GS1 and VICS to Merge

The Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association will become part of the bar-code and RFID standards body.
Published: September 10, 2012

GS1 US and the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS) Association announced today that they are merging their operations (see GS1 US, Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association to Merge). GS1 (formerly the Uniform Code Council in the United States) stabled the Universal Product Code (UPC) standard for bar codes and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) standard for radio frequency identification. VICS is less well-known, but has been playing an important role in taking friction out of global supply chains.

VICS was established in 1986, as companies were struggling with how to improve their supply chain operations and reduce out-of-stocks. Led by Joe Andraski, VICS’ president and CEO, the organization pioneered the implementation of a cross-industry standard, known as Quick Response (QR), that simplified the flow of product and information in the retail industry for retailers and suppliers alike. It then pioneered the concept of Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR), a set of best practices designed to allow trading partners to mange inventory cooperatively through shared visibility of products within their shared supply chain.

I got involved with VICS through its innovative VICS Item Level RFID Initiative (VILRI), which brought together retailers, suppliers and RFID technology providers to develop best practices around how GS1 standards are implemented by retailers and their suppliers (see Major Retailers, Industry Groups Launch Item-Level RFID Guidelines Initiative, VICS Item Level RFID Initiative Enters Phase II and Item-Level RFID Initiative Could Be a Game Changer). The organization has made great strides in moving the industry together collaboratively, and in raising awareness of the benefits of deploying RFID in retail and within the supply chain.

VICS and GS1 report that the merger is designed to streamline the standards-adoption process for industry, and to offer the not-for-profit organizations’ members access to standards for a broader range of supply chain functions. The integration process is currently under way, and the two organizations expect to enter into a definitive agreement during the fourth quarter of 2012.

“This is a logical next step in the growth of both organizations, especially considering the synergies between the member communities of VICS and GS1 US,” Andraski says. “Our members will be well served by the global reach of the GS1 organization, particularly as they adopt EPC-enabled RFID. And existing VICS activities will be rolled into the new integrated structure, providing continuity.”

According to GS1 US, VILRI will reside in its Apparel and General Merchandise group, opening the door for cross-industry synergies and providing expanded resources, technical expertise and global reach. The merger will also provide a venue for the continued development, sponsorship and functioning of various VICS workgroups and committees, which address such industry issues as floor-ready merchandise, logistics, product images and the use of EPC RFID technologies.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.