Encoding product listings with GTINs helps retailers determine the authenticity of a product, as the first few digits of the GTIN signify the identity of the manufacturer. Online marketplaces have begun requiring valid GTINs for sellers to list their products, and they will not post the product listing if this is not in place.

Download Counterfeit Goods Create Real Problems white paper PDF (193 KB)

Innovation & Technology

Preparing for Disruption

There are major forces converging and reshaping our world: the cloud, hyper-connectivity, mobile, location, voice and image recognition, augmented and virtual reality, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence. For every business, these forces are changing their consumers and revealing great opportunities to transform how they meet consumers’ needs. To ignore these forces is to risk an up-ended business model. GS1 US is no exception. Innovation into new frontiers requires a strong foundation–unique product identification.

The Consumer Internet of Things—Connecting to the Everyday

We are moving into the age of the Consumer Internet of Things (C-IoT). We can “talk” to objects that order products for us and arrange for their delivery, or our pantry can do it automatically. In healthcare, C-IoT devices can tell us to see a doctor before we even know we need to. A Retail Systems Research (RSR) report found that the majority of retail industry stakeholders agree that IoT will drastically change the way companies do business in the next three years.

Industry analysts predict RFID will be a necessary part of the foundation for IoT and a key enabler of this new highly-connected environment.

The channel integration already being achieved through item-level RFID will be considered an IoT prerequisite. The major difference is that the consumer experience will be even more elevated and prioritized in an IoT world, and communication between “things” as well as supply chain partners will become just as critical to retailer and brand success.

“As the Internet of Things grows, we need an agreement on system architecture and open standards. If leaders don't think this through, and don't create a framework for it to succeed, there’s a real chance that the full potential of the Internet of Things could be compromised.” Sanjay Sarma, Chairman, GS1 Innovation Network, Professor, VP for Open Learning, MIT

The Consumer Internet of Things
Strategic Partnerships

Strategic Partnerships—Expanding the Ecosystem

GS1 US® works with strategic partners as part of our commitment to collaborate and provide our members with innovative solutions to address their most pressing business challenges.

For example, in 2016, five organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), the International Life Sciences Institute North America (ILSI North America), GS1 US, 1WorldSync, and Label Insights formed a collaborative public-private partnership. The resulting “USDA Branded Food Products Database” serves as a main source of food composition data for governments, the public health research community, and the food industry, providing key inputs for agricultural and food policy decisions. 

View the press release >

In addition, the Category Management Association (CMA) recently accredited the GS1 Foundations Online Certificate Courses. The association has recognized that GS1 Standards support the professional knowledge base needed to take each certification exam.

View the press release >

GS1 US Mobile Scan—Revolutionizing Product Identification and Consumer Experience

Interactive physical packaging may revolutionize the way manufacturers and retailers engage with consumers. The GS1 US Mobile ScanTM solution leverages a virtually imperceptible barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone to access a rich set of information, videos, and product tips and tricks. This consumer experience presents an opportunity for both brands and retailers to easily and creatively meet consumers’ needs for specific information about and uses for the product, thereby increasing consumer confidence and sales in the process.

View our GS1 US Mobile Scan webpage >

GS1 US Mobile Scan

Product information is priority one for serving consumers. To win sales and earn loyalty, companies must provide more than great products. They must deliver reliable, value-added content and great experiences. The right information can’t get to the consumer, and the right product can’t get delivered at the right time, unless data can flow within a company and across trading partners.

The demand for accurate, complete, and consistent information is driving unprecedented industry collaboration on product identification, images and attribute descriptors, transparency, and data quality. As a result, information can be understood and matched across the entire supply chain all the way through to consumer channels.

Unique Product Identification—The Linchpin of Product Data for e-Commerce

Unique product identification serves as the linchpin of product data by making it possible for physical products to link to their descriptive digital data. A single, global standard for product identification—the Global Trade Item Number® (GTIN®)—enables interoperability, automation, and validation of data which is essential for consistently and seamlessly sharing accurate and authentic product information between trading partners and across consumer channels.

GS1 US® continues to work with industry to strengthen core unique identification standards to better support a frictionless consumer experience. That includes improving how GTINs are validated and managed, used for product variations, and ultimately reused.

Unique Product Identification
Images and Attributes

Images and Attributes—The Face of Product Data

Images and attributes play an increasingly significant role in purchasing decisions. Inconsistent or unclear product images are a source of frustration. Nearly 90 percent of consumers say they would be unlikely to consider a retailer again if they provided incorrect information for a purchased product, according to a Shotfarm study. Further, conflicting characteristics that inaccurately describe key product features—known as product attributes—make it difficult for consumers to make proper choices. By standardizing product images and data attributes, industry stakeholders aim to serve consumers, while improving time to market and eliminating duplicate work by trading partners.

Addressing a lack of minimum image requirements among retail grocery trading partners, the GS1 US Retail Grocery Initiative developed the Product Images Application Guideline for the Retail Grocery Industry in 2016. In addition, the GS1 US Guidance for Sharing Product Attributes via GDSN® in Retail Grocery was released in January 2017.

Download GS1 US Guidance for Sharing Product Attributes via GDSN in Retail Grocery PDF (3 MB)

In addition, the GS1 US Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative created two new leader awareness template letters to help retailer and supplier team members encourage intra-organizational adoption of standards-based images and attributes at the executive level.

Download Supplier-focused, “Making a Case for Using Product Information Standards” PDF (18 KB) and Retailer-focused, “Helping Bridge the Product Information Gap to Meet Consumer Demand” DOC (19 KB)

Product Information Transparency—Driving Consumer Loyalty

Consumers reward brands for disclosing detailed, in-depth, and accurate information about their products: what they contain, how they were made, where they come from, and how to use them. As consumers pose broader questions, suppliers and retailers must provide deeper levels of transparency to stay competitive. Combine those consumer demands with government legislation for labeling and product traceability and the result is unprecedented pressure for business to collect, validate, and distribute more information than ever.

Product Information Transparency
Data Quality

Data Quality—The New Risks and Rewards

Product “defects” aren’t always physical. Inaccurate or incomplete information makes consumers less likely to buy. Negative consequences are also high if what arrives on a consumer’s doorstep is not what was expected. Even more damaging are potential health and brand impact for inaccurate allergen content, the number one cause of product recalls. (Source: FDA’s Reportable Food Registry)

Before the online data explosion, data inaccuracies affecting trading partners were considered a cost of doing business. For example, when package measurements are incorrect, it doesn’t just affect a planogram. It degrades the quality of the information being passed along to the consumer. Similarly, errors that lead to inefficiency in the physical flow of goods through the system don’t just cause increased shipping and warehouse costs. These errors also impair fulfillment to the consumer. If the consumer doesn’t receive what she ordered, it erodes brand loyalty. If product data is inaccurate in store systems, order in store, ship to home scenarios cannot be implemented.

To address data quality challenges, supply chain partners have provided input to develop the GS1 US National Data Quality Program. The program helps companies implement a standards-based framework consisting of data governance, education and training, and attribute audits.

View our National Data Quality Program webpage >

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