GTIN vs SSCC: Key Differences Explained


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Product identification plays a crucial role in supply chain efficiency, ensuring accurate tracking and inventory management. Two widely used identifiers, GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code), are often misunderstood, leading to confusion in their application.

This article will provide a brief overview of GTIN and SSCC, followed by a detailed comparison to help clarify their distinct roles and applications in the industry.

What is a GTIN?

A GTIN, or Global Trade Item Number, is a unique GS1 identification key used to identify trade items, including products and services, in both online listings and physical stores. These identification keys are globally recognised, ensuring consistent identification across different markets.   

GTINs come in various formats, including GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, and GTIN-14, each differing in length and regional usage. They are encoded in barcodes, such as UPC (Universal Product Code) and EAN (European Article Number), allowing quick and accurate scanning via barcode scanners

Definition of GTIN
Definition of SSCC

What is an SSCC?

An SSCC, or Serial Shipping Container Code, is a unique GS1 identification key for logistics units, such as pallets, containers, and shipments. SSCCs facilitate seamless integration with electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, improving the accuracy of shipment tracking and inventory management

The SSCC is standardised and always contains 18 numeric digits. It is generally encoded in a GS1-128 barcode, which enables quick scanning and data capture. However, other formats, such as DataMatrix, QR code, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, can also be used.

SSCC vs GTIN - What’s The Difference?

Table of difference between SSCC and GTIN

The table below explains the primary differences between GTIN and SSCC. 

Identifies individual trade items (products and services)
Identifies logistics units (pallets, containers, shipments)
Various formats (GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, GTIN-14) with differing lengths
Standardised 18-digit numeric code
Used in retail, healthcare, and other industries for product identification and inventory management
Used in logistics and supply chain operations for tracking and managing the movement of goods
Barcode Encoding
Encoded in UPC and EAN
Typically encoded in GS1-128 barcode; can also use GS1 DataMatrix, GS1 QR Code, and RFID
Integration with Systems
Facilitates product identification and inventory systems
Enhances shipment tracking and integration with EDI systems
Data Content
Contains information specific to a product or service
Contains information specific to a logistics unit or shipment
Usage Frequency
Commonly used at the item level in retail and healthcare
Commonly used at the logistics unit level in supply chain operations

Similarities Between GTIN and SSCC

Six similarities between SSCC and GTIN

Despite their different purposes, GTIN and SSCC share several similarities that make them essential components of effective supply chain management. These similarities are. 

  • Part of the GS1 System: Both GTIN and SSCC are standardised and managed by GS1, ensuring global recognition and consistency.
  • Unique Identification: They provide unique identifiers for trade items (GTIN) and logistics units (SSCC), ensuring each item or unit can be distinctly recognised.
  • Check Digit: Both identifiers include a check digit to ensure data accuracy and integrity.
  • Barcode Encoding: GTIN and SSCC can be encoded in various barcode formats, allowing for quick and accurate scanning.
  • Integration with Systems: They facilitate seamless integration with electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, enhancing supply chain operations.
  • Traceability and Automation: Both identifiers help improve traceability and enable automation in inventory management and logistics processes.


In summary, GTIN and SSCC are both vital GS1 identification keys that serve distinct but complementary roles in the supply chain. 

GTINs are designed to identify individual trade items, making them essential for product identification and inventory management across various industries such as retail and healthcare. SSCCs, on the other hand, are used to identify logistics units like pallets and containers, facilitating efficient tracking and management of goods throughout the supply chain. 

We hope this article has provided valuable insights into the differences between GTIN and SSCC. 

Thank you for reading! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should the GTIN Be Included in the SSCC Label?

Yes, including the GTIN in the SSCC label can provide additional product identification information. This combination enhances traceability and improves inventory management by linking individual product details with the logistics unit.

Can GTIN and SSCC Be Used Together?

Yes, GTIN and SSCC can be used together. GTINs identify individual products, while SSCCs identify logistics units. Using both enhances tracking and management across different levels of the supply chain.

Is SSCC Mandatory for All Shipments?

No, SSCC is not mandatory for all shipments. However, it is highly recommended for efficient tracking and management, especially in complex logistics and supply chain operations.

How Often Should GTINs Be Updated?

GTINs should be updated whenever there is a significant change in the product that affects its identification, such as changes in size, weight, or formulation. Regular updates ensure accurate tracking and inventory management.

Can an SSCC or GTIN Be Reused?

No, SSCCs and GTINs can not be reused. Each identifier is unique and designed to provide precise identification. Reusing them can lead to errors and inefficiencies in tracking and inventory management.

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