The Power of the Prefix

The GS1 Company Prefix can do more than just help you create UPC barcodes.

As your brand grows and your products start selling, the same prefix you used to create barcodes can power your supply chain in several other ways. It can be a valuable asset as you grow and is one of the key benefits of GS1 US® membership.

A licensed GS1 Company Prefix is a number that is unique to each member of GS1 US and identifies you as the owner of the brand. Think of it as a building block for creating various identification numbers that are needed throughout the supply chain.

The Power of a GS1 Company Prefix

By having a GS1 Company Prefix, you hold the power to create a Global Trade Item Number® (GTIN®)-12, GTIN-14, Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC), and a Global Location Number (GLN).


Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)-12

Numbers that identify your products

GTINs (often referred to as UPCs) are embedded in a UPC barcode and globally identify your product, allowing retailers and marketplaces to properly catalog billions of items for sale. This is the most well-known GS1 Standard. Aside from being a key part of an item going “beep” at checkout, adding GTINs sourced from GS1 to product listings online has SEO benefits and can help your product get noticed.

While the product GTIN incentivizes GS1 membership for most businesses, members licensing a GS1 Company Prefix have the ability to create other GS1 identifiers that will become more and more valuable as you grow.



Numbers that identify cases of your products

GTIN-14s identify trade item packaging levels. Let’s imagine you are in the yogurt business. A GTIN-12 would identify a single cup of yogurt and a GTIN-14 identifies a case of yogurt. It becomes machine readable when embedded into an ITF-14 barcode or a GS1-128 barcode, i.e. the longer barcodes you are accustomed to seeing on cardboard boxes or labels on those boxes.


Serial Shipping Container Code  

Numbers that identify pallets and logistic units

The SSCC is a serialized identifier that can be assigned to a logistics unit. This number would identify an entire pallet of yogurt in our example. When it teams up with electronic communications that are specific to retail, such as Advance Ship Notices, the SSCC helps recipients understand what is being shipped their way. Even the smallest, 10-capacity prefix can generate over 1 million unique SSCCs. Larger prefixes can generate billions!  


Global Location Numbers (GLNs)

Numbers for company locations such as stores and distribution centers

The ability to assign GLNs to locations is also included when you license a GS1 Company Prefix.  The GLN is used to identify a location or a legal entity and helps you track and trace a product. Just like a GTIN, a GLN is a globally unique number and accepted widely across the supply chain. GS1 Company Prefix holders can generate the same quantity of GLNs as GTINs, meaning if you license a 100-capacity prefix you can generate 100 GTINs and 100 GLNs.

Prepare for Growth and Success

Only by licensing a GS1 Company Prefix from GS1 can you be assured that your numbers are truly unique, are registered only to your company, and can be shared across trading partners.

  • Ensure the right product is delivered to the right place at the right time.
  • Trace products to help meet regulatory requirements and support consumer safety.
  • Expand your business by using globally accepted identification numbers.

Supporting Consumer Demand and Regulatory Requirements

A GS1 Company Prefix also helps support new consumer demands for supply chain transparency. It helps companies construct identification numbers to track and trace products around the world.

With heightened concern for transparency, the product data exchanged between businesses needs to be more detailed and extend beyond just the GTIN. GS1® maintains an entire system of standards using the GS1 Company Prefix as a foundation. This system serves as a uniform structure to share extended product details so that data is streamlined and accepted by all trading partner systems.

All GS1 US members have access to GS1 US Data Hub®, a tool that not only helps users assign GTINs and create barcodes but also provides a way to securely store product and location data to be shared with trading partners. This helps brands to create essential programs such as product traceability programs, which help them disclose product origins and support recall readiness, especially in industries like food and healthcare, which are subject to certain regulatory requirements.

Recommended Resources

Here are additional resources that might interest you:

Small Business Spotlight: JAM Paper & Envelope

Small Business Spotlight: JAM Paper & Envelope

JAM Paper & Envelope CEO provides insight into the power of GS1 barcodes for e-commerce success

GS1 US at SXSW: Tips to Optimize Your Supply Chain

GS1 US at SXSW: Tips to Optimize Your Supply Chain

Experts share ways for small businesses to create more-resilient supply chains