Understanding the New GS1 Requirement: Unlocking Product Connectivity with Data-Rich 2D Codes, pt. 1

shopper and barcode

The world changes: the barcode is evolving, and Thermal Transfer remains steady.  

The barcode turned 50 years old in 2023. This technology makes manufacturing, shipping, and selling of goods possible. It provides static data by lines that comprise the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). Everything we touch relies on this technology, but by 2027 that will have to change.

How will this new standard affect your business? This article is part of a series to guide you through this change easily by providing the information you will need to know along the way.

From barcode to GS1 Digital Link

GS1 is a non-profit, international organization that standardized and manages the barcode system and the exchange protocols. The traditional linear barcode technology is limited by the data it conveys and the need for a suitable barcode reader. GS1’s goal, simply put, is to change to a data-rich code using a QR Code.

The need to link physical products to the digital world is clearer today than ever. QR codes are everywhere, from magazines to restaurant menus to shelf signs at the grocery store. The GS1 Digital Link is a game-changing solution that empowers businesses to connect products to a data-rich digital world. If you are already using Thermal Transfer to print barcodes or identification and traceability data, then you are all set.

Understanding GS1 Digital Link

At its core, the GS1 Digital Link is a standardized web URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), which acts as a link between physical products and the digital world. The Digital Link is a code, commonly represented as a QR code or Data Matrix, which enables users (industrials, supply chains, retailers, consumers, etc.) to access a wealth of product-specific data through a barcode scanner, smartphones, or internet-connected devices. By using a single code, businesses and consumers gain seamless access to a broad range of valuable information, including product origin, manufacturing details, ingredients, environmental impact, usage instructions, and even customer reviews.

Icons explaining the usage of GS1 technology

What you need to know right now

ARMOR-IIMAK is a Gold Partner of the GS1 working group together with manufacturers of thermal transfer printers, POS scanners, grocery and retail chains, supply chain specialists, and other manufacturers to help every industry be ready for the change. In many cases, linear barcodes and QR Codes are already printed with Thermal Transfer technology, so your company can have peace of mind that your printing is already compliant with the coming GS1 standard.

In the upcoming articles in this series, we will discuss the benefits and applications of GS1’s Digital Link as well as how Thermal Transfer printing meets the challenges of GS1.

Thermal Transfer and the new GS1 Digital Link

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