IKEA adopts GS1 standards
by Bo Raattamaa (bo.raattamaa@gs1.se)

During the autumn of 2007, all of furniture giant IKEA’s warehouses worldwide and their 400 largest suppliers will start to use GS1’s system of barcodes and SSCCs. The next step will be to implement the system for all IKEA stores. IKEA is also studying the possibilities and advantages of implementing RFID.
Before the summer, IKEA wound up a pilot project which showed that the GS1 system quickly improves traceability, exception handling, and product quality.
“The introduction of the system reduces costs considerably. This means both lower prices and higher product quality for IKEA’s customers. This trend will continue when we introduce RFID,” says Jan Ståhl, business developer at Supply Chain Development IKEA of Sweden.
In April 2004, IKEA commenced a study of which systems and methods were being used for traceability in the group and how these could be improved. In general, the situation was that goods could not be traced at pallet level outside an individual IKEA warehouse, but only at truck level. As the deliveries arrived from the supplier, they were logged at the incoming goods dock. The pallets were given unique numbers by each individual warehouse. However, if a pallet was sent from one IKEA warehouse to another, it needed to be re-registered, a very time consuming process.
"We concluded that the structure for traceability and identification of products was too fragmented,” says Jan Ståhl. "It was obvious that we needed to introduce a better and standardized structure."
IKEA decided to invest in the GS1 system and it’s package number SSCC. This consists of 18 digits and is bar-coded using GS1-128. Using this key a package can be uniquely identified by everybody involved: suppliers, transporters, and, in this case, IKEA’s warehouses and stores.
The system was used in the pilot project for IKEA’s warehouses in Älmhult and Torsvik together with their three largest suppliers. The system...