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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Digital Watermarking? What are the benefits of Digital Watermarking in general and Digimarc’s specific offering?
2. Why is accurate product identification so important?
3. How do I get started with GS1 US Mobile Scan?
4. Is there a cost associated with GS1 US Mobile Scan? If so, what does the pricing structure look like?
5. Is there special printing involved to create a GS1 US Mobile Scan-enabled product?
6. How does a GS1 US Mobile Scan-enabled product compare to a product with a QR Code?
7. Will retailers be required to make a new technology investment to scan GS1 Mobile Scan-enabled packages?
8. Is GS1 US Mobile Scan becoming a new standard?
9. What is the Experience URL?
10. Why is GS1 US collaborating with Digimarc?


1. What is Digital Watermarking? What are the benefits of Digital Watermarking in general and Digimarc’s specific offering?

Digital Watermarking allows any printed material—most often product packaging—to be encoded with a watermark barcode across the entire surface of the package, such that it is virtually invisible to the untrained human eye while still being very easy to read by an enabled point-of-sale scanner or mobile phone camera. Digimarc is a major patent holder in the market and has a system built around its core Digital Watermarking capability. The result is improved product identification, increased speed at checkout, unprecedented reliability, and ease of use when identifying products in aisle, at home, and at point of sale. It goes beyond existing barcode technology by making any product package a gateway to a much richer digital experience—all without visibly impacting the packaging aesthetics. We believe GS1 US Mobile Scan, which utilizes the DWCode, has the power to boost brand loyalty by increasing consumer engagement, speeding checkout for shoppers, and even improving inventory tracking. As a result, we foresee that retailers and brands will increasingly embrace GS1 US Mobile Scan for more extensive marketing campaigns and better customer engagement while bringing significant improvements to traditional supply chain uses.

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2. Why is accurate product identification so important?

Current methods of electronic identification work well for point-of-sale systems, but often have high error rates when used for product information lookup, leading to misinformation and missed opportunities. Consequently, consumers are often not able to access the level and quality of product information they desire. This is especially true for electronic and mobile commerce (e/mCommerce), as well as in-store shopping enhanced via smartphones. As smartphone and tablet shopping rapidly becomes the new normal, GS1 US Mobile Scan creates the next step in product identification and information transparency, enabling our members to meet the needs of today’s mobile-centric consumer.

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3. How do I get started with GS1 US Mobile Scan?

The first step is to obtain a GS1 Company Prefix and a GTIN, which is a unique identification number that is necessary for commerce. Next, sign up for a GS1 US Mobile Scan account to gain access to the DWCode portal. Once you’ve enabled your GTIN for a DWCode in the portal, you will work with your third-party packaging enhancement partners to prepare the press-ready artwork for your product’s packaging.

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4. Is there a cost associated with GS1 US Mobile Scan? If so, what does the pricing structure look like?

Yes. There is a $50 annual license fee per DWCode, plus the Certified Solution Partner fees for embedding the DWCode into your package. For specific pricing details, contact your Certified Solution Partner.

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5. Is there special printing involved to create a GS1 US Mobile Scan-enabled product?

There is no special printing or ink involved, however, there are design layout and packaging considerations that must be taken into account. Digimarc’s current channel partners offer services to the industry to handle these considerations to achieve the right balance between quick scanning, branding, and packaging design.

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6. How does a GS1 US Mobile Scan-enabled product compare to a product with a QR Code?

GS1 US Mobile Scan utilizes a nearly imperceptible barcode called the DWCode, whereas QR Codes are visible and take up valuable packaging space. Unlike a QR Code, GS1 US Mobile Scan requires brand owners to complete a number of specific product data fields at the time of code creation, which are passed on to the consumer when scanned. Also, QR Codes must be properly positioned to be read, while GS1 US Mobile Scan-enabled packages do not require any specific alignment of the scanner or smartphone camera. Lastly, GS1 US Mobile Scan links to a dynamic URL that can be changed at any time by the brand owner or retailer without affecting packaging, which is not possible with a QR Code.

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7. Will retailers be required to make a new technology investment to scan GS1 Mobile Scan-enabled packages?

If they have not already done so for a variety of reasons, retailers will be required to install image-based scanner technology. Today, most of the leading point-of-sale technology vendors offer these scanners or upgrades to industry.

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8. Is GS1 US Mobile Scan becoming a new standard?

No. The use of this technology is not intended to result in the creation of a new standard. Instead, GS1 US Mobile Scan will use this technology to leverage and expand the infrastructure that delivers on GS1’s existing product identification standards. We anticipate that GS1 US Mobile Scan will complement, and not replace, the existing barcode used over 5 billion times per day.

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9. What is the Experience URL?

The Experience URL is a mobile-optimized web address that users will view upon scanning a GS1 US Mobile Scan-enabled package with their mobile device. Brand owners may create a webpage for consumers with timely brand-authorized product information, including marketing, pricing, special offers and coupons, product attributes, instructional videos, rich media, and additional shopping assistance. If a URL is not provided in the DWCode portal for that product (GTIN®), then a webpage constructed from the product data entered in the portal will be displayed.

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10. Why is GS1 US collaborating with Digimarc?

GS1 US has been an innovator since the introduction of the barcode over 40 years ago. It has continued that heritage over the years through the introduction of numerous product identification and tracking technologies.

GS1 US collaborated with Digimarc, a pioneering technology company, to offer the GS1 US Mobile Scan solution. This solution leverages a nearly imperceptible barcode called the DWCode that, when scanned with a smartphone app, delivers contextual product information provided by the brand owner. This enables trading partners to realize business benefits such as faster retail checkout and improved supply chain efficiency, while consumers enjoy an engaging, interactive experience.

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For more information, contact mobilescan@gs1us.org.