Introduction To Barcodes

  • Barcodes are used on retail products to help retailers. They are used for scanning at the checkout, stock tracking, etc. There are no legal requirements for retail barcodes. However, they do need to meet accepted retail industry standards.
  • There are 3 types of retail barcodes:
    • EAN13 – 13 digit globally unique barcodes used in most countries outside the USA and Canada – can be used worldwide.
    • EAN8 – a smaller globally unique barcode intended for VERY SMALL products – difficult to obtain and only available from GS1. GS1 is a membership organization. – EAN8 barcodes are only 8 digits long – this means that there is a limited number of them. Hence GS1 guards them carefully. So to obtain these, you need to submit proof that your product is minimal and wait to see if GS1 approves this.
    • UPC (also called UPC-A) – 12 digit globally unique barcodes commonly used in the USA and Canada, can be used on products worldwide.
  • Our EAN13 and UPC barcode numbers can be used for any retail product except books & magazines.
  • Books require an ISBN, which is turned into an ISBN barcode (in EAN13 format).
  • Magazines require an ISSN number, which is turned into an ISSN barcode (in EAN13 format).
  • All standard retail barcodes (including ours) originate from the GS1 system. You can obtain your barcodes directly from GS1. However, this is ONLY a licensing arrangement. You will typically be required to complete multi-page membership forms, pay joining fees and annual renewal fees, and then wait for approval. Alternatively, you can purchase your barcodes from a genuine barcode reseller company, such as ourselves.
  • Retail barcode numbers are globally unique numbers and are protected. You can’t just make up barcode numbers to use (unless you are ONLY selling your products within your store). Barcode numbers need to be purchased or obtained through a license arrangement. Getting a barcode number from a licensee organization is usually VERY expensive.
  • There is NO product information encoded in retail barcodes. Barcode numbers are purely unique numbers, effectively drawn from an extensive international database and allocated to you. The bars of the barcode ONLY encode the number shown under the bars. Scanning the bars is just a quick way to enter the barcode number into a retailer’s computer system so that the product information, pricing, etc., show up at the checkout.
  • Your retailer has to manually connect your barcode number to your product details within their system. When a retailer first receives your product, they will scan the barcode or type the barcode number into their computer system. They will also enter other product information, e.g., product name, description, retail price, supplier, etc. After this, when the barcode is scanned at the checkout, the correct information will be displayed. Larger retailer chains will require you to enter all this information onto a form, which is then entered into their computer system automatically.
  • A different barcode number is needed for each unique product – and then you can sell thousands or millions of the same product with the same barcode number on it. For example, if you have 3 different products and each has 5 different colors (variants), you will need 3 x 5 = 15 barcodes.
  • The best way to get a barcode onto your product is to incorporate the barcode image into your product packaging design. We supply the barcode images for printing on your product. If you have already printed your product packaging, you can add a barcode using a separate sticky label.
  • Barcode numbers say NOTHING about the country of origin of the product or the company. The first few digits of a barcode number ONLY show the country of origin of the BARCODE NUMBER. Our numbers start with 07, which indicates the NUMBER comes from the USA. We have thousands of customers using tens of thousands of our barcodes in 100+ countries without any problems.
  • Our barcodes can be scanned by ALL retailers WORLDWIDE. However, a tiny group of retailers has additional requirements that restrict barcodes. For details of barcode acceptance worldwide, see Barcode Acceptance.
  • Our barcodes can be used in ALL countries, except possibly in China. Some Chinese distributors insist that their products have a barcode number that originates from GS1 in your country. This is because they incorrectly believe that the first few digits of a barcode number show the country of origin of the product. This isn’t true. Yes, this unfortunate mistaken view can be very costly for some manufacturers who want to sell their products in China, as these Chinese distributors pressure the manufacturer to get GS1 barcodes – joining GS1 is time-consuming and expensive, with joining fees and annual fees, plus lawyers and debt collectors if you don’t pay your renewal fees.
  • Retail barcodes do not need to be registered; however, you can register them if you want to. If you purchase retail barcodes (EAN or UPC) from our company, you will be able to register your barcode numbers & product details for free on the International Barcodes Database.


Barcodes for Cartons

  • Barcodes can be used for cartons containing retail products. These cartons are used for shipping and storage.
  • ITF-14 barcodes are the standard barcodes for cartons.
    • These are 14 digit numbers based on the barcode number of the retail product inside the carton.
    • These are ONLY for cartons for shipping and storage. If the carton is being sold at the retail level, it should have a retail barcode on it (EAN13 or UPC) rather than an ITF-14 barcode, e.g., a case of beverages carton can be bought as a single unit by a customer, so would need a retail barcode (EAN13 or UPC).
    • These barcodes are larger than retail barcodes and should have a heavy horizontal line top and bottom.


Barcodes Images

  • Barcodes can be created with many different encoding formats.
    • A few of these formats are suitable for retail products and books/magazines (EAN13, UPC-A, EAN8)
    • Some are useful for cartons (ITF-14 barcodes)
    • While few formats are useful for tracking pallets or shipping containers
    • And other formats are used for stock tracking and inventory purposes (e.g., for library books or asset labeling)
  • We can create barcodes in all of these formats.


Yet need further assistance, feel free to talk to us.