New GS1 GTIN Management Standard Released

Simple and clear GTIN rules will save companies time and money – and set the foundation for omni-channel commerce

Date: June 30, 2016


The existing GS1 Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) Allocation Rules have been replaced by a new, simplified GTIN Management Standard – making it easier for the retail industry to manage GTINs.

Understand when a new GTIN is needed and when it is not

GTIN Management StandardFor over 40 years, businesses around the world have used GTINs to identify almost all retail products. Over time GS1 worked with industry to develop a set of allocation rules which helped brand owners decide when new GTINs should be applied to product variants – such as changes to ingredients or packaging. But these 46 rules became increasingly ambiguous and frustrating to use, and this resulted in a growing lack of industry compliance and unnecessary added costs.

The new GS1 GTIN Management Standard, developed with industry, addresses these issues. Organised around a set of clear principles and presented in an easy-to-understand format, the standard is simpler for businesses to comply with – and easier to share and explain.

At the heart of the new standard are 10 GTIN rules, simplified from the 46 former rules. A leading global food manufacturer, J.M. Smucker Company, recently applied the new GTIN management rules when evaluating the identification changes needed for 125 of its products.

"It made it easier to make clear decisions and communicate these decisions across the organisation – saving the company time and money.... Using the new rules, we completed the evaluation of all 125 products in minutes instead of days."

Lori Bigler, Director, Industry Standards at The J.M. Smucker Company

The clarity and consistency of the new standard is particularly critical to companies supporting new omni-channel commerce and the increasing range of channels that consumers use to shop. And it also provides the retail industry with the building blocks needed for future discussions on how to identify products with minor product variations that don’t require a new GTIN. This is needed to support the online shopping experience – to ensure the customer always finds and buys the exact product they are looking for.

Though streamlined, there is no major change to the core logic behind GTIN management, which means the new standard will have no operational impact on businesses. But it will be quicker and simpler for anyone applying GTINs to new and existing products.

Tools & Resources

The GS1 UniqueID Initiative


GS1 UniqueID is a large, multi-year industry initiative that is dedicated to making GTIN management—and the sharing of data about minor product changes—simpler and more effective. The ultimate goal is to provide:

  • Consumers with the right product information at the right time
  • A more approachable and easy to understand GS1 system that encourages industry consistency and adoption/use
  • Global standards that enable companies to operate in an omni-channel, global retail market

The GTIN Management standard was a key foundational step in making the GS1 UniqueID effort a reality.