QR code powered by GS1: definition and benefits

Thursday 28 March 2024 
Elsa Benaiche Elsa Benaiche
3 minutes
QR code powered by GS1: definition and benefits

GS1 powered QR codes are progressively replacing traditional barcodes and by 2027, all stores are expected to be able to read them at checkout.

These « new generation1 » barcodes optimize the entire supply chain and change the way in which consumers are buying.

Read the definition of GS1 QR codes and the benefits they provide to businesses.

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GS1 powered QR codes: what are they?

What are these new QR codes?

Traditional EAN-13 barcodes were initially composed of 24 bars representing the 13 digits in the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) code.

To progressively replace them, GS1 introduced the GS1 QR code which includes a GS1 digital link2 containing the GTIN.

new QR codes - definition

When different profiles (shoppers, checkout staff, distributors…) scan the GS1 QR code, they can access the information they need about a product online and/or offline. There are several different means of reading the QR code: checkout till, smartphone, professional mobile app…

For example, if a distributor scans the product via their professional mobile app, they will be directed to the information they need: stock levels, order preparation, promotion of products depending on the time of year… Similarly, a checkout employee who scans the product will access information they need for their job such as the product code, batch number and/or expiry date.

The purpose of the GS1 powered QR code

Consumers expect more information and traditional barcodes have reached their limits in the volumes of data they can contain. This means that some products are now carrying several barcodes, each with specific types of information (additional product information, promotional interactions, supply chain organization…) taking up more and more space on packaging.

The aim of the GS1 QR code is to provide access to vast amounts of product-related information through a unique QR Code symbol. This code can contain up to 4000 characters3 as opposed to around fifteen3 for traditional barcodes.

The benefits of the GS1 QR code

Increased consumer engagement

The QR code powered by GS1 is a means of engaging shoppers and helping them to make an informed purchasing decision. It can connect to « multiple information sources » relating to the product: websites, videos, documents, images… and give them access to various data:

  • Product origin
  • Recyclability
  • Carbon footprint
  • Composition
  • User guidelines
  • Recipe ideas…

Its simplicity in providing access to product information is crucial as consumers are increasingly looking for transparency. 71% of consumers4 are attentive to a brand's transparency and are willing to pay more when they get it.

Improved compliance with regulations

Policies, laws, and regulations differ from one country to another and can change very quickly. In the clothing industry for example, over 35 new rules3 relating to consumer information will be brought in over the next five years.

To meet this challenge, these new QR codes will enable brands to adapt their information to the rules of each country and to update it as needed, without changing their packaging. Shoppers will therefore have access to the right information, wherever they are.

Increased personalization of the customer experience

More and more brands are using the GS1 powered QR Code alongside traditional barcodes to direct shoppers towards « dedicated web services3 ».

The QR code uses a « resolver6 » to create customized redirections giving the shopper access to unique digital content depending on the context they are in when they scan the product.

For example, in order to perform on the digital shelf, during the holiday season, a brand may choose to redirect shoppers that have scanned a packet of flour towards a pie or cookie recipe: 11% of brands7 use the GS1 powered QR code to share this type of content.

Improved traceability

The QR Code can be read throughout the supply chain. It enables you to follow the « product's journey3 » from when it is scanned: delivery, repair, recycling… and contains precise information such as use by date, serial number, or batch number.

product traceability

This provides regulation authorities with better information on the composition of products, their origins, and their journey throughout their lifecycle, from the production phase through to their sale on the market.

To process this information and guarantee a seamless transition to the GS1 QR Code, you can equip your business with a PIM solution. PIM (Product Information Management) allows you to manage all your product information through a unique database (stock levels, traceability, composition, technical characteristics…), and to improve the quality of data: enrich, update, validate… These efforts are essential to increase conversions as 85% of consumers8 are attentive to the quality of product information as part of their decision to buy.

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1 Le QR Code augmenté GS1 est le code-barres nouvelle génération !. GS1.
2 GS1 Digital Link. GS1.
3 Henry, L. (2023, December 1). Remplacer le code-barres, l'ambition du QR Code augmenté.
4 Haller, K., Lee, J., & Cheung, J. Meet the 2020 consumers driving change. IBM.
5 Guide de mise en œuvre du QR Code augmenté GS1. GS1.
6 Qu'est-ce qu'un résolveur ? Foire Aux Questions GS1.
7 Replay - Webinar QR Code augmenté GS1. (2023, September 13). [Vidéo]. GS1 France.
8 ThinkwithGoogle. (2020, September 3). IC-2019 38. Think With Google.

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