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May 29, 2017


Which industries use GS1 barcodes?

by Marko Vrbnjak

The invention of barcodes and implementation of the GS1 standards lead many industries to undergo a positive transformation. Reduced costs, increased efficiency and improved inventory management are just a few of the perks. Although barcodes are available in many industries: retail, healthcare, transport and logistics, and food are the main four.

Let’s take a look at how the supply chains of these industries are affected.


Barcodes in retail is perhaps the one use we are most familiar with, since we encounter product scanning at supermarkets or shops almost daily. With the development of technology, the shopping experience has expanded to multiple channels (offline, online desktop, mobile) which puts more importance on GS1 barcodes for systematic structure. A consistent and seamless shopping experience can be established through a standardised and efficient integration of offline and online stores, inventories and delivery channels.


The global healthcare supply chain is highly complicated and sensitive. It involves complex relationships among parties like manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, group purchasing organisations and healthcare providers. The industry’s two main priorities are increasing supply chain efficiency, and more importantly, ensuring patient safety. This can only be done through an automated global system that connects parties with a common language.

Some benefits of GS1 standards in healthcare include traceability and authenticity of medical products and drugs, delivery of the right drugs to the right patients, and overall a better and more accurate flow of information through the supply chain. Something as simple as a barcode can save lives and a great amount of money. The UK’s NHS estimates that barcode technology could save £2.7 billion sterling a year, enough for 21 new hospitals.

Transport and Logistics

Imagine you were a wholesaler and did not know when your supplier’s shipments would arrive. How would this affect your business planning? Could you even make a plan? How would you estimate the arrival time, operator’s pick up schedule, or what container or shelf to use for the items? These are only some of the questions to consider. Without proper tracking there would be chaos.

GS1 barcodes let manufacturers, retailers and the logistics service providers record and track all the information items at any time. Businesses can know when the shipment is due, where they are coming from, and where they will be delivered. This allows them to make arrangements for their operations and sales functions, leading to better business planning and efficiency.


Food service is a massive, dynamic and ever-growing industry which is dependent on constant, accurate communication between trading partners in the supply chain. The industry is intensely dependent on inventory and distribution tracking. This can be best done by implementing barcodes that automate systematic processes. Barcodes allow identification of food items, and movement and stock tracking between parties. They also ensure food safety and create opportunities to grow businesses.

Are you in any of the industries mentioned above? Tell us about your experience with barcodes!

You can find out all about the GS1 system, how to create barcodes correctly and how to verify them in The GS1 Handbook – How To Barcode Your Product  and read more on other barcode related tips here.