GS1 advisory services

GS1 advisory services

GS1 Advisory Services is a group that works on practical consultancy challenges and opportunities for companies that use GS1 industry standards. MHD talks to GS1’s John Szabo about what Advisory Services offers, and how GS1 standards can help unlock value for customers.

GS1 develops international standards with industry and for industry, including barcoding and other standards that support commerce. The Advisory Services team cuts across many different aspects of the organisation’s operations. 

John Szabo, Manager of Advisory Services at GS1 Australia, spearheads a group that consults with companies on their unique “pain points”. Generally speaking, this involves their use of a particular GS1 standard – how it might best be implemented, how it might best be used – but the Advisory Services team’s remit isn’t restricted to only GS1 matters. 

“Our Advisory Services team goes on site and provides organisations with guidance  on the best way to implement GS1 standards,” John says. 

Take barcoding, GS1’s bread and butter, pretty well mandatory for anyone selling anything in the world. To get a product into  Coles,  Woolworths or Bunnings  – you’ve got to put a barcode on it.

“People come to us, they get a membership and we issue them  a range of numbers to put on their products. Yet, many organisations don’t take advantage of the other benefits that barcoding offers. Many supply chain and data management pain points remain for customers, even though products are barcoded. The pain points may be a lack of real time inventory visibility, inaccurate stock, and manual transactions – which all impact an organisation’s ability to service its customers.

The role of GS1 Advisory Services is to identify and help an organisation address these pain points. 

“We look at how, through the application of something as simple as barcoding coupled with scanning, we can address some of those pain points,” John says. “Barcoding obviously helps with inventory management and can be a great place to start in terms of improving the visibility of where stock is in the production process.

GS1 Australia
John Szabo, Manager of Advisory Services, GS1.

“While we have all been using barcodes for years, it’s common that people forget how they fit into the bigger picture – how barcodes fit in with traceability and other standards and how these standards can be used to unlock internal value for  a company.” 

Currently, one of the many areas that the Advisory Services team is working in is the rail sector and project i-TRACE.

“The rail industry  wants to uniquely identify components and equipment that go onto making trains and carriages. We’re helping them with implementations, from basic barcoding requirements through to product information sharing between trading partners.”

GS1 Advisory Services is not there to solve all problems a company has in one day, but to map out a multi-stage process. 

“Our work focuses on mapping current processes and then formulating a ‘to-be’ process that incorporates the use of GS1 standards,” John says. “At the end of the day, the GS1 standards are an enabler. Putting a barcode on a product is an enabler to do something – if you want to do, say, warehouse management, it won’t work without barcodes, or at least unique identifiers. In a voice-pick environment, you also need some level of standardised product identification, naming conventions and so on.” 

“GS1 Advisory Services helps advise on, implement and get the best out of the tried-and-true industry standards that GS1 develops.”


“We have programmes where we look at data management processes and assist organisations with their data cleansing,” John says. “We’ll also go on site to measure products for clients to ensure everything is being done accurately. I recently spent two days with a client – a big corporate – checking  their weights and measures at carton level to ensure they were correct. What we do can be very hands on, doing the work, but also workshopping and having Discovery sessions on how to improve processes. 

“It’s very varied, the type of work that we do.”


GS1 Advisory Services is an independent consultancy with a difference. “We are technology agnostic in the provision of our recommendations,” John says. “Our only bias is towards the use of the GS1 standards. In a world where GS1 barcodes are the barcodes used in supply chains globally – and where it continues to set industry best practice standards in concert with industry – this isn’t in any way an unreasonable bias to have.”


Advisory Services isn’t a consultancy service firm that a company would contact for just any issue. Rather, John says, they can work in parallel or with regular supply chain consultancies. 

“Our difference is that we’re experts in GS1 standards and the practical implementation of those standards, independently of whatever solution our client uses – or whatever other consultancy they’re working with.”

“We have consultants on our team with deep industry experience and can relate that experience to how best to implement and utilise the GS1 standards.”


The jumping off point for engaging GS1 Advisory Services is a client needing help with a challenge around implementing GS1 standards, or using them to get the most value for of their business. 

“Whether it’s about barcoding and scanning, traceability, EDI [Electronic Data Interchange] or data management  – that’s where we become involved,”  John says. “Would-be clients wouldn’t come to us with, say, a standard ERP implementation challenge. We would tell that person, ‘You need to go to a consulting firm’, but we will work with that consulting firm  when it comes to the piece involving  GS1 standards.

“We’re not trying to be everything to everyone. We provide practical advice on how to implement GS1 standards and we’ll help clients along the whole journey towards implementation – the questions they need to ask  vendors and the path they need to take.”

For more information on GS1 Australia’s Advisory Services, click here. 

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