Author Matt Shorts (VP Product)

You’ve made it through to the final post in our blog series on GS1 identifiers and the EVRYTHNG platform… congratulations! (For a recap on what we covered so far, take a look at GS1 in a nutshellWhy web-enable GS1 Identifiers  and  EVRYTHNG and SmartSearch.)

In this post we’ll look at the “share” standards developed by GS1. Specifically we’re going to look at the Global Data Synchronization Network (GSDN) and Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS). EVRYTHNG enables brands to leverage these standards, realizing the vision of standards interoperability and information exchange. Let’s dive right in.


GS1’s GDSN helps brands manage and share their Master Data on a global basis. This makes it easy to publish and update data about their products. GDSN does this by using what are called Data Pools, which brands subscribe and publish information to on a regular basis. As of November 2017, the global registry has 36 Data Pools, 45.9k Trading Partner GLNs and 25.1M GTINs.   That’s a lot, so it’s important to be part of it if you use GS1 identifiers!

Figure 1:  how GDSN works. 

If a brand is not a member of the network, it can be a daunting proposition to join. Which data pool do they join? How do they get started standardizing data?

EVRYTHNG simplifies it all and helps the brand become GDSN-ready without having to work through each of these challenges or questions. The data structure standards are there through our implementation of the GS1 semantic model (remember blog post #3?). We’ve also standardized the communications approach to make things easy as well, using the Web of Things model. This means that a brand not already leveraging the GDSN can be up and running in no time.

If a brand is an existing member however, they are not without some challenges. Connections to data pools come with management overhead and changes to Master Data sets have downstream implications that need to be considered at all turns.  That’s why we put in place our flexible, standards-based data model: to help help brands manage these challenges.  However, it’s worth saying that joining and leveraging the GSDN is a minor thought in comparison to handling the ever-changing demands of your data consumers.

Being an open standards based network, it’s expected that the GDSN shouldn’t change as rapidly as a proprietary based system. This ensures that all systems leveraging it continue to work no matter what new platform or technology stack is introduced.

However, let’s talk about what happens when the data model needs to evolve. It can slow down brands from reacting to new industry needs or fast evolutionary changes. Technology will always evolve quicker than standards, so ensuring that a brand can future-proof themselves for emerging data communication strategies is vitally important. The same data model that EVRYTHNG provides helps address these challenges as well. It provides a layer of standardization and validation to help conform to standards, but in a manner flexible enough to augment the model to try new things. This allows brands to simplify their strategy for current/future e-commerce integrations, marketing channel evolutions and the emergence of new platforms with new data demands, all the while supporting a consistent and stable standard in GDSN.


Ok, we’ve structured the data around a brand’s products and shared it with everybody interested; now we need to track and describe their movements. GS1 EPCIS to the rescue! GS1 EPCIS is a structure that gives a brand the What, When, Where and Why of its products, and can be implemented with both product-level data (GTINs) or with serialized products (SGTINs).

Figure 2: how EPCIS works

The execution of this is very straight forward on the EVRYTHNG platform. We have Places identified with GLNs, Products with GTINs, Thngs with SGTINs and Collections with SSCCs. To model their movement and the events associated with them, we simply create Actions on any of these resources. Action types are the means by which you identify the EPCIS Event Type (Object, Aggregation, Transaction, etc.). The flexible Action data model then handles the payload of that event; items such as the class or instance-level objects, the location, time and reason (Business Step) are all described in the GS1 Core Business Vocabulary (CBV).  The EVRYTHNG platform also extends the model to include additional information from the web client itself. EVRYTHNG’s action model allows a business the flexibility to implement just the portions of EPCIS that add value to their organization.

Finally, regardless of whether a brand fully implements EPCIS semantics and structure, chooses some portions of it or creates a new model altogether, it’s important to understand the value of the Action data model. It has been created to help model real-world events digitally, such that all physical events are recorded. These events are immutable, providing a clear chain of visibility and audit to help brands have complete visibility across their supply and distribution networks. This also means you can use technologies like blockchain to record the events in a similar register. Check out our blockchain whitepaper here for additional details.

All good things must come to an end!

This was the last in our series on GS1 Standards – you’ve probably seen enough acronyms to last a lifetime!  We hope these blogs have given you a deeper understanding of how GS1 identifiers, and the standards surrounding them, can be used and extended on EVRYTHNG. Chances are you have the identifiers today, leverage them in many different processes throughout the enterprise, but just need to liberate them to increase their interoperability. That’s what we do!

Reach out to us at, and let us help you break down your legacy data silos.  And if you liked this blog series, please feel free to suggest other areas of interest you think we should explore further.

Authors Joël Vogt (Research Engineer) & Dominique Guinard (Co-founder and CTO)


The announcement at WWDC17 in June that the Camera app in the latest version of iOS, version 11, would be able to read QR codes out of the box got our attention. The main building blocks of the EVRYTHNG cloud, THNGs and Products, come with a QR code by default. This meant that soon over a billion devices would be able to interact with THNGs and products simply by reading a QR code.  Apple also announced that it would open the iOS 11 NFC API and improvements to their Vision framework, which provides native barcode reading capabilities. Why are these new iOS 11 features interesting for our customers? That’s what this blog is about! Let’s start by comparing barcode reading to iOS, Android and our own patented scanning Web-based SDK and service. Then, we’ll explain why native QR code support and CoreNFC are big news for us and finally, we’ll give a hands-on example to demonstrate how the EVRYTHNG cloud can help you to leverage Apple’s latest AutoID features.

Barcode Reading SDKs: EVRYTHNG, Apple, and Google

If the object you are tagging is likely to be part of an ongoing user engagement, then building a custom app makes sense. Users will download an app that addresses a recurring need. The question is then, should it be a native app or a Web app. And should the barcode be decoded locally or in the cloud? As a rule of thumb, Web is key for short living interactions with fast moving consumer goods. Native, on the other hand, is better for brands that already have a strong relationship with their customers inside an app or for scanning inside the supply chain.

If the answer is a Web app, the best way to go is using the cloud, for example by using evrythng-scan.js. A native app could also use the cloud, but is probably better off decoding barcodes locally. Local decoding is fast, requires no mobile data and is more accurate than using a cloud-based service. On iOS, both Apple Vision and Google’s Mobile Vision framework can help. We compare barcode reading solutions by Google, Apple and EVRYTHNG in the table below. In any case, the EVRYTHNG cloud makes it easy to encode a THNG or product in any kind of barcode through identifiers.

Local Web
Symbology Apple Vision Framework Google Mobile Vision EVRYTHNG Scan
QR Code x x x
EAN-13 x x x
EAN-8 x x x
UPC-A x x x
UPC-E x x x
Code-39 x x x
Code-93 x x x
Code-128 x x x
ITF-14 x x x
Codabar x x
Data Matrix x x x
PDF-417 x x
Aztec x x
2OF-5 x
EAN-2 x
EAN-5 x
DataBar x

How does built-in QR code recognition work and why could this be a game changer?

What about IoT applications for one-off, spontaneous interactions and short-term engagements? We found that the need to first download a dedicated app acted as a deterrent to many users, which is why we created SCANTHNG, a world-first commercial-grade service that enabled Web apps to read barcodes. Apple’s announcement goes one step further. It signals a paradigm shift, putting products at the center of the product-driven experience and the relationship between brands and their consumers. Consumers can now directly interact with a product through the iOS 11 camera app and the QR code on the product, doing away with custom apps.

The way the iOS 11 camera app works is by pointing the phone at a QR code. When the app detects a QR code, it will display a dropdown notification with a preview of the QR code content. Pressing the notification will automatically open the URI in a new app. iOS uses URI schemes to decide which app is used. For example, a URL of a song opens iTunes, facetime:// will call someone on FaceTime, URIs with no app assigned and unstructured text will be opened in Safari. A simple QR code provides the means to open a local app through a URI. This also works with ‘redirections’. The URL of a THNG can be resolved dynamically based on the type of product scanned and the user’s context. This is a very powerful feature of the EVRYTHNG cloud to dynamically steer native user experiences from the cloud through context-aware redirections.

NFC support in iOS 11

Apple is also finally opening the NFC API to developers with the release of iOS 11.  Access to the NFC framework, called CoreNFC, is limited. It only supports recent iPhone models (7 or newer) and it can only read tags. But nevertheless it is a potential game changer, as it finally allows the use of NFC tags in IoT applications that need to support both Android and iOS. An NFC tag simply stores a URI, and from that perspective it does the same thing as a QR code. But NFC tags are more sophisticated and can be used in security-related domains, such as making tags tamper-proof in counterfeit prevention use cases. Barcodes would not provide the same level of security. And NFC tags do not affect the design of a product, since no line of sight is required. From a THNG’s perspective, there is no difference between a QR code and an NFC tag. It’s just a URL of a THNG, which is the entry point of a consumer engagement or an entire business process. Let’s move on to a concrete example.

URI-driven native product experience controlled from the Web

Let’s see how an NFC tag on a wine bottle and the EVRYTHNG platform could help building a consumer-facing application to prevent counterfeit or products being sold on the gray market.  The process, as shown above, consists of five steps.

  1. Each bottle has an NFC tag, which contains the URL of its THNG. The THNG is an Active Digital Identity™ and contains information about its destination. The THNG will also record every interaction with its environment throughout its lifecycle. From the moment the bottle is manufactured through to when a consumer buys it and then recycles the bottle. All this information is stored in the cloud.
  2. Before opening the bottle, a consumer scans the NFC tag, which opens the URL on Safari.
  3. The first point of contact in the EVRYTHNG platform is the Redirector. The Redirector receives the user’s context and the product’s state and model.  Then it will execute a predefined set of rules and return a URI, which it dynamically generated.
  4. For example, a consumer buys and scans a wine bottle in London which was intended to be retailed in France. The Redirector will return a Web app for the consumer experience, such as tasting notes or promotions available nearby. The product is transformed into a direct channel to the consumer.
  5. At the same time, real time data is collected in the cloud, triggering an automated alert to supply chain staff of this gray market incidence, which can then be investigated further.

The EVRYTHNG platform provides the technologies that make it easy to host, manage and analyse THNGs that are context-aware and stateful. This is how the workflow depicted above was controlled in the cloud, although from the user’s perspective, it was mainly a native app experience.

Author Matt Shorts (VP Product)


Welcome to post #3 in our series exploring GS1 identifiers and the EVRYTHNG platform. If you missed the last post, read it here  to catch up. (Don’t worry, we’ll wait…)

The EVRYTHNG platform has been built with a highly flexible data model geared towards providing the ability for anybody to digitally represent physical products and the world around them. This is done by providing a resource model that is based on real-world interactions, and has even made its way to the W3C as the Web of Things model. The following diagram recaps the resource types that are used today.


Figure 1: EVRYTHNG semantic data model, incorporating GS1 identifiers.

Modelling Your Products

Let’s look at your products first. Chances are they already have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). This is the number that GS1 defines to identify “products or services that are priced, ordered or invoiced at any point in the supply chain.” (You can find more details on the usage of GTINs here.) You also encode all of these GTINs in various barcode types on your products, typically as an EAN/UPC. The problem is that these identifiers do not automatically connect your products to the internet. What if you could offer them up to consumers to scan from your website or from a specific URL? This would turn your analog identifier digital, and would drive experiences for users. Users could get product information such as the consumer transparency content served up by SmartLabel™ or Sage Project, or engage with your brand further for discounts or contests. They could even be used to enable eco-conscious recycling and reuse.

You can extend the GTIN by serializing it, making it a Serialized Global Trade Item Number and embedding it in technology such as UHF RFID. This allows you to read large amounts of products in a short period of time, without line of sight. That’s easy using EVRYTHNG’s platform as well. We model serialized objects as ‘Thngs’, which are simply instantiations of products (or a “digital twin” to use Gartner’s terminology). The SGTIN (or EPC when encoded in an RFID tag) is simply the identifier of the Thng, where the GTIN is the identifier of the Product. The meta-model is the same, but now we’re at a more granular level. And as with Products, your serialized products are now available as web resources, addressable on a global basis.

Structuring Your Data

Modeling your products as we discussed above implies that we have a structured way of presenting data to external systems. Structured data is even more important now that we are exposing those identifiers as web resources. You could potentially standardize the data structure within your enterprise, but it’s likely other companies and systems will not understand it. Even worse, search engines, which thrive on structured data, are challenged by attempts to normalize everything coming their way. This is where GS1 SmartSearch comes in. As an external extension to, GS1 SmartSearch provides a common language to describe products that use GS1 identifiers. (You can read more about the launch of the SmartSearch external extension of here.) Because, GS1 and EVRYTHNG are all members of W3C, together we create a powerful combination to expose and share data in a structured and meaningful way. Our data model already supports this as well. It’s as simple as populating the relevant SmartSearch attributes as custom fields on your product (or Thng), and you’re ready to share the information. Here’s a quick example of what it would look like in the EVRYTHNG dashboard:

Figure 2:  Creating a Thng or Product in the EVRYTHNG platform using standard GS1 vocabularies

Grouping Your Products

While tracking and counting individual products is important, reality dictates that we typically do so at a higher level: cases, pallets and containers. You may assign GTINs to some of these elements, but you’re probably also using Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCCs). GS1 defines SSCCs as identifiers that “identify a logistic unit, which can be any combination of trade items packaged together for storage and/or transport purposes.” (You can find out more about SSCCs here.) We simply execute these items as ‘Collections’ in EVRYTHNG. A collection is a grouping of Thngs, but you can also nest Collections within Collections. This allows you to model your exact product shipping structure, attaching GTINs, SSCCs, etc. along the way as identifiers on each of these collections. The model would look something like this:

Figure 3: Collections of thngs, cases and pallets can be modelled in the EVRYTHNG platform.

These resources are web-based as well, just like Products and Thngs. This means that your  GS1 SSCCs are web-addressable items that any service can consume and add information to along the way. This breaks down the barriers of data transfers and information sharing across traditionally siloed data stores.

Locating Your Products

So, we’ve modeled and identified your products and groupings of products. Keep in mind that this is all using identifiers that you’ve already had in your supply chain. We’ve simply digitally-enabled them. That’s powerful! Now, how about the location of these products? We can also model physical places as well to help build out a story of product movement and locations throughout your brand’s world, and beyond. GS1 does that with GLNs, so we’ll follow suit. GS1 defines the GLN as a Global Location Number “used by companies to identify their locations, giving them complete flexibility to identify any type or level of location required.”  (More details about the GLN can be found here.)


Figure 4: Real-time traceability of products with instant visibility via the dashboard.

In the EVRYTHNG platform, we have ‘Places’. These are physical locations with extended information that describe a location much like a GLN. In fact, you can use your existing GLNs as an identifier for a Place in EVRYTHNG.

Wrapping Up

Clearly your investment in GS1 Standards can be extended beyond your current use case(s). Making the items web-addressable unlocks all kinds of value from freeing siloed supply chain data to inventing new consumer experiences with your products. The trigger, or method by which a product is interacted with, is also flexible. Using UHF RFID tags in the supply chain for individual products, to 1D or 2D barcodes for in-store or at-home experiences/workflows all reference the same digital identity—using the best tool for the job at the right phase of a product’s life.

Now that we have all this data modeled in the cloud, how can we share it with other systems? GS1 has addressed that with standards around the Global Data Synchronization Network (GSDN) and Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS). We’re diving into those in the next blog post, so join us soon!

Author Andy Perrin (Director Product Marketing)

Since last week’s launch, the buzz surrounding Rebecca Minkoff’s new smart bags has been pretty phenomenal. Not just the coverage across the media (articles in Forbes, Women’s Wear Daily and a host of other publications) but the interest spurred among other apparel brands who are now also recognizing the massive potential of connected smart apparel and accessories – made possible thanks to our #BornDigtal partnership with Avery Dennison.

What makes this significant for the industry is the scale. It’s way beyond the limited prototypes unveiled in market over the last couple of years.  This is mainstream stuff, with hundreds of thousands handbags given a unique digital identity at point of manufacture, and then sent out into the big wide digital world.

Adding Digital Value to Physical Products 

These days it takes more than just great products to stand out.  So Rebecca Minkoff – an industry leader in luxury handbags and accessories – wanted to add a new digital layer to their latest range and transform the way consumers engage with the brand.   The value exchange is clear: Consumers get personalized experiences after scanning their bag, and the brand acquire new, direct customer relationships.

How Does it Work?

Boosting Digital Emotional Intelligence

This also opens up the ability for Rebecca Minkoff to create a closer emotional connection with consumers too, as highlighted in a new academic report we released last week on “Digital Emotional Intelligence” (DEQ).  Led by Dr. Philip Powell from the University of Sheffield, the research found that real-time digital interactions with smart products are crucial in unlocking the power of personalization. Put simply, it means brands can get to know consumers better, amplifying and responding to their emotions. In turn consumers feel more connected to the brand and feel a greater affinity.

CRM Data and Insights

Thousands of consumers interacting with products via their smartphones is a super-effective and low-cost way to acquire new customer data for CRM initiatives.

It also generates a wealth of new insights into consumer patterns and behaviors, informing future production and marketing campaigns. With visibility across all retail channels, and even after the consumer leaves the store, Rebecca Minkoff can blend the physical and digital worlds in a way their competitors can’t.

And there’s plenty more to come.  Next year, the brand will be leveraging geo-targeting in the platform to incorporate additional partners within the lifestyle, wellness and beauty realms.  Making smart bags even smarter!


Author Matt Shorts (VP Product)

Last week, we kicked off our GS1 blog series on and the IoT with a ‘beginners guide’.  Here we’re going to address some key questions we’ve had from brand owners and retailers about what ‘web-enabling’ GS1 identifiers actually means to them.

More than two million organizations globally use GS1 identifiers across a broad portfolio of use cases, from identifying physical locations to streamlining the physical retail checkout process to improving product information search and online commerce applications. GS1 identifiers are truly “The Global Language of Business.”

However, when implemented on a limited basis, their value proposition of providing a cohesive, cross-enterprise view is not realized, especially when the product in question moves beyond retail.  So for example; post-purchase, how do brands ensure continued consumer engagement with their brand and products using the same GS1 identifier? If a consumer scans a barcode once they leave the store, who controls the experience and the data presented about their products? The app owner? Amazon? (We’ve already talked about the challenges that Amazon presents and how it disintermediates brands from their customers.)

The answer is that brands can provide their own product information through web standards.  In communicating directly to consumers via the physical product, they can avoid disintermediation and can control the messaging about their products so it’s consistent and aligned with their brand.

While this may sound complex, brands actually already have everything they need to start the execution. GS1 identifiers are already the primary global product identification standard and are in broad use throughout supply chains and products. Internet of Things technologies and communication standards help the digital economy move faster than it ever has before. Combine those two things with the scalable platform from EVRYTHNG, and brands now have the foundation for a digital transformation strategy.

Let’s look at a product’s full lifecycle

Products are typically born analog, and don’t live connected lives like people or devices. They may have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), a unique numbering sequence, encoded in a data carrier that is often attached to them through a barcode at manufacturing facility that is identified with a Global Location Number (GLN). They can then be shipped off through the distribution network with various Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCC), passing through many different distributors and distribution center locations identified with more GLNs. Finally, they arrive at the store (with yet another GLN) and are purchased by consumers enabled by the GTIN encoded in the data carrier attached at the beginning of the journey. Products and their associated data change hands multiple times, resulting in unintended transformations or outright data loss. Brands may often be stuck playing “telephone” trying to make head or tail of the full supply chain and the product data itself even though their identifiers have been consistent the whole journey.

There are point-to-point solutions that address pieces of the data supply chain along the way, but most don’t easily unify or share data. However, if the identity of the product was digitally enabled as a web resource, using the Web of Things model, following physical products through their entire journey and layering on value-added data with each stop could be possible. This would give brands complete transparency in their supply chains and distribution networks, which means they can optimize, evaluate and react to events as they happen in near-real time.

Figure 1: A product with an Active Digital Identity on the EVRYTHNG platform can interact over the Web, making it linkable, discoverable, searchable and usable.

Extend your identifier’s life

It doesn’t stop there. When GTINs are web-enabled, consumers can more easily engage with them since brand-provided product information is made more available, and brands now completely control the experience. It’s not about someone looking up potentially inaccurate product information scraped from the web by a random product information app, but going to the expert that knows the most about your product: you. 

This unlocks all kinds of new opportunities:

  • Identifying and reducing counterfeit products
  • Locating and controlling gray market products
  • Sharing product, provenance and manufacturing information
  • Efficiently identifying and executing product recalls
  • Optimizing inventory positions
  • Delivering personalized consumer experiences
  • Enabling direct-to-consumer replenishment and purchasing
  • Rewarding loyalty or engagement
  • Helping support eco-conscious recycling/re-use

More to come!

We’ve only just waded into the shallow end at this point.  Next week, we’ll explore using GS1 Identifiers & SmartSearch with EVRYTHNG’s IoT Smart Products Platform.