Robert Carpenter, who became chief executive officer of GS1 US in April, is the first U.S.-based CEO of the standards organization since 2004. That year, when GS1 US was still known as the Uniform Code Council, Thomas Rittenhouse resigned as CEO and was succeeded by Miguel Lopera. Since then, Lopera has also served as CEO of GS1, the Brussels-based parent organization for GS1 US and 107 other country-based affiliates of GS1.
But now Lopera will focus entirely on his global role, leaving Carpenter in charge of the U.S. organization, which oversees everything from bar codes and electronic data interchange to data synchronization and the electronic product code.
Carpenter, who previously held executive positions at Aramark and Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, comes to GS1 US as the organization prepares for the launch of a new bar code, the GS1 DataBar, in the U.S. The DataBar, which is smaller yet contains more data than the conventional UPC bar code, is appearing on PLU stickers attached to a growing number of loose produce items, and is sharing coupon space with the UPC-A bar code.
On Jan. 1, 2010, retailers will be expected to scan and process the DataBar on loose produce; a year later, the same will be expected for coupons, which will then begin to display only DataBar bar codes, according to the Joint Industry Coupon Committee (JICC).
“The DataBar represents a tremendous opportunity,” said Carpenter. “It creates a vehicle to extend the benefits of automatic identification to the perimeter of the store.” In addition to produce, this could include departments like deli, flowers and bakery, he noted. On the coupon side, he sees the DataBar providing “powerful information back to manufacturers.”
GS1 US also oversees the electronic product code (EPC), an RFID-based identification technology that is even more powerful than the DataBar. But unlike the DataBar, the EPC has been slow to be adopted by U.S. retailers other than Wal-Mart Stores. “We would like to see EPC adoption take off ,” said Carpenter. In grocery, the adoption barrier is not so much cost as identifying business needs that EPC can address, such as improving delivery of promotional material and eliminating out-of-stocks.
Data synchronization, which GS1 US supports through its 1SYNC data pool, has been adopted by many manufacturers and food retailers, but has still not been actively pursued by some chains. In this case, the benefits of data synchronization — better data accuracy, improved product introductions, more productive trading partner discussions — have been well documented but need to be “better understood” by the industry, Carpenter said.
GS1 US is also developing a new-item-introduction Web portal in concert with several retailers, and will be supporting a “revised and updated version” of the Food Marketing Institute’s Recall Portal this fall, he said.
— Michael Garry