Standards are super important, especially when it comes to ecosystems as diverse, and with as many stakeholders as supply chains.
One organisation that has been crafting supply chain standards for decades is GS1 US. GS1 is the organisation that sets the standards around barcodes - the reason why when you scan an item at a self-checkout, the machine knows what the item is, and its price.
I invited GS1's Senior Vice President, Innovation and Partnerships Melanie Nuce to come on the podcast to tell me all about what's happening in the world of standards, and what's new and interesting coming at us.
We had a fascinating conversation covering the origin or barcodes, new potential use cases for them, and where to from here.
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So you have a series of numbers that said expiration date is December 1st, of 2022. You could give a store associate a reader and they could just go down the, the line and scan and get a red light or a green light, red light, pull it off the shelf, green light, leave it on. Like you've just added so much efficiency to the process, right where you're dealing with some labor challenges anywayTom Raftery:
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Digital Supply Chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Hi everyone. Welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery, and with me on the podcast today, I have my special guest. Melanie. Melanie, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?Melanie Nuce:
Tom, I'm so happy to be with you here today, and thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit about what we've been doing in this space that you've made so popular through the podcast. I'm Melanie Nuce. I lead innovation and partnerships for GS1 US. GS1 US is the US member organization of a global standards body known as GS1. We're most well known for the UPC barcode. It's kind of hard to dispute the fame of the barcode after 50 years of being in market. And GS one barcodes are scanned over 6 billion times a day in supply chains all over the world. So, my role is, to help our members look around the corner at what's happening with emerging technology and how standards and tech can come together to help solve current and maybe even future business problems they haven't thought of so that we can extend the value of standards, but also drive those positive outcomes for the business member.Tom Raftery:
Okay, great. And Melanie, let me just ask you this right off the bat. If you guys are responsible for the standard for barcodes, what else do you do? Because I mean, the standards for barcodes have been out there now for, I don't know, I'm gonna guess 40, 50 years, and I'm guessing they're not changing anytime soon. So what else do you do?Melanie Nuce:
Part of what we hopefully get to talk about today is that we're looking for them to change, but it's really interesting that a lot of times you don't think of barcode as a technology, but right it is an automatic identification mechanism that's used by readers to capture data. And so for 50 years, the first scan was in June of 1974 at a Marsha's supermarket in Troy, Ohio. It was a, a 10 pack or whatever of Wrigley Juicy Fruit gum. So this has become like the famous, the first scan. But so to your point, like 1974 was the very first barcode scan, and I would say it took grocery the better part of, I don't know, maybe two decades or so to adopt the notion of scan at point of sale. But that from there, we built scan in the supply chain. So you'll now see manifestations of what we would call like a license plate barcode on cartons. That's where automatic conveyance came in in distribution centers by putting barcodes on cartons that were tied to data that said, this is what's in box one, and this is what's in box two. You could automatically route inbound shipments to their outbound doors, right? We call that cross stocking, without using human labor. So we've been able to consistently redeploy human labor in more value added ways by trying to automate solutions. And this was before we even had fancy terms like robotic process, automation. Where software can help make repetitive tasks more efficient. So it's very interesting when you, when we think of how trade happens, I'm a consumer. I go into a store, there's magically a thing on a shelf I wanna buy. All of the work, the people, the machines, the trucks, the products that went into making that experience happen can be powered by GS one standards. And it happens in three parts. Identifying, identifying the things, the locations, the assets, the entities, the, you know, the parties that are involved in the supply chain, using globally unique identifiers. That's kind of the core of our system. Things like the, the global trade item number, which is what you see in the UPC barcode. Capturing that in machine readable ways because it's all about driving automation and efficiency. And that's mostly through barcodes, but also a little known fact. Maybe a lesser known fact that's probably not little known is that GS one governs a standard for, passive ultra high frequency R F I D and so like item level tagging that's happening in apparel retail where they know down to the specific unit what inventory they have available. We're managing the standard both for the numbering system, the serialization, and the air interface protocol that allows readers and tags to talk to each other. So that's capturing it to allow scale and then of course sharing data because you're only as good as what you know. And this is, I think, been one of the biggest challenges we have is data ties a lot to behavior, contractual relationships, all those things that go on in the supply chain. And being able to share information in a way that allows your business to be profitable. It also allows your business partners to be profitable and to make effective business decisions. That's the hallmark of the GS one system. Identify, capture, and share.Tom Raftery:
Okay. Interesting. And I mean, The supply chains that we have today have gotten enormously more complex than they were in the 19, in the early 1970s. So there's a huge need now for the digitization of those supply chains, and it's, it's starting to happen. but Is that something that you're coming across as well in terms of both the requirement from, uh, consumers and regulators?Melanie Nuce:
Yes, that that's the I. It's so funny, I was thinking about this with a colleague yesterday and saying, You, you can come up with a lot of business drivers and initiatives and processes that you wanna improve, but I was really racking my brain trying to say it's, about three things. I need to make money. I need to save money or I need to mitigate risk. And right risk can come in the forms of like not doing bad things, but also in complying with regulators and. Making money and saving money is all about that consumer or patient experience. And so we are seeing a move towards digitization. I would say that the pandemic accelerated that, because particularly the, in the us, and I know this wasn't spread across the globe, but up until the pandemic, the US was lagging the world, uh, or Europe, in the UK in particular around online grocery delivery. so you had a much higher percentage of penetration in Europe and the UK and the US was like, they were running like 8% say, and the US was one to 2% and the pandemic, all of a sudden people didn't wanna come in stores or you weren't allowed to have 'em in stores, whatever was going on. So you had to very quickly build this notion of at least click and collect some, in some cases, home delivery. You had to ramp it if you, if you already had it or you had to put it in place within weeks, we heard grocery retailers two to three weeks, right? Trying to implement these curbside programs. You have to have data to do that cuz there is nothing worse than, okay, retailer, I'll use your app, I'll make an order and I show up and about 45% of what I wanted is in the bags. And you and I had talked about this before, where if I need dog food, I, I kind of need it now. I don't need it a week from now. So there's just nothing worse for a consumer than failing on a promise and it, it's unfortunately happening all the time. I remember Christmas, probably 2018 so this was even in the before times. One department store retailer was only filling on average 55% of their buy online pickup in store orders. And so the backlash from consumers, especially with social media, all the platforms available to air my opinions became clear. And so this really is about harnessing the power of data. And the only way that I can harness that data is if I first identify it and capture it. And then I think the share piece also, maybe we can talk about a little bit more later, but how to leverage technology to share in a way that makes you comfortable. And that's maybe one of the greatest things that a technology like blockchain has introduced for us. It's introduced a lot of other confusion, but one thing it does really well, right, is help you segment where you wanna share and how you wanna share how visible you want or need that data to be.Tom Raftery:
Okay. Before we dig into the technology side of things, I just wanted to clarify something again about GS one. Who are the stakeholders you're interacting with mostly? Is it consumers? Is it regulators? Is it large retailers, or is it a combination of all of the above or somebody else entirely?Melanie Nuce:
Very fair question. That's because we, I think, while I'd love to say we interact with consumers, we're very much a B2B standards body. So our board in the US and I think this is pretty consistent with the other member organizations and global is, is our members. So it's large retailers, large manufacturers, online marketplaces, healthcare providers, medical device, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. It is the industry, food service operators, distributors, and manufacturers. So it's really the core. People that are making the products, delivering the products, selling the products, and then the regulatory piece. Yes, in the US we have a really good relationship with several agencies, but a lot of work done around drug supply chain security and food safety modernization, which are both governed by the US Food and Drug Administration. We also have relationships with Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security around imports working with them on identification of relevant data and digitization. To your point, like even the government needs to go digital. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So around the world, there are actually a lot of economic cooperatives and World Trade Organization, of course, that GS one works with globally. But regulators are important. They represent a unique ability to compel an industry to do something. So while we're not a lobbying organization, we're really here to enable either what industry wants to self-regulate and kind of go to the government and say, We've come up with a great way to, Right, help provide more information here. Or if the government is taking the proactive approach and industry needs to respond, we're kind of backing that up with the standards. And then a suite of, I guess our other big stakeholder, Tom, our solution partners. So the technology community, I like to say. Standards are only as good as the technology that enables them. So I can, I can be part of a team that writes a wonderful standard around, you know, serialized shipment container codes. But if there aren't technologists who will put that on a label that goes on a box that ships out of a warehouse, then it's just shelfware. So, we work heavily in the US with our partner ecosystem and, and really providing access from partners to members. Because in the US 94% of our new members are a million dollars or less. So you have new businesses coming online all the time, selling a whole variety of, just fun products. I've had a great experience getting to know small and micro-business owners in what they sell, but how they bring that to market, that technology community really has to be there to support them.Tom Raftery:
Okay, great. And you talk about members. So you're a membership driven organization. Is that where your income comes from?Melanie Nuce:
Yes. GS one US is a 5 0 1 c6, which is a not-for-profit organization It's a member driven. So what that means is when you partner with us and you give us money, you become a member. And our primary revenue source is in unique identification. So when you want to put a U P C on your product, Part of the number is a prefix that is assigned by GS one us. That is a privilege that's granted us by GS one global. So this is what they've done with 117 organizations around the world is allocated portions of capacity and we have options for our largest members that allow you to license a large capacity prefix so, say a company like p and g that has lots of brands Tide and Tampax and Pampers and Loves and others, they'll license a, a prefix and then they'll assign all the individual numbers to the different products. Really small companies have said, I just am selling one, two, or three products. I worked with a woman who instead of putting salad dressing on your salad, she recommend using spices because it was healthier. So it was like different flavored sprinkle combinations and she just needed a few numbers. And so we actually also licensed individual numbers. So but that is, that's the lion share of the revenue. We also do have some programs for, usually they're industry leading companies that wanna help shape the standard, shape, the agenda, what are we gonna focus on going forward? And we run, um, what we call community engagement initiatives and companies pay that's a cost recovery mechanism for the staff that we put to support the work groups and things. So, yep. But that's the lion share of our revenue is around licensing unique identifiers.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And coming back to the technology issue that you raised a while back, how are you seeing technology enable this?Melanie Nuce:
Well this is the whole thing about how specific do I wanna get and how, how well do I wanna track something through a supply chain. So a, a UPC barcode, and probably someone from GS one us would come back and say, You have to stop talking about upc. That's the us, that's the US point of sale barcode. That's what people know. Lots of people learned about it in the past two years. I used to get on plane and someone would, You'd sit next to somebody, Oh, what do you do? And I'm like, Oh boy, here we go. Now I'm able to sit down and say, Have you ever done self checkout? Oh yeah. I said, Well, you know the little thing that goes beep when you put the, product across the scanner? Yeah, I said that that's actually a standard and people look really well sure, because you don't want the number on potato chips to be the same as the number on toilet paper. You wouldn't be able to track your sales and you'd probably charge the wrong price for things, light bulb comes on. Right. Very interesting. So I, you know, I think in one sense it's, it's connecting the dots between an identifier is just an identifier, but automating that and turning that into something very powerful that there was a video that was made about the history of the UPC barcode or the g, the global trade item number and it showed somebody got footage of what grocery store lines looked like in the seventies, right? With just all those cashiers ringing up 99 cents, 49 cents, a dollar 49, and lines and lines of customers and to just now where I can put a few items in my basket. Walk up to a self-service kiosk where one store associate is manning, six of them, and check myself out. And you know, some people love that and some people don't. But that all of the technology that goes into that, there's the software that's ensuring all the data is delivered to the right places. There's of course the hardware that makes the experience, accurate and provides the right velocity to it. So I think those are some of the ways, and of course all of the data that had to get exchanged between the partners to even get the, uh, package of pencils on the shelf at the store. All of those things. The, the unique identifier becomes the bridging mechanism for each party in that chain as they add data and pull data for what they need. I like to say they either contribute or derive value, or maybe they do both. Right? I'm adding to the story, I'm taking away from the story as the thing moves through the supply chain.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And you mentioned blockchain earlier. Do you see that fitting in there?Melanie Nuce:
Yes, more than ever I think blockchain is a technology choice. Initially it was becoming, you know, the panacea for all the problems we were having. we're gonna achieve traceability like never before. And I, yeah, but traceability only works when people identify, capture, and share the data. So you can choose a blockchain as the mechanism to do that. But if, your business practices, you know, you don't have the right governance in place or you have, you know, sometimes you deal with the fact that people, for lack of a better term, they hoard their data like, I'm not sharing my data. those types of things don't get solved with technology. But the really interesting thing for me, whether you choose blockchain or you choose another, Database cuz blockchain is actually right. It's a way to store data. The way you pass data. What I like to call the payload, someone has to define. So even if you and I decide we wanna use blockchain for say food safety, we have to define what data elements matter, what format we're gonna share those in. In many cases with blockchain, you have to decide which blockchain protocol, because the consensus algorithm, right, the hashing, how I'm gonna obfuscate that data or hide it from eyes that don't need to see it. You and I have to agree on all those things, so it doesn't become a magic pill to solve a problem, but it offers some really unique features around the fact that you and I can mask that data so that someone could make a request and we could just simply say yes or no without revealing the contractual agreement behind. You know, what we've done there. But also it's tamper proof. And I think that's a really helpful thing that says if something changes, it's recorded. It's not that you can't change things. Cause I think people thought that in the beginning, like, well, you can't change anything and you can't delete records. No. You can always append, you can amend. But those things get recorded in the transaction history so that we all have visibility. So I think there is definitely some value there. The biggest challenge we have today, Still is different. Blockchain protocols don't simply work together, and that's the hallmark of standards is interoperability. Anybody should be able to pick any technology provider they want, whatever fits their business process and their needs. And blockchain. Right now still the systems are a bit closed loop because once you hash a piece of data, you can't unhash it. You have to have the actual raw data to be able to validate whether it's been changed or not. So there, there's some complexities there. This is why I go back to, to technology providers, and I remember sitting down with one of the really big ones, the very beginning of their blockchain journey and saying, The best advice I can give you is make a mobile app that's going to cause us to be really friendly for the strawberry grower or the coffee bean grower. You know, the whoever is closest to the source of the product, who has the least amount of technology that you want to contribute to this traceability journey, you've gotta give them enablement tools because they're not gonna set up nodes and they're right. They're not gonna be part of validating transactions. And we. Couple years ago, one of my colleagues, she went to Thailand and participated in a hackathon in the seafood industry because in seafood there's a lot of illegal, unregulated and underreported fishing that goes on. And so they brought these hackers together to try to come up with creative technical solutions. And this 17 year old student built an app called nemo. And NEMO was basically like a mobile chatbot for the sea captain, the, fishing boat captain could just put in things like their vessel information, the size of the catch, what they caught. You could use QR code to like scan a tote. So you had, unique identifier for, the catch tote weight, the weights and all those things as you handed it off to the processor and it had, it was a little fish. And the little fish would ask you the questions and you'd answer the questions. But this was a 17 year old student and all of that got written to a blockchain. So he was just taking the complexity of technology out and just saying most companies, most organizations have a mobile phone. We certainly have world connectivity issues we still have to solve. But that was the idea that I, I never would've thought it, it came from a 17 year old student in a hackathon, in Thailand. But that was kind of what you wanna take back to the big firms and say, This, this is what you need to build.Tom Raftery:
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, you, you alluded to it there as well, with the fact that blockchains can't really easily talk to one another, the, the role of standards, and I mean GS one is all about standards. Talk to me about the role of standards in, in supply chains and the requirement for it for data sharing.Melanie Nuce:
Sure, well the history of data sharing in, in our industry has largely been what we call electronic data interchange. And in the US there, right ansi is the governing body and outside the us the un kind of UNC fact, there's a suite of electronic sharing standards that sit under there, but it's very batch oriented, so you're gonna make things up in a big transaction and send it usually overnight. We even found in the mid nineties that this wasn't working because if your warehouse as a manufacturer was very close to the distribution center of your retail partner, which is kind of how some of the industry grew up, was like, Oh, I wanna be really close to them so I can just get 'em all these wonderful goods in 30 minutes. The problem is then the ship notice that told them what was in that shipment didn't happen until midnight. And so you had trucks sitting out in right in the yard waiting to be processed because you couldn't get to the data. so we, we support those standards for sure. I think the order to cash process, purchase orders and invoices still works pretty well with those, but what wasn't working well was physical movement of goods. And now more than ever, where you're dealing with supply chain shortages and labor shortages and, and trying to manage customer delight and all of that, the data is the critical piece, and I need it when I need it, and I need it, where I need it. And so several years ago, GS one developed a standard. It has one of the hardest names to remember. It's called the Electronic Product Code Information Services Standard, or E P C I S or epcis. Some people call it epcis. So E P C I S is a physical event data sharing standard. It actually can take it down to the individual unit if you want like a specific garment, you can do it at the carton level, you can do it at the shipment level, but the notion is it was written with more modern technologies that can be exchanged in real time. And it's an xml. We have both an XML base base and adjacent LD base so that it's, it's pretty agnostic to the, the actual technology provider. It's just, it's a language for data sharing. We basically call it like an event based api. And so you can take a blockchain. That's your data storage mechanism and you can translate those events into an E P C I S event, share that with somebody else who's on a database or a blockchain, it doesn't matter. And it becomes sort of the bridging mechanism and not sort of, it becomes the bridging mechanism. We did, we did, actually did two industry tests with this, with the very same seafood industry, cuz they were really all about this traceability, journey. And we got seven different solution partners ranging from really big, who'd made strong commitments to blockchain, to some small blockchain startups, to some food safety operators, like technology operators who weren't using blockchain at all, who were using like traditional relational databases. And we put E P C I S in the middle and basically tracked it from the processor, like a hypothetically from the processor to the consumer. We used brand owners who are right, very large in the seafood space. And, retailers who also sell a lot of, of like canned, you know, shelf stable type of seafood products. And we were able to show that E P C I S as a messaging standard was a way to bridge all of these backend technology choices. So, so again, we were building the technology and the truth is, for us, it's really about people leveraging and extending their investment in standards. Like I don't charge people to use E P C I S. It's a publicly available, royalty free standard that's on the GS one website. A lot of people put effort into define how would that work? And now what you say is, Hey, you know, partner with the technology industry, Pick this up, include it. Just that notion of having a standards compatible commercial offering gives you the the competitive advantage you're looking for in whatever it is you're taking to market. But it mitigates the fact that whoever's on the other end, if they've already invested in GS one identification and GS one data, you're gonna make it really easy for them to leverage the the business value and the solution you offer. So that was kind of our contribution to the blockchain space, was saying standards and blockchain actually work together. They don't compete. And, and very fortunately, we had a standard, so we have this E P C I S standard that had been in place for many years and just this year, just this year, we ratified a new version of the standard, which actually includes sensor data. So this is gonna be a phenomenal opportunity for cold chain applications, which really got a ton of attention with the movement of vaccines, of course. but if you want, right, because capturing sensor data is all automated. Humans can't possibly do all these temperature reads and have them be accurate, um, or to the scale, the volume that they want. Being able to incorporate sensor data into events to kind of show, hey, this, this product stayed within the temperature range that was required as it moved from point A to point B, it's a really phenomenal step forward for the standard. We're very excited. That was also the standard where we, added the Jason LD component, so we were no longer relying on xml, which was kind of critical as well, because unfortunately with technology, as you know, nothing lasts forever. The UPC barcode is maybe the one exception, but it's, it's probably gonna have to go through a transformation in the next five years as well.Tom Raftery:
Okay. And one of my hot button topics is sustainability. So is there any way that these standards can help with sustainability?Melanie Nuce:
Two things. I like to think of sustainability sort of on the front end of products in, in terms of right, how you source a product and how you prove that it's been sourced ethically, maybe that you've reused recycled materials. And that's a data driven exercise. Being able to capture that data in trustworthy ways. And so the GS one system has a data dictionary that defines lots of different data elements about products. We've been working, on some pilots in embodied carbon and being able to declare embodied carbon as something moves through a supply chain and leverage the standard to do that on the front end. On the back end, it's about circularity, right? It's about how do I now transform this post consumption product? Somebody's done with it. Resale is one way I think of driving circularity, but if you say, How do I break it down? How do I recycle it? And so we've been working on persistent identity. One of the big challenges with, particularly in, in apparel or think of even glasses or headset. The UPC that identifies that product, or even if you had a serial number on the package, once you take it outta the package, you lose the identity. So we've been looking at ways to persist identity. In some cases, that can be as simple as an R F I D thread that is sewn into a garment. It can be a QR code. That you sew into a garment, it can be an imprinted code, right? Like a, like a direct part marking type of barcode that would be on the product, not for the purposes of tracking who owns it or any of those kinds of things. Cause people, they panic about things like that. But for the purposes of saying, how is this product properly disposed of. If I have the unique identity of something when I'm done with it and said this is a hundred percent cotton, or this contains, you know, aluminum or silicon, And, and, and the barcode just tells me what the material composition of the product is. You can actually drive a series of automated recycling schemes. So I think one, there's, there's like a business model opportunity here on the recycling side for people who wanna stand up. We met this snowboard manufacturer a few years ago that had a unique way of manufacturing the snowboard with a resin that would allow you to actually recycle the wood when you were done. The process to remove the resin from the no longer usable snowboard, only they could control. They, it's not that they wanted to do this, it was just they wanted sort of a do good for the planet element to their message. And they were called Niche Snowboards. It was a great name. So they have this process for removing the resin so you could return your snowboard to them, but moving beyond that to say, look, if your sweet spot is selling snowboards, not recycling wood, maybe there are businesses out there where that is their competitive competence, and if you could give them information about how the resin should be removed or those types of things, you could make it so that you didn't have to take your product back to the source to do the circular, good that you wanna do. You could actually take it anywhere. And of course, as you know, automating the recycling of product, packaging, fiber board, plastics and those kinds of things, doing that at scale is the only way that's actually gonna make it profitable to put it back into the supply chain. But so critical because you're fighting against the finite resources issue that we've been talking about for the past few years.Tom Raftery:
Okay, cool. And where to next for GS one? I mean, what's coming down the line? What are you excited to see about to happen?Melanie Nuce:
Well, the nearest term thing is the whole idea of introducing two dimensional barcodes on everyday consumer products. So it's probably not the most, esoteric technology. I mean, I've, I have people on my team who work on things like fingerprint identifiers and Right, just microscopic, like DNA tags that, that will track the origin of products and things like that. So those are some fun things, but they're not coming soon.Tom Raftery:
Blows industry's mind when you talk about those things. But the two dimensional barcode, you know, just going back to the point of the up p c or an ean, if you're outside of North America, it goes beep at the checkout and the system says what price this costs. So I have a good experience and I know what I was gonna be charged for it. That's kind of the end of it. What if you wanna be able to tell the consumer a recipe to use this product in, or you wanted to offer a real time coupon, based on the fact that they picked something up off the shelf, or you wanted to be able to manage stock rotation through the big problem we have today is the expiration dates and batch lot codes where they appear on product packaging. It's quite difficult to read and it's not consistent. So if I'm a store associate and I'm responsible to pull expired product from the shelf, I have to go find for each different brand, essentially, where does the code sit on this product and then determine is this code says I'm, I pull it or I leave it on the shelf. And so you have a lot of challenges in retail today where recalled products, are sold that shouldn't be sold. Products that are not recalled, are not sold because they get a generic message from the manufacturer, Hey, there's a recall. And so we can't sell any of it. So there's brand loyalty issues, there's retail loyalty issues, but it all boils down to making the data readable at scale. And if we go from a one D bar code to a 2D bar code, like a QR code, and it's easiest to say QR code because a lot of people got used to in the pandemic, you know, reading menus with their phone. And now if you go, I was just at the airport last night, and if you wanted the menu, it said, hold your phone up and, you know, open your camera and you get the QR code for the menu. Now that we have some consumer awareness of how 2D works, You can now engage the consumer at the shelf with the product in some unique way. You can also engage the consumer post purchase in their home with, whatever loyalty offers at a brand level. I mean, there's certainly loyalty at the retailer level, but, you know, buy so many packs of diapers and get a coupon. The warranty element, the whole notion of transfer of ownership on high value goods. But I think that from the, the supply chain unlock for me is all about selling what I'm supposed to sell and only what I'm supposed to sell and only taking off the shelf what I'm not supposed to sell. So I, I was in a grocery store and there are a bunch of expired frozen pizzas in the freezer case. And the only reason I knew this is cuz I'm, you know, I'm a standards wonk and so I wanna go look and I'm looking at these codes, I'm like, wow, these pizzas are expired. The problem is the code is so tiny and it's like this little embossed code on the very bottom edge of the pizza box. If you had a two dimensional barcode that either embedded a batch lot number that could call the cloud and say, What was the expiration date for this batch lot? Or it had the expiration date, right in the, a 2D barcode uses a URL string, right? So you have a series of numbers that said expiration date is December 1st, of 2022. You could give a store associate a reader and they could just go down the, the line and scan and get a red light or a green light, red light, pull it off the shelf, green light, leave it on. Like you've just added so much efficiency to the process, right where you're dealing with some labor challenges anyway. So, and I think similar things, dynamic pricing is one that came up in a recent conversation where if things are approaching you know, the end of their freshness date, you could say, Hey, this product's actually 50% off, but you could do it through a consumer engagement rather than someone running around the store and right, putting out new labels all the time. So I think 2D barcodes are very exciting, not just from the idea that right, we can engage consumers in the conversation which is happening. You may have noticed this today. Now you pick up a product and some of our members will say, It looks like a nascar cuz it's got all these logos all over it. It's right, a 2D logo and a loyalty logo and some other things. And GS one created a standard, we call it GS one digital link. It's a syntax for how you create the URL string that goes in that QR code that will allow you to do things like ingredient declarations, health and wellness, allergy, promotion, all those things that I mentioned simply by just expanding what the technology on the product can hold the amount of data it can hold, and then how you build the apps and the experience around that. So it's not, it's certainly not simple. I don't know that doing the UPC 50 years ago was simple either, but it is an exciting development. And in the US we've been working on a program we call Sunrise 2027. The date gives it away They're calling it the global 2D migration in the broader GS one federation. But in the US they seem to like to have a date. It's like me, you know, This is due it at midnight. Oh, okay. At 1155 I'll make sure I'm done with it. but this is what we're working on with industry right now, particularly in consumer packaged goods. Again, it's, piggybacking use cases off one another, leveraging a technology that consumers and even more so stores are now aware of a lot of stores you can pull up a 2D barcode to scan your loyalty at the cash wrap. So bringing all of that together for benefits, that kind of, again, they, they extend across the stakeholder community.Tom Raftery:
Okay, cool. Very good. Personally, what I've been using QR codes for is to replace business cards. So I get a QR code with my, with all my details in it, and someone ask me for a business card, I just pull out my phone and flash on the QR code. And you know, I find that really, really useful. And again, another sustainability win. So , nice one there. we're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Melanie, is there any question I haven't asked you that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of?Melanie Nuce:
Maybe the one question just being selfish since I'm the innovation person, is you know, how do I engage with GS one us on innovation topics and, we have a really simple email email@example.com. You can ping us any time. We're doing pilots all the time and we're always looking for startups or incumbent technology providers, end users. We right, we talk to end user to members all the time about, technologies where they're trying to see if the application of standards can apply. That's what we love to do. Take the unknown. Make it known, figure out a way to apply it and then try to drive scale. So I would just love the opportunity to right have your listeners engage with my innovation. I have some really crack innovation managers. They're wonderful team. And like I said, they love to work on crazy projects that range from converting 2D images to 3D assets to right determining how much data can we embed in a, in a DNA tag that we could put on leafy greens so we can all have romaine this Thanksgiving. I know it's a very US centric holiday, but we've had a few Thanksgivings with no romaine because of right challenges in the supply chain.Tom Raftery:
Fascinating. Fascinating. You've, already answered, I think, but I'll, I'll ask it anyway. My last question, which is always, if people want to know more about yourself or about any of the topics we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them? You mentioned the email, address is there more?Melanie Nuce:
Well, GS one us.org, that's, that's our website. GS one.org of course, is the global website for, I'm sure you've got listeners in lots of other countries too. But, that's the best place to go and you will find a lot of great information about things we've talked here around sustainability, retail automation, supply chain visibility, those are very near and dear to us. And so, I think the web is a, is a great resource and we just deployed a new website about six weeks ago, so it's really awesome. If you go there, hopefully it'll be super responsive and you'll find what you're looking for.Tom Raftery:
Tremendous. Tremendous. Okay, Melanie, that's been fantastic. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.Melanie Nuce:
Yes. Thank you for having me, Tom.Tom Raftery:
Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, simply drop me an email to TomRaftery@outlook.com If you like the show, please don't forget to click Follow on it in your podcast application of choice to be sure to get new episodes as soon as they're published Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find a show. Thanks, catch you all next time.