Global update: How the GS1 specifications have changed in 2024

The global supply chain never stands still – business needs are dynamic, and GS1 standards constantly evolve and adapt to the changes that businesses face globally. We thought we’d share what some of the changes to GS1 specifications have been in 2024 so far, and what these mean for New Zealand businesses.

Why do GS1 specifications change?

The environment that GS1 members operate in is dynamic, and so GS1 specifications are updated on a regular basis. To manage changes to specifications, GS1 has a global standards management process (GSMP), managed centrally by GS1 Global. These changes often result from requests made by GS1 members around the world, presented by their local GS1 Member Organisation, and prioritised through the GSMP. Over the years GS1 New Zealand has been involved in changes to the global specifications on behalf of members.

There are many reasons why the GS1 General Specifications change. For example, the rise of marketplace selling has increased the trading of ‘non-new’ or second-hand items – and so GS1 specifications have adapted to help make identifying secondhand items easier. The transition to 2D barcoding from traditional 1D barcoding has meant new rules have been required to manage this transition – and so the specifications have been updated in line with these changes. 

What has changed in 2024?

Most changes to the specifications are minor changes. However, here are two changes that may affect you:

  • Are you allocating barcode numbers to secondhand items? Barcode numbers (Global Trade Item Numbers, also referred to as GTINs) are usually allocated to new products before consumer use. But what if you are retailing items that are secondhand, for instance through an online marketplace? Provisions have been made in the GS1 specifications for how to identify non-new items. You can read more about these changes here. 
  • Are you transitioning to 2D barcodes? There is a global transition underway from traditional barcodes to 2D barcodes, aiming to have 2D barcodes scannable at retail point of sale by 2027. Through this transition period brand owners and retailers can opt to have both the recognisable 1D barcode, and a new 2D barcode on the same product. New guidance has been provided about how to do this so that the information carried by the multiple barcodes is consistent, and so that they remain scannable at point of sale. You can read more about these changes here.
  • Supporting you through the changes: Being aware of the changes is one thing, but if you think the changes apply to you, how do you go about adjusting your business practices to meet the new specifications? The GS1 NZ’s verification service is a key way in which we support Kiwi businesses to meet the general specifications. Sending your products in for verification is a great way of checking that the changes you make to your products are in line with the general specifications. Our support team is also ready to help and can talk the changes through with you.