QR codes powered by GS1 – The second barcode revolution

Category: Brands

It was fifty years ago today, at a few minutes past 8am on the 26th of June 1974, that the first barcode was scanned at Marsh Supermarket in Troy in Miami County, Ohio. Now QR Codes powered by GS1 are set to explode onto supermarket shelves.

Since its inception in the 1970s, millions of retailers, brands and manufacturers have collaborated with GS1 to harness the power of the iconic barcode. Today, GS1 is again uniting businesses around the world to prepare for the second barcode revolution – the transition to QR codes powered by GS1.

The companies that have joined forces with GS1 are a combination of leading brand owners, retailers, manufacturers, SMEs and marketplaces with a combined market value of over $1.5 trillion USD. These companies operate in over 160 countries and reach billions of consumers worldwide – paving the way for global adoption.

From consumers and regulators to brand owners and retailers, everyone wants to know more about the products they buy, sell or consume. However, space on-pack is finite, meaning there will always be a limit to the amount of information physical labels can carry.

QR codes powered by GS1

QR codes powered by GS1 have been identified by industry as the solution to this problem, allowing businesses to connect their products’ unique identity to multiple online sources of enriched, real-time content. They can be scanned by smartphones, and at the point of sale, enabling capabilities far beyond what a standard barcode can offer today.

With almost 98 per cent of all UK adults now owning a smartphone, this has the potential to transform the way businesses share information, ushering in a new era of supply chain efficiency, transparency and enhanced consumer experiences.

QR codes powered by GS1 are now being tested in 48 countries, representing 88% of the world’s GDP. Globally, GS1 aims to ensure a comprehensive rollout by 2027 and many leading household brands including PepsiCo, Walmart, P&G, Loreal and Amazon are already onboard.  

Here in the UK, GS1 UK has completed a pilot programme with over 50 brands and is now working with its wider membership to accelerate adoption. We are collaborating with leading UK retailers, including Tesco, to prepare for point-of-sale scanning.

We are pleased to be collaborating with GS1 to explore the potential benefits for customers and for our business from QR codes.

We know our customers want the opportunity to access detailed product information instantly via their smartphone and we are also always looking for solutions for reducing waste and tracking products more effectively throughout our supply chain. QR codes powered by GS1 will help us meet these challenges and we are already taking steps to prepare for the transition.

– Matt Rhind, Supply Chain & Development Director, Tesco

In today’s hyper-connected world, barcodes need to start working harder. We look forward to building on the five decades of cross-industry collaboration to make this vision for the future a reality.

There is still much to be done but, with the backing of our members, partners and our global community, QR codes powered by GS1 can deliver new, more powerful ways working that promise to be just as transformational – if not more so – than that first barcode scan 50 years ago.

– Anne Godfrey, CEO, GS1 UK

Webinar Programme

GS1 UK are currently running a dedicated webinar programme to help its members unlock the many benefits of QR codes powered by GS1 and invites brands and retailers of all sizes to join this groundbreaking collaborative effort.

Upcoming webinars include:

  • Tuesday 2 July 2024, 11:00am: Efficiency, visibility and safety: improve your supply chain using QR codes powered by GS1
  • Tuesday 16 July 2024, 11:00am: How to reduce your environmental impact using QR codes powered by GS1
  • Tuesday 10 September 2024, 11:00am: How to get started with QR codes powered by GS1
  • Tuesday 24 September 2024, 11:00am: From labels to links: navigating regulations with QR codes powered by GS1
  • Tuesday 8 October 2024, 11:00am: Leave no consumer behind: QR codes powered by GS1 as an accessibility tool

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


French and Italian Packaging laws

French and Italian Packaging laws


GS1 DIT “Made in the UK, Sold to the World”


Free Trademark search tool from Pulse Law & GS1 UK partnership


Consumer trust and transparency, enabled by identity


How HFSS legislation impacts online retailers

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


Take a look through a selection of the latest articles on ChannelX

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars