GS1 US Releases Guidelines To Help Accelerate 2D Barcode Adoption in Healthcare, Apparel and General Merchandise Industries

EWING, NJ – February 7, 2024 – GS1 US has unveiled two new guidelines to help industry transition to more-advanced two-dimensional (2D) barcodes on product packaging in the U.S. healthcare, apparel and general merchandise sectors. This industry guidance for implementing 2D barcodes, such as QR codes and GS1 DataMatrix, will enhance supply chain visibility, efficiency and patient and consumer safety.

The guideline “Unlocking the Benefits of 2D Barcodes in Apparel and General Merchandise: Getting Brands and Retailers Ready for Sunrise 2027” was produced by a GS1 US Workgroup comprising retailers, brands and solution providers in the apparel and general merchandise industries. This guideline provides stakeholders with practical advice for implementing 2D barcodes by 2027, a timeline set by the retail industry in collaboration with GS1 US to scan 2D barcodes at point-of-sale (POS). The resource explains how 2D barcodes can be used to provide improved product information, traceability, authentication and streamlined checkout and returns while showcasing use cases to illustrate the benefits.

“As technology and consumer expectations for more information about products evolve, the demand for enhanced product information goes beyond the traditional role of UPC barcodes,” said Melanie Nuce-Hilton, senior vice president, community engagement, GS1 US. “While some apparel and general merchandise brands already utilize 2D barcodes with GS1 Digital Link for consumer engagement, there is a pressing need to extend this capability to POS to allow for a single standardized way to meet supply chain needs and consumer requirements.”

The additional guideline, “Unlocking Benefits of GS1 DataMatrix in Non-Retail Healthcare,” is designed to assist non-retail healthcare stakeholders in implementing GS1 DataMatrix 2D barcodes in non-retail channels, such as hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, infusion centers, long-term care facilities and ambulances.

“As healthcare products are sold in both retail and non-retail environments, a coordinated approach to 2D barcodes ensures labeling consistency and efficiency for brand owners,” added Nuce-Hilton. “GS1 DataMatrix is already being adopted across healthcare to comply with regulation; to avoid confusion and align on a single barcode, GS1 DataMatrix is recommended by industry as a preferred data carrier for healthcare products across both areas."

Key benefits of GS1 DataMatrix include efficient recall management, improved inventory management, enhanced traceability and support for electronic health records. This additional document also intends to provide information to support considerations for both labelers and their downstream supply chain trading partners regarding capabilities, possible data needs, print and scanning technologies and the consumption of data.

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About GS1 US 
GS1 US® enables companies to power their supply chains to deliver safe, consistent, authentic, and trusted experiences. Best known as a source for UPC barcodes, GS1 is a not-for-profit, global data standards organization that creates a common language for companies to identify, capture, and share trusted data that links their physical and digital supply chains. Millions of businesses around the world power commerce with GS1 Standards. Learn more at

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