GS1 is an international, neutral, not-for-profit organisation based in Brussels, Belgium with 111 member organisations worldwide. GS1 facilitates collaboration amongst trading partners, organisations and technology providers, in order to solve business challenges that leverage standards and to ensure visibility along the entire supply chain. GS1 develops the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world serving close to two million companies doing business across 150 countries in multiple sectors and industries.
The GS1 System of Standards allows companies all around the world to globally and uniquely identify their physical things like products and services, assets, logistic units, shipments, and physical locations and logical things like a corporation or a service relationship between provider and recipient. When this powerful identification system is combined with GS1 Barcodes, EPC tags, eCommerce business messages, and the Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN), the connection is made between these physical or logical things and the information the supply chain needs about them. With the connection made, one world of global commerce comes into view.
Our 40th Anniversary2013 marks the 40th anniversary year of GS1. On April 3rd 1973, the United States grocery industry came together to select the linear barcode as their industry standard for product identification known today as the GS1 barcode.
This led to the establishment of the organisation UCC (Uniform Code Council) in 1974 administering the Universal Product Code (UPC) numbering system in the USA. Three years later, 12 European members founded European Article Numbering Association (EAN) in Belgium. The EAN would become known for developing a barcode fully compatible with the UPC. These organizations would later come together to form GS1.
Product identification stands for more than marking goods and scanning them: it made a global market possible. On June 26, 1974, at 8:01 a.m., the first GS1 barcode was scanned for the very first time in Troy, Ohio. Sharon Buchanan, the woman who operated the scanner could have said something like "This is one small scan for a (wo)man but one giant leap for mankind". Well, she didn't but let's not blame her for that. It was easier for Neil Armstrong to understand that walking on the moon was something extraordinary than for Sharon Buchanan, who scanned the first barcode to measure the importance of this first scan. How could she even imagine that, forty years later, over 5 billion products would be scanned every day, all over the world?
This makes the establishment of GS1 even more remarkable; persuading millions of potential users of the forceful advantages of using global identification and information sharing systems. An adventure that is still ongoing...
Today, the Global Language of Business is one that serves not only the industry, but each and every consumer around the world. From traceability to automatic restocking of store shelves to faster and more efficient export and import, GS1 standards have made a hyper-efficient supply chain possible. And as trade is going everyday more global, broader use of GS1 standards will be required. This is why GS1 keeps providing new standards and solutions to an increasing number of sectors. The pioneering spirit is still alive in the GS1 community! A long journey is ahead of us: maybe not to the moon but who knows how far we can go?The 40th anniversary of GS1 is nothing less than the consecration of a great ambition: create, establish, develop and spread the GS1 standards as the Global Language of Business worldwide.