GS1 Japan joined GS1 (then EAN International) in 1978, and we have grown together ever since. In FY 2013, a record number of over 9,000 companies were allocated a GS1 Company Prefix, and the total number of member companies in Japan has now exceeded 130,000. The number of companies using the GS1 standard is steadily increasing, and we are grateful for the collaboration and contribution of the GS1 community.
While the Japanese economy appears to be overcoming deflation and heading for recovery, many issues still remain. In particular, the needs to promote digitization, handle increasing amounts of information and ensure safety and security in various industry sectors is affecting Japanese industry and posing a high challenge to the value chain. This is making adoption of the GS1 System increasingly necessary.
The development and spread of digitization is also having a major impact on the value chain. For example, online sales are growing rapidly. In fact, among the new GS1 Company Prefix licensees last year, over 10% indicated that they needed GTIN for the products they sell online. More retailers with conventional with brick-and-mortar stores are now engaged in Omni-Channel Retailing, which involves seamless integration of in-store and online sales. These changes will impact the GS1 System and its use, and GS1 Japan will actively undertake further initiatives to promote digital commerce.
The increased amount of information is having an impact on consumer behavior in particular. Compared to a decade ago, consumers gather a lot more information, and are making their purchasing decisions based on it. At the same time, there is increasing demand for more accurate information. Companies have been under pressure to respond to these changes and needs. GS1 Japan must also investigate the best options for database services and effective information exchange.
Consumers are greatly concerned about product safety and security, and many companies are working on this. Currently, they are still mainly in the stage of establishing and managing in-house product safety and traceability. Some companies, however, are already expanding these efforts throughout their supply chains. GS1 Japan is working to promote implementation of GS1 System to help these efforts.
GS1 Japan will continue to respond to technical innovation, the evolution of company needs, and changes in consumer behavior. We intend to strengthen our efforts to promote adoption and widespread use of the GS1 System. We hope that member companies, GS1 MOs, and the GS1 Global Office will continue to achieve development, and we look forward to providing greater consumer satisfaction through GS1 standards.