As global trade becomes more complex and more, well, global, and as the numbers of products and manufacturers grow, we need longer numbers. So the old UPC is now part of the GTIN system.
Specifically, the UPS code is now called GTIN-12. GTIN-8 and GTIN-13 are also used at POS, but mostly in Europe, where they are called EAN codes. And there are also GTIN-14 codes, which are not yet used at the point of sale.
We are talking about bar codes. An 8-digit bar code can make… hmmm… permutations… combinatorics… let’s just say a whole lot of different numbers. But a 13 digit code can make even more. Enormously more.
GTIN is currently used only in barcodes, but it could also be used in RFID (radio frequency identification). The new system doesn’t change standards or require new hardware, but UPC is already a legacy system, so the faster you get into GTIN, the better.
In fact, Walmart has been using the system since 2009, and your company must have a GS1 company prefix to be a Walmart supplier.