Google and the BRC recently released data showing that the number of shoppers searching for items on smartphones rose by 79% in March, while searches on tablet computers were 199% higher and up 198% on the quarter.

In response to this, retailers continue to invest in websites and ‘omnichannel’ offers, making it easier than ever for consumers to access product information and compare prices online. Asda, for example, recently announced that it is to test a smartphone app that will enable customers to self-scan their groceries as they shop.

Of course, alongside the digital opportunity, this new industry battleground also brings an element of risk for retailers - particularly regarding ownership and accuracy of product data.

A study by GS1 UK and Cranfield School of Management revealed only 9% of product scans using third-party apps returned the correct product description, when compared with brand owners’ approved data, and 75% of scans returned no product information at all.

Ensuring accurate product data is no mean feat. Price, ingredients and nutritional value are a given, but consumers also increasingly look for dietary considerations, provenance, responsible sourcing, carbon footprint, celebrity advocacy and consumer reviews.

Retailers and brand owners need to ensure product attributes are consistently defined. In the online environment, missing key information used for product ID is the equivalent of being out-of-stock in a physical store.

GS1 is working with Open Mobile Alliance to enable barcode scanning features to be built directly into mobile devices. Our organisations will build a specification based on existing standards that mobile device manufacturers will be able to use from 2014. This will make it easier for app developers to integrate barcode scanning and link to trusted product information.

The rapid pace of digital and social media will continue to transform the way consumers think, behave and interact. Brand leaders of tomorrow will need to provide a seamless, integrated and trusted cross-channel purchasing experience, or risk losing out to others that do.

Gary Lynch is CEO of GS1 UK