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Redefine the customer experience: The GS1 Digital Link and its possibilities

Connecting digital and analogue world: The GS1 Digital Link offers completely new possibilities. But what exactly is behind it and how does it differ from previous technology?

The GS1 Digital Link is an upgrade of existing barcode technologies, giving companies and customers completely new possibilities at the point of sale. The most important thing is probably the link between the online and offline worlds: for the first time, it is now possible to scan products with a smartphone or other Internet-enabled end device and link them to individual online presences.

Barcodes on products have experienced a real success story since their introduction in 1974 by the American chewing gum manufacturer Wrigleys. Today, it is impossible to imagine the supermarket without barcode technology. Accordingly, you will hardly find any products without corresponding markings.

Barcodes are to be distinguished from QR codes. Up to now, barcodes or barcodes have mainly been used for pure product identification. If the corresponding article is scanned at the cash register, it is automatically added to the invoice and deducted from the inventory. QR codes, on the other hand, have the advantage that a larger amount of information can be stored. While barcodes only represent a combination of numbers, QR codes can refer to a website with a lot more information.

GS1 Digital Link the future!

The GS1 Digital Link now offers the possibility to combine the advantages of both technologies and to use them optimally. Unlike QR Codes, which are automatically recognized by many smartphone cameras, it is not possible to scan barcodes without a special app. To get around this and provide consumers with more information, many companies use QR codes. Here, each manufacturer goes his own way and developed the corresponding codes on his own initiative. Consumer understanding and acceptance sometimes suffer because expectations are disappointed time and again. With the new solution, however, it is now possible to create an individual digital identity for each product, which is managed by GS1 as a standard. Like the barcodes, GS1 issues the QR codes centrally and integrates them into the worldwide database. Companies can decide whether they want to display their own content to the customer or alternatively provide the corresponding data via the GS1 cloud. The GS1 Cloud is a proprietary, international database that trustfully stores all product information.

Here, manufacturers and retailers are allowed to be creative: With additional technologies, the displayed information can be adapted to the given circumstances in real time. For example, customers who scan the product in the city centre at 8:00 a.m. in the morning can be shown different information than consumers who want to find out about the product in the evening in a suburb.

The possible applications are manifold: In the food industry, for example, the most precise data from the production process or exact nutritional information can be displayed with just one scan. In today's world, where consumers are paying more attention to fair production and working conditions and new nutritional trends are constantly making the rounds, the GS1 Digital Link is the perfect way to provide the customer with all relevant, product-specific information within seconds. It is also possible to link to other services or information concerning the product. For example, if the customer is interested in the first part of a multi-part film series, he can be shown the sequels directly, if necessary in combination with special discount offers on site. Digital marketing at the most important points of the Customer Journey.

This offers the customer a completely new experience at the point of sale. All kinds of information can be called up within seconds, which above all significantly increases confidence in the company. In addition to information on origin, other sales-promoting measures such as individual discount campaigns or forwarding to related products are also conceivable. These are just two of an almost infinite number of examples. There are almost no limits to the possible applications.

Also advantageous: The GS1 Digital Link works with all standard GS1 data carriers. Companies are therefore not forced to switch to new technologies. Instead, they can conveniently retain their existing data carriers. The basis for this is the so-called Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), which makes the existing codes available online.

A look into the future makes it clear: The classic barcode will lose its raison d'être. The additional possibilities that new technologies now offer are too large and extensive. New cash register systems can already scan QR Codes, but it is only a matter of time before they are used throughout the country.