SMEs move to online marketplaces to drive future growth, finds GS1 UK

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Bar codes assisting SMEs with supply chain efficiency

Bar codes assisting SMEs with supply chain efficiency

A growing UK internet economy has boosted the membership of the supply chain standards and solutions organisation, GS1 UK to over 25,000.

GS1 UK said its members include retailers of all sizes, from small start-ups to the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Rakuten’s Play.com and Asda, all of whom benefit from a standardised approach to bar codes and product identification, which enable easy integration across the supply chain.

Latest figures from GS1 show recent growth in membership has been driven by new SME members adopting the GS1 System of bar codes to identify products being sold independently through online marketplaces. Online marketplaces have grown dramatically in scope and attractiveness for smaller players, said GS1. These large platforms offer smaller and independent retailers a route to market without the need to invest in their own online storefronts, allowing them to start selling quickly and competitively, it said. Online retail continues to grow in popularity – with ONS figures indicating  the online retail sector has grown by over 15%in the last year.

Craig Wheeler, operations director at Rakuten’s Play.com, said: “With the online retail sector growing in spite of the general economic downward trend in the UK, it’s no surprise more and more retailers are looking at digital channels to remain competitive. However, getting logistics right is an important issue for retailers, both large and small. Having an accurate and reliable set of bar codes for your products plays a big part in streamlining processes and helps us, and our independent partners, run more effectively and save on operational expenses.”

Online branded clothing store The Discounter was the 25,000th UK member to join the supply chain standards body and its founder, James Robinson, believes an efficient supply chain is integral to the success of his business.

“We buy excess stock from chain stores, where the quantities we buy allow us to offer up to 90% discounts to our customers. All our orders are sent within 24 hours, which means an efficient supply chain is crucial and bar codes are an important part of this. Using the GS1 standards will help us improve efficiency and grow the business further.”

Gary Lynch, CEO, GS1 UK, said: “The growth in our membership highlights a real shift towards online within the retail sector, with the emergence of a new breed of small companies and entrepreneurs that are driving the economy and creating an online retail success story.

“Start-ups are taking advantage of the low barriers to entry offered by the online marketplace and are investing in the software and tools needed to improve efficiency and maximise returns.”