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GS1 CEO calls on retailers to adopt QR codes to build trust

By Park Han-na

Published : Sept. 6, 2023 - 17:42

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GS1 CEO Renaud de Barbuat speaks during a meeting with Korean business leaders at the Korean Retail and Logistics Industry CEO Forum hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday. (KCCI) GS1 CEO Renaud de Barbuat speaks during a meeting with Korean business leaders at the Korean Retail and Logistics Industry CEO Forum hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday. (KCCI)

GS1, a nongovernmental organization based in Belgium that manages the bar codes scanned over 6 billion times daily across the globe, is set to unlock the future of the global retail industry with next-generation bar codes by supporting companies and consumers to access abundant trusted product data.

GS1 CEO Renaud de Barbuat called on Korean business leaders in the retail and logistics industries to take a leap towards the digital transformation by replacing the bar codes they are using with two-dimensional QR codes powered by GS1, during the Korean Retail and Logistics Industry CEO Forum hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday.

“Our ambition is to serve this digital transformation by helping companies to more easily manage and exchange trusted data from the most upstream part of the supply chain up to consumers and patients,” Barbuat said during the event.

GS1, which counts about 2 million firms across 116 countries as members, is marking the 50th anniversary of the GS1 bar code, which was created to transform grocery shopping and empower more reliable and resilient supply chains.

GS1 aims for QR codes to be used globally, together with existing bar codes, in retail stores by the end of 2027.

Calling the next generation bar codes a "marriage between GS1 standards and the web technologies," the CEO said that it opened many new opportunities for industries to create value.

"It improves the consumer experience in e-commerce by offering more information about products, increases consumer trust through product transparency while enhanced traceability enables more automation across the supply chain with data," he said.

Unlike existing one-dimensional bar codes, GS1 QR codes enable the digitization of product data by allowing the input of various additional data, such as the expiration date and manufacturing location.

“Having access to trusted product data and providing them to consumers will become crucial tool for the retail industry,” the GS1 CEO said.

Most bar codes provide a very limited amount of information. Traditional bar codes are typically scanned by companies and organizations to access supply chain information for business systems.

The next-generation bar codes can include a product’s batch or lot number, serial number, expiration date and more. With access to that data, business partners up and down the supply chain can "boost transparency, improve inventory management, enable traceability and sustainability initiatives, reduce waste and simplify recall and return processes," according to the GS1 CEO.

For example, the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Development Corporation, the producer of Samdasoo, the nation's top bottled water brand, plans to launch a label-free bottle product with an imprinted GS1 QR code on the lid this month. The QR code will contain mandatory labeling requirements and a product identification code that enables checkout in stores. The move aligns with the government’s mandate to boost plastic bottle recyclability by eradicating labels on plastic bottles.

The QR code powered by GS1 also allows consumers and shoppers to use their smartphones to connect directly to the brand to enhance consumer engagement. With limitless, brand-authorized content at their fingertips, consumers can have access to real-time information like allergens, recipes, rewards and promotions.

During the meeting, Chang Keun-moo, GS1 Korea's director, stressed the need to adopt a global standard like GS1's QR codes in order for the retail industry to embrace digitization.

"Digital transformation that retail and logistics companies are faced with cannot be achieved only with efforts made by individual firms. Cooperation with business partners is essential,” he said.