Barcode - One of the 50 Things Powering World Economy

50 years ago, on 3 April 1973, barcode was created and forever changed the way we shop. Since its creation in 1973, the symbol is now present on over 1 billion products, and the ‘beep’ at the checkout counter of every store is instantly recognizable worldwide.

Although all barcodes may look pretty similar, the power lies inside, with a simple scan connecting a physical product to digital information that flows across the entire supply chain thanks to global standards.

About GS1

GS1 is a neutral, not-for-profit organisation that provides global standards for efficient business communication. We are best known for the barcode, named in 2016 by the BBC as one of “the 50 things that made the world economy.” GS1 standards improve the efficiency, safety and visibility of supply chains across physical and digital channels in 25 sectors. We enable organisations of all types and sizes to identify, capture and share information seamlessly. Our scale and reach – local Member Organisations in 116 countries, more than 2 million user companies and over 10 billion transactions every day – help ensure that GS1 standards create a common language that supports systems and processes across the globe.

Next-generation barcodes

Next-generation barcodes, such as 2D (two-dimensional) QR codes, can capture large amounts of data for businesses, regulators, consumers and patients, offering more than just links to web pages. They may tell a product’s story, its origins, if it contains allergens, if it is organic, how it can be recycled and what its environmental footprint is. This transparency will help people make decisions about what they buy and use.

GS1 is building a coalition of industry leaders to deploy next-generation barcodes globally, putting technology at the service of efficient trade, more sustainable shopping and patient safety.

It launched a global initiative to transition from traditional to next-generation barcodes with key players in the retail sector at the end of 2020. Over 20 countries and districts, including Australia, China and Brazil, have already started successful pilots. In 2021, GS1 China promoted 2D barcodes and 20 major key branches, including the Zhejiang Branch of GS1 China (Zhejiang Institute of Standardisation), joined the project. In Australia, a 2D program designed to increase awareness, capacity and adoption is in full execution.

“The GS1 barcode is globally recognised and ready for new business. We have experienced 50 years of the barcode transforming how we buy and sell things. As consumers rightly demand more and better product information, and the planet requires us all to maximise the power of data for smart and efficient decisions, we are now launching a global transition from traditional barcodes to next-generation barcodes and we welcome everybody on board for this journey.”

Barcode – One of the 50 Things Powering World Economy
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