history and investing
for the future
As we celebrate 50 years of powering progress and collaborating with industry, we look to the future as the next generation of GS1 standards are poised to once again transform the way people work and live.
- five decades of collaboration
For more than half a century, GS1 standards have been transforming the way people work and live. Since first being adopted by the grocery industry in 1973, barcodes have propelled global commerce into a new era – an era of control, traceability, digitalisation, and greater customer focus.
April 4 2023, marked the barcode’s 50th birthday. The cross-industry collaboration that drove the development and adoption of GS1 standards has revolutionised our day-to-day lives in ways many do not realise. GS1 barcodes are now scanned more than ten billion times each day. They help us find and buy products online, ensure what we consume is safe, identify the provenance of the products on our shelves, help the NHS save time, money and lives, and much more.
We, along with GS1 colleagues across the globe, have been sharing this story to raise awareness of the impact and importance of data standards in creating a safer, more informed world.
Our anniversary campaign has driven high levels of media interest and industry engagement. As well as highlighting the growing need for quality data, it has laid the foundations for our transition to the next generation of on-pack labelling – QR codes powered by GS1.
As we work with our members and partners to test, refine and drive wider adoption, we look forward to seeing how these single, smarter symbols will power further innovation, efficiencies and support consumers in making more sustainable, safer and smarter choices.
Our role as enablers of change has become even more relevant. The challenges facing consumers, industry and government highlighted in our last annual review have only grown more severe as the cost-of-living and cost-of-doing-business continue to rise.
Industry needs support now more than ever so, as we enter the final year of our three-year strategy, we are investing heavily in a series of programmes that will drive even greater value for all of our membership.
This includes enhancing our core system, My Numberbank. In time, users will benefit from an improved experience, additional product data attributes, more sophisticated functionality and reporting, and greater interoperability all via one
flexible, future-proofed platform.
As a membership organisation, our value proposition must reflect the needs of our diverse membership to provide the best possible products and services. We are now in the process of enhancing our proposition to reinforce our purpose, brand values, and create a platform for the future that will continue to evolve based on your feedback.
CEO, GS1 UK
Providing greater value to the totality of our membership.
As rising inflation and the cost of goods continue to put pressure on global supply chains and household spending, businesses and consumers have faced some of the most challenging commercial situations seen in decades.
In these times of uncertainty, we have sustained our membership and achieved modest year on year growth:
at year ended:
Total new joiners:
Key sectors driving membership growth in 2022-23.
Health, beauty and cosmetics
Whether online, in store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 global standards is helping our community of more than 59,000 organisations across the UK to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone.
Our diverse membership is made up of a wide array of sectors and industries, including:
Reasons for joining
Identifying and barcoding products continues to be the top reason for new members to join GS1 UK, highlighting how barcodes are still powering commerce 50 years on from that very first beep at the till.
Complying with legislation or trading requirements came in second, providing further evidence of the vital role our standards play in allowing products to move through the supply chain and powering seamless sales both at home and overseas.
Using Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID) and complying with UDI requirements for medical devices also ranked highly, showing how over the past 50 years, the uses cases and benefits of standards adoption have extended far beyond retail.
Ecommerce and social media continue to be the priority channels for new members. The top ten companies that members stated they were joining to trade with are all online platforms:
Understanding our members
Maintaining an open dialogue with our membership, looking for opportunities to improve our support and understanding their day-to-day challenges is crucial for driving engagement and wider adoption of GS1 standards. Based on this approach we know that the top priorities for our members currently include:
While our current offering has served our members well, member feedback, team consultation and industry analysis have identified numerous opportunities to be more relevant and offer greater value.
Based on these insights, we have developed a new proposition that will transform the way we engage with our members
and deliver sustainable growth. By taking an insight led approach, we have developed a logical structure to demonstrate
the value of membership with simplified pricing and improved experiences. We have also identified a roadmap for future enhancements to ensure we continue to adapt.
Supporting our members
Supporting members at every step of their journey, whether it be establishing their brand, growing their business or implementing our standards, will always be a top priority for GS1 UK.
From our dedicated support team and personalised training courses to the latest industry news and insights, we offer a variety of ways to help you succeed.
Over the past year, our team has managed:
Raising our voice and visibility
As we continue to raise awareness of how standards have the power to change the way people work and live, our new campaign-led approach has shone a spotlight on our work. Highlights from the past year include:
of the barcode
50 years ago, on 3 April 1973, the GS1 barcode was created, forever changing the way we shop. From powering global supply chains and digitalisation, to ecommerce, keeping people safe and helping save the planet… it has become the beeping heart of so much with over 10 billion scans a day. To celebrate this major milestone, we looked back to tell the story of the barcode’s development, its adoption by industry, and the many ways it has been shaping the way we work and live ever since.
Over the past year, we have been working with the Health Service Journal, healthcare reporters at national outlets such as the Guardian and Daily Telegraph, as well as a variety of other healthcare titles to highlight the many ways GS1 standards can support the NHS in the delivery of better, safer and more efficient patient care. By combining our own insights with case studies and success stories we have been working hard to bring the role and impact of GS1 standards in healthcare to life.
deposit return schemes
At GS1 UK, we’re in a unique position to provide insight on, and support the delivery of, a robust and efficient DRS in the UK. GS1 standards are already used in DRS systems across the world and we are actively supporting the development of a data model which supports product attribution in the context of EPR. That is why we have continued to raise awareness of the issues facing successful implementation in the UK by providing expert commentary and thought leadership to media while engaging with key stakeholders across government and industry.
pieces across national, regional, trade and broadcast media
Team of the year
GS1 UK won team of the year and was highly commended in three other categories at the Memcom Excellence Awards this year.
The award was given in recognition of our transformational three-year strategy and how this has delivered sustainable growth to support members, UK plc and wider society.
Our award-winning submission demonstrated how this has united the business with a reinvigorated purpose, new brand position and values developed as a result of member feedback.
It is a great honour to be acknowledged by our peers in the membership community. As well as winning team of the year, GS1 UK was also highly commended for:
Best use of data,
AI or insight –
Since launching in March 2022, our AI powered chatbot has handled more than 27,000 chats, engaged with over 20,000 users and dealt with 33 per cent of enquiries outside of core office hours.
Best in person event of the year - GS1 UK Healthcare Conference
Our biggest conference to date featured more than 70 speakers across three stages who explored the key themes of patient safety, digital transformation and the significant potential of GS1 standards in shaping the future of care.
on a shoestring
Launched to inform both industry and consumers of the new High Fat Salt and Sugar (HFSS) legislation, our HFSS campaign secured over 100 pieces of media coverage and drove a significant increase in the use of our productDNA for HFSS solution.
Building a strong, cohesive, and motivated workforce has been at the heart of our people strategy. Our focus has been to develop a culture where staff feel engaged, empowered and accountable while ensuring we have the right skills and competencies to support the business and our members. Our employee engagement surveys have enabled us to listen to our people and identify areas of success and improvement, with scores that reflect an inclusive and supportive environment where feedback is acted on and people feel valued.
We have delivered a new learning strategy and a range of key learning initiatives. We are taking further steps to evolve our culture and working practices so that learning and growth is part of our everyday way of working. With this in mind, we have committed to developing a full learning and development programme that covers our values and behaviours, leadership, management, performance and development.
QR codes powered by GS1: the future of retail
This year, to help industry meet the data demands of today and prepare for those of tomorrow, GS1 in the UK and around the world began preparing for a global transition to QR codes powered by GS1.
Consumers are increasingly demanding more information about the products they buy, and businesses are becoming overwhelmed by new legislative demands as well as the sheer volume of data that comes from multiple sources in different formats. This means that barcodes need to start working harder.
QR codes powered by GS1 have been developed in collaboration with industry to enable brands, retailers and stakeholders throughout the supply chain to meet these demands. They extend the power and flexibility of GS1 identifiers such as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) by making them part of the web.
These next generation barcodes can hold far more data than their linear predecessors and allow everything, from smartphones to POS scanners, to easily obtain information about a product.
This means that GS1 standards, already used by 90 per cent of UK brands and retailers, can now act as a gateway to dynamic online content to boost revenue, strengthen brand loyalty, improve supply chain traceability information, connect to business partner APIs and drive sustainability agendas.
Powering the future of retail
On Thursday 23 February, we hosted our first industry event dedicated to QR codes powered by GS1. This gathering of experts from across industry provided members and partners with a unique opportunity to discover how and why QR codes powered by GS1 are shaping the future of retail, and how businesses can benefit from this new technology through the adoption of GS1 Digital Link.
To support our launch of QR codes powered by GS1, we recently
announced the launch of new pilot programme in collaboration with our partners at Orca Scan.
We are now actively seeking pioneering brands to help test, develop and refine use cases and inform our approach to supporting wider adoption.
QR codes powered by GS1 in action
The following case studies are examples of how a number of GS1 UK members are already harnessing the power of smart QR codes and the many benefits seen by these early adopters.
Our work with industry
We are committed in helping businesses and organisations across the UK harness the power of standards to create a safer, more informed, and sustainable world. We have been actively collaborating with experts, leaders and decision makers across all our sectors to help our members adapt and thrive in the face of shifting dynamics, legislative change and consumer demand.
Shaping the future of retail
Over the past year, we have harnessed the power of our membership to shape the future of retail. Close collaboration with members and partners has been instrumental in informing our approach to supporting the development and future implementation of these next generation barcodes.
We have launched and facilitated several successful user groups, gaining invaluable insights from retailers and brands that have strengthened our understanding of their business and consumer demands and how our services and standards can better meet their needs.
Since 2020 our role as trusted advisors on the application of standards to address operational challenges presented by deposit return schemes has been established with key stakeholders across industry.
We have strengthened our position, holding 1:1 meetings with senior civil servants and MPs who now appreciate how GS1 standards could power effective schemes, supporting member queries and leading DRS knowledge exchange on an EU level.
We have facilitated well attended user groups and webinars with major retailers and drinks manufacturers, collaborating to solve common issues such as labelling requirements for multipacks and the impact of on wine importers.
Despite Scotland’s scheme being paused to align with a UK wide approach, our team has maintained an integral presence in conversations with DEFRA and the DRS industry forum. We will also play a proactive role in the DMO working group to ensure the needs of our members, wider industry and consumers influence the direction of travel.
Navigating stormy waters
and stepping into the future
It really is amazing what has been achieved by the scanning of a simple barcode.
In the last year GS1, your organisation, has come to the attention of millions more people as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the humble barcode. More people have learnt how collaboration has enabled that symbol to become omnipresent and transform billions of lives and millions of businesses across the globe. With this major programme of communication, far fewer people are asking the question GS “WHO “?
In other respects, the last year has been a challenging one for our members and consumers generally. As major disruption to global supply chains and global warming continue to impact both the cost of living and the cost of doing business, GS1 UK members across many sectors are facing unprecedented issues. There has also been a growing need to address current and future legislative and regulatory change,
especially on the topics of sustainability, safety and health.
Businesses across the four nations need access to trusted data now more than ever and GS1 UK is playing a key part in achieving this, especially through facilitating collaboration and informed decision making.
To better support our members, industry and wider society, we are striving to ensure that our organisation is evolving in line with their needs. In the past 12 months, we have stepped into the future as we prepare for the transition to 2D barcodes (QR codes). Over the next few years, this will give many organisations the ability to communicate far more information than ever before to consumers and customers.
This past year has also seen GS1 UK make significant steps into the field of construction where the many benefits of identification and traceability are so clearly needed following the disasters of recent years.
Externally, the knowledge we have continues to be recognised by regulators and legislators as we are asked to play key roles in major government policies such as the Food Data Transparency Partnership, Deposit Return Schemes, Extended Producer Responsibility initiatives and Digital Product Passports.
Internally, we have made a strong start on a number of new programmes, laying solid foundations for enhanced core systems that will eventually replace those that have provided many of the services members have relied on for the last 20 plus years, as well as providing the basis for the services that will surely be needed by the membership in future years. All this has been achieved without increasing costs to members as we end a fifth year of no fee increases.
In order to achieve and build on these successes, should be we continue to strengthen and diversify our team and staff, executive and supervisory board level, as well as investing in their
development and wellbeing.
The insights and guidance provided by the supervisory board are at the very heart of our strategy. They allow us to keep a finger on the pulse of industry, ensuring that the trends and issues shaping the future of UK plc inform the many ways in which we inform the many ways in which we harness the power of standards to keep people informed and protected.
Chris Tyas OBE
Chair, GS1 UK