GS1 Digital Link “web-enables” barcodes by providing a simple, standards-based structure for encoded data in any 2D line-of-sight data carrier. This helps enable brands to meet consumer needs for more context-based experiences. Given that GS1 Digital Link is a standards-based structure, it allows the use of simple rules so apps, websites, and POS scanners can enable connections, shopping experiences, interesting product content, and more.

What does Digital Link offer your brand?

Digital Link makes it possible to web-enable all your products. It offers:

  • Ability to help provide consumers enhanced content and experiences, such as detailed ingredient or allergen information, hints and tips for product use, and recommendations for related offerings
  • Decrease the complexity – and overhead – of multiple labels or codes on a single product or package
  • A single identifier to ensure authenticity more easily and to track a product from point of manufacture to the consumer’s purchase
  • Improved business-to-business processes for data sharing to support a variety of capabilities – from streamlining recall management to automating price adjustments due to product expiration dates

How Digital Link works

Consumers scan a 2D data carrier, such as a QR code, with their smartphones. Retailers scan the same code at the point of sale. In either case, the web-enabled barcode directs the user to an intelligent product identity in the cloud. Based on that intelligent product identity, the consumer or retailer is directed to a variety of digital content and services to enhance experience or safety.

How can you get started with Digital Link?

Whether you use internal resources or engage a GS1 US Solution Provider, there are three core steps to implementing Digital Link.


Step 1: Create digital identifiers

Once you have determined which products are top priorities for Digital Link, create a digital identifier for each using the GS1 system of identification or a GTIN. Map the relevant GTIN, SKU-level, and/or serialized (item-level) identifiers to a corresponding digital identity constructed in the GS1 Digital Link syntax.


Step 2: Select a web-enabled data carrier and incorporate it on your products/packaging

The Digital Link standard is data carrier agnostic – enabling you to implement the carrier that works best for your use cases. For consumer engagement use cases, you will want to select a line-of-sight data carrier, such as a QR code or Data Matrix. Digital Link can also be used with NFC, RFID, or other non-line-of-sight carriers. In addition, you may have use cases where you want to combine these; Digital Link can support that approach, as well.


Step 3: Enhance experiences for consumers and retailers

This is your chance to bring your brand to life and foster customer loyalty by bridging your physical product with digital services and content. With one scan on a smartphone, a consumer can access different product-related experiences, such as more detailed product information, promotions, sustainability, frequently asked questions, and more. When retailers scan the barcode, they can be notified at the point of sale if a product has been recalled, has expired, or is counterfeit. Behind the scenes, they can better manage inventory and access critical product details, including safety manuals.