Standards in Use in Apparel and General Merchandise

Providing the foundation for efficient supply chain management


For more than 40 years, the GS1 System of Standards has revolutionized efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness in a broad range of industries—including apparel and general merchandise. GS1 Standards provide a “common language” that trading partners use to identify items at any point along the value chain.

GS1 Standards are like the DNA of items and products moving through their value chain. By uniquely identifying each, it’s possible to link items and products with relevant information.

Here’s an overview of how GS1 Standards play an important role:

For Identification

GS1 Identify Info

GS1 Standards begin with GS1 Identification Numbers used to uniquely distinguish all products (trade items), logistic units, locations, assets, and relationships across the supply chain from manufacturer to consumer. Read the GTIN Adoption and Usage Model– an Implementation Roadmap for the U.S. Retail Supply Chain.

  • Products
    • Identify your products, inner packs, cases, and pallets with Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs)
    • By assigning a GTIN® plus a unique serial number to every instance of a trade item, two otherwise identical units can be traced individually as they move through the value chain. You can also use EPC®-enabled RFID tags to uniquely identify products at the item level: EPC or SGTIN
  • Locations (such as place of delivery, point of storage, or store location) to improve communication within your value chain: Global Location Numbers (GLNs)
  • Logistics units, such as cases, cartons, pallets, or air cargo containers of trade items to track packages during all phases of delivery: Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCCs)

For Managing Shipments and Inventory

GS1 Capture Info

Data encoded in GS1 Data Carriers uniquely identify products (and units of product) and help improve inventory accuracy.

  • EAN/UPC* barcodes: These barcodes identify a product or batches of products. They carry a GTIN and are used at checkout. Carrying varying amount of data, they can also accommodate other needs, such as identifying expiration date or batch and lot number
  • EPC-enabled RFID tags: These tags help trace individual products and can carry richer product-related information. That includes location, country of origin, production date, materials used, handling process, the company that placed the product onto the market, the batch number, and the product number in that batch. They can also carry valuable traceability information, and identify which pallets arrived first and which products are approaching their sell-by dates. With information stored on the embedded memory of the RFID tag, it can be retrieved at any point or place in the value chain. Visit our Resource Library to view all item level RFID resources

For Sharing Information

GS1 Sharing Info

With GS1 Standards as the common language of business, trading partners can seamlessly share information to support data synchronization, as well as the exchange of transactional and physical event data about products moving through the supply chain.

  • Enhanced consumer engagement, efficiencies, and safety: GS1 Digital Link helps barcodes and other data carriers become web links – connecting a product’s unique identity to online sources of real-time information that brands control. Brands can speak directly to consumers through a single, smarter barcode on their packaging and retailers can improve efficiency and safety with access to accurate product data and enhanced traceability.
  • Master data: The Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN®) enables immediate electronic sharing of standardized, up-to-date, accurate information—from GTINs and brand owner identification to product descriptions and classification
  • Transactional data: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) enables computer-to-computer exchange of business documents among companies. With a standard format regardless of each company’s computer or software, EDI “bridges the gap” between companies and systems. By using standardized business messages, EDI empowers trading partners to communicate in a common language, and helps companies conduct electronic commerce more accurately and efficiently. Visit our Resource Library to view all product image and data attribute resources or logistics resources
  • Physical event data: The Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) is a GS1 Standard for capturing and sharing information about the movement and status of goods in the physical world. EPCIS enables the capture of event data about products, logistics units, returnable assets, and other objects moving through the value chain, as well as sharing of event data with internal systems and trading partners

That’s just the beginning

For a deeper understanding of how GS1 Standards actively support your product’s value chain—optimizing efficiencies, improving inventory management, and enhancing the customer experience—view our short video or read our brochure.

Download the GS1 Standards booklet for Apparel and General Merchandise PDF (1.3 KB) >

apparel rack  
In this publication, the letters “U.P.C.” are used solely as an abbreviation for the “Universal Product Code”, which is a product identification system. They do not refer to the UPC, which is a federally registered certification mark of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) to certify compliance with a Uniform Plumbing Code as authorized by IAPMO.