shutterstock_15405121_GTIN blogGlobal Trade Item Number (GTIN) is a term applied to globally unique numbers allocated to products, locations, services and processes. There are unique GTIN numbers for individual supplier’s selling units, brands, case levels and inner pack levels. Each requires a unique GTIN to correctly identify product on its way to market. GTINs provide an accurate, efficient, and economical means for controlling the flow of product and data. In the case of locations, the GTIN is referred to as a Global Location Number or GLN.

GTINs have been known by many other acronyms, including:

APN – Australian Product Number

EAN – European Article Number

UPC – Universal Product Code

JAN – Japanese Article Number

TUN – Traded Unit Number

These all refer to the same thing and are now known as the Global Trade Item Number or GTIN. This numbering system is administered by GS1 globally and number allocations are issued in each country by the local GS1 organisation.

GTINs are commonly represented in the form of a barcode. Barcodes allow the receiver to automatically capture the information contained in the barcode by scanning and then decoding the GTIN to use this number to look up information such as product identification, description, price and quantity in a computer system.

GTINs are usually 8, 12, 13 or 14 digits. Typical FMCG products will have barcodes representing GTINs of 12 or 13 digits. Smaller products may have barcodes representing just 8 digits so that the product can accommodate a smaller barcode. For warehousing and distribution, 14 digit GTINs are usually allocated to cartons and pallets. This allows for the bigger barcodes necessary for auto-recognition by fixed scanners as goods are received and dispatched.

GTINs create a global language in the form of data standards. This in turn allows for data synchronisation between trading partners worldwide via datapools such as GS1net, the National Product Catalogue (NPC) for Healthcare, 1WorldSync or the DHBNC. The GTIN is an important key to improving supply chain efficiency for suppliers and for reducing errors, time to market and costly claims.