Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)

Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCCs) is an instrumental in achieving this objective. This comprehensive guide will provide insights into the world of SSCCs, covering their structure, applications, and their role in ensuring smooth supply chain operations. GS1, the global organization responsible for the development and maintenance of supply chain standards, plays an important role in shaping today’s fast-paced world of supply chain management and logistics. In this dynamic landscape, the demand for effective tracking and traceability has never been more critical.

Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)


The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) plays a crucial role in supply chain management as it is a numeric identifier used for accurate container tracking. It boosts supply chain efficiency, enhances visibility and accuracy, enables organizations to monitor goods, optimize inventory, streamline orders, and improve product authentication and recall management.

What Is an SSCC?

The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) serves as an 18-digit GS1 Identification Key utilized for identifying a logistic unit. Unlike the GTIN, the SSCC functions as a license plate for tracking a shipment of logistics units throughout the supply chain. It represents a valuable tool for enhancing supply chain efficiency and visibility.

Who Uses It?

The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)  can be used by companies to identify a logistic unit, which can be any combination of trade items packaged together for storage and/or transport purposes, for example a case, pallet, or parcel.

The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) actively serves various industries to finely tune and optimize their supply chain processes. Below are the industries actively utilizing the SSCC for the following purposes:

  1. Retailers: They use SSCCs to monitor shipments from suppliers to stores, ensuring the correct receipt of goods in proper quantities while preventing loss or damage during transit.
  1. Logistics Providers/ or any party that compiles the shipment: They use and assign the SSCCs to oversee goods shipments on behalf of their customers, guaranteeing timely and undamaged deliveries.
  1. Manufacturers: They use SSCCs to track shipments from factories to distributors, thereby enhancing production and shipping efficiency.
  1. Government Agencies: They use SSCCs in a variety of ways to monitor shipments of regulated items, such as food, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, ensuring safety and compliance with regulatory standards.
  1. Transportation Companies: They heavily rely on SSCCs as a critical tracking system to monitor and safeguard goods loaded onto their vehicles, effectively reducing the likelihood of loss or damage occurring throughout the transportation process.

An SSCC is made up of the following components:

  • Extension Digit: The extension digit allows for differentiation between multiple SSCCs assigned by the same manufacturer. This can be a number from 0-9.
  • GS1 Company Prefix: This segment identifies the manufacturer or entity responsible for assigning the SSCC.
  • Serial Reference: This portion is a unique serial number assigned to each shipping container, ensuring uniqueness.
  • Check Digit: The check digit serves as a mathematical checksum, validating the accuracy of the entire SSCC.

How to Generate an SSCC

  1. To generate an SSCC, a company needs to begin by licensing a GS1 Company Prefix. The GS1 Company Prefix is a unique numerical identifier licensed to every company upon joining GS1.
  2. Once a company has a GS1 Company Prefix, it can generate unique SSCCs for all its shipping containers. To do so, the company is required to create a distinctive serial number for each container within a range of 0 to 99,999,999.
  3. Calculate the check digit. The check digit is a single digit that ensures the data within the SSCC has been composed correctly. It is calculated based on the GS1 Company Prefix, extension digit, and serial number. GS1 provides a formula for calculating the check digit, which you can implement using a simple algorithm. After generating the serial number and the check digit, combine it with its GS1 Company Prefix, forming the complete SSCC.
  4. The next step is to encode it in a machine-readable format, such as a barcode or RFID tag. The most common data carriers are GS1-128 barcodes and Electronic Product Code (EPC) for RFID applications.
  5. Upon generating, assigning, and affixing the SSCCs in a data carrier or RFID tag to a shipping container, it becomes a valuable tool for tracking the container’s journey throughout the supply chain. At various stages, from the warehouse to the retail store, SSCC barcodes are scanned to ensure accurate and timely delivery to the correct destination.
  6. Integrate the SSCCs into your logistics and inventory management systems. Ensure that it is associated with the corresponding shipping container or logistics unit. This allows you to track and trace goods efficiently throughout the supply chain.

The Structure of a SSCC

Let’s break down an example SSCC to illustrate its structure:

SSCC Example:

(00) 012345678912345678

Application Identifier (AI)Extension DigitGS1 Company PrefixSerial ReferenceCheck Digit

Please take note that an SSCC consists of 18 digits, which includes the Check Digit. The combination of the Extension Digit, GS1 Company Prefix, and Serial Reference will always be a total of 17 digits. The 18th digit will be the end check-digit.

Capturing SSCC

The capability to track an SSCC is essential for effective supply chain management. When SSCC data is shared electronically via EDI or EPCIS, this enables companies to share information about the status of logistic units in transit, and reliably link it to related transport information such as shipment details. Numerous methods and technologies are accessible for capturing this identification key:

●  Barcode Scanning: SSCCs can be encoded into barcodes, which are then scanned at various points along the supply chain. This real-time data capture ensures accurate tracking.

RFID Technology: RFID tags can be affixed to shipping containers, allowing for wireless and automated tracking ensuring the logistic unit can be accurately and easily identified as it travels between trading partners, anywhere in the world.

GPS and Geofencing: In certain instances, SSCCs are monitored using GPS technology and geofencing. This approach proves especially valuable for tracking container movement during transportation.

Benefits of Using GS1 Standards

GS1 Standards are essential for the existence of SSCCs. GS1, a global organization, develops and maintains standards for identifying products, services, and locations. Each company using GS1 standards receives a unique 9-digit number known as the GS1 Company Prefix, which serves to identify the company assigning the SSCC.

  1. Global Uniqueness: Use of a unique GS1 Company Prefix prevents duplicate identification numbers. This ensures that all SSCCs generated are one-of-a-kind.
  2. Interoperability: These globally used standards promote compatibility across the supply chain, ensuring SSCCs are accepted by various stakeholders worldwide, from manufacturers to retailers.
  3. Structure and Format: GS1 Standards define SSCC components, and format, as follows: GS1 Company Prefix, extension digit, serial number, and check digit. This standardization guarantees consistency across different systems.
  4. Capture Standards: GS1 Standards provide consistency for creating data carriers that encode SSCCs in machine-readable formats like barcodes (e.g., GS1-128). This ensures reliable data capture and interpretation by scanning devices, enabling efficient tracking and tracing.
  5. Compliance: Many industries and retailers mandate GS1 Standards for SSCC generation from their suppliers. Compliance is often a prerequisite to do business, ensuring uniformity in supply chain operations.
  6. Traceability: GS1 Standards enhance traceability by offering a standardized means to identify and track logistics units. With unique SSCCs, businesses can trace logistic units throughout the supply chain, improving visibility and accountability.

Benefits of Using Standardized Methods for SSCC Creation.

Standardized methods for SSCC creation offer a number of benefits, including:

Enhanced Efficiency and Accuracy: Standardized methods streamline the SSCC creation process, boosting efficiency and accuracy. This, in turn, can reduce costs and enhance customer satisfaction.

Enhanced Interoperability: Standardized SSCCs enhance compatibility with a wide range of supply chain systems. This increased compatibility simplifies the exchange of data with trading partners, leading to substantial improvements in overall supply chain efficiency.

Error Reduction: Standardized methods minimize the risk of errors during SSCC creation. The standardized process leaves less room for human interpretation and mistakes.

Cost Reduction: Through improved efficiency, accuracy, visibility, and traceability, standardized SSCCs contribute to lowering overall supply chain costs.

Businesses have experienced tangible benefits from standardized SSCC methods, including:

● A major retailer reduced SSCC processing time by 50% through standardized processes.

● A food and beverage manufacturer enhanced its food safety record by using standardized SSCCs for tracking products.

● A pharmaceutical company minimized the risk of medication errors by implementing standardized SSCCs for product identification and tracking.

Benefits of using SSCCs

SSCCs offer a range of benefits across different aspects of supply chain management, including inventory tracking, order fulfillment, product authentication, and recall management. Here, we explore these applications and provide real-world examples of how businesses leverage SSCCs to enhance their operations:

1. Inventory Tracking:

Benefits: SSCC enables precise tracking and management of inventory items throughout the supply chain, enhancing visibility and reducing errors.

Example: A multinational electronics manufacturer uses SSCCs to monitor the movement of components from multiple suppliers to its assembly plants. This real-time tracking ensures that the right components are available when needed, minimizing production delays.

2. Order Fulfillment:

Benefits: SSCCs facilitate accurate order picking and shipment verification, reducing order errors and improving customer satisfaction.

Example: An e-commerce giant employs SSCCs for efficient order fulfillment in its distribution centers. These codes help ensure that the correct products are picked, packed, and shipped to customers, leading to fewer shipping errors and returns.

3. Product Authentication:

Benefits: SSCCs can be used to authenticate the origin and authenticity of products, particularly valuable in industries prone to counterfeiting.

Example: A high-end fashion brand embeds SSCCs in its clothing labels. Shoppers can scan these codes with their smartphones to verify the authenticity of the product, helping combat counterfeit products in the market.

4. Recall Management:

Benefits: In the event of a product recall, SSCCs enable swift and accurate identification of affected items, allowing for targeted recalls and reducing recall-related costs.

Example: A food manufacturer uses SSCCs to trace the source of contaminated ingredients quickly. When a contamination issue arises, the company can pinpoint affected batches, limiting the scope of the recall and protecting its brand reputation.

5. Supply Chain Transparency:

Benefits: SSCCs contribute to transparency by providing a standardized identification method that all supply chain partners can understand and use.

Example: A pharmaceutical company working on a global scale uses SSCCs to track medication shipments. This transparency helps ensure that medications reach patients safely and can be easily traced back to their sources in case of quality concerns.

6. Vendor Compliance:

Benefits: SSCCs can be a requirement for doing business with major retailers and partners, promoting vendor compliance with industry standards.

Example: A beverage distributor follows SSCC standards to supply products to a large supermarket chain. Compliance with SSCC requirements allows them to maintain a valuable partnership and access a broader market.

Real-World Examples of How Businesses Use SSCCs to Improve Their Operations:

Prominent companies like Walmart, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, and Nestlé have effectively integrated SSCC into their supply chains.

Walmart: Uses SSCCs for precise product tracking, enhancing inventory management, reducing losses, and expediting recalls, ultimately ensuring product quality and trust.

Amazon: The world’s largest e-commerce platform, Amazon, leverages SSCCs to automate its order fulfillment procedures. This strategic use of SSCCs significantly enhances the efficiency and accuracy of Amazon’s order processing operations. Customers benefit from more reliable order fulfillment, leading to higher satisfaction rates.

Johnson & Johnson: Utilizes SSCCs to authenticate products and combat counterfeits, safeguarding brand integrity and customer safety by allowing consumers to verify product authenticity.

Nestlé: Enhances product recall management through SSCCs, quickly pinpointing affected items during recalls, ensuring consumer safety, and minimizing financial impact.

These industry leaders highlight the diverse applications and advantages of SSCCs in modern supply chain management, emphasizing the role of standardized identification codes in achieving operational excellence and product safety.


In summary, SSCCs deliver a multitude of advantages, spanning enhanced traceability, operational efficiency, heightened security, and elevated customer satisfaction. They assume a pivotal role in contemporary supply chain and logistics management, empowering businesses to operate with greater effectiveness in a global marketplace.

Resources for Learning More About SSCC


GS1 US is the authoritative body responsible for the development and upkeep of global GS1 Standards, which encompass the SSCC. The GS1 US website serves as a valuable resource, offering comprehensive information regarding SSCCs, encompassing definitions, guidelines, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

GS1 Global SSCC Guidelines

The GS1 Global SSCC Guidelines document offers comprehensive guidance on the creation and utilization of SSCC.

GS1 FAQs by the Pharma Industry

An invaluable resource for pharmaceutical businesses seeking to enhance their supply chain operations through a deeper understanding of GS1 Standards and their practical implementation.

GS1-128 (for barcodes)

This can be used to track and trace products throughout the supply chain