Introduction To Retail Barcodes

Barcodes for Retail Products

  • Barcodes are used on retail products to help retailers. Barcodes are utilised for checkout scanning, stock tracking, and other purposes. While there are no legal mandates However, they do need to meet accepted retail industry standards.
  • There are three types of retail barcodes:
    • EAN13 – 13 digit globally unique barcodes used in most countries outside the USA and Canada – can be used on products worldwide.
    • EAN8 – a smaller globally unique barcode intended for VERY SMALL products – difficult to obtain and only available from GS1. GS1 is a membership organisation. – EAN8 barcodes are only 8-digits long – this means that there is a limited number of them, and hence GS1 guard them carefully. So to obtain these, you need to submit proof that your product is very small, and wait to see if GS1 approve this.
    • UPC (also called UPC-A) – 12 digit globally unique barcodes commonly used in the USA and Canada, but can be used on products worldwide.
  • Our EAN13 and UPC barcode numbers can be used for any retail product except for 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 legal retail barcodes (including ours) originate from the GS1 system. You can acquire your barcodes directly from GS1. Nevertheless, this approach only entails a licensing agreement, and you will generally need to accomplish lengthy membership forms, make payment for joining and annual renewal charges, and then await approval. On the other hand, you can buy genuine barcodes from a reputable barcode reselling firm like ours.
  • 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 own store). Barcode numbers need to be purchased or obtained through a license arrangement. Obtaining a barcode number from a licensee organisation is usually VERY expensive.
  • There is NO product information encoded in retail barcodes. Barcode numbers are unique numbers drawn from a large international database and allocated to the product. The bars of the barcode encode only the number displayed under them. Scanning barcodes provides a fast method for retailers to input product information and pricing into their computer systems. This allows for easy retrieval at checkout.
  • Your retailer has to manually connect your barcode number to your product details within their system. Upon receiving your product, the retailer will scan its barcode or type the barcode number into their computer system. They will also input additional product information, such as the product name, description, retail price, and supplier. Following this, the correct information will be displayed when the barcode is scanned at checkout. Major retailer chains will necessitate you to input this details onto a form, which will then be automatically entered into their computer system.
  • 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 three different products and each has five different colours, 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 the design of your product packaging. We supply the barcode images for printing on your product. If you have already printed your product packaging, then 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 initial digits of a barcode only indicate the country of origin. Our barcodes begin with 07, signifying that they come from the United States. 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 very small group of retailers have extra requirements that restrict barcodes. For details of barcode acceptance worldwide see /barcode-acceptance/
  • Our barcodes can be used in ALL countries, except possibly China. Some Chinese distributors require that the products they distribute bear a barcode number originating from GS1 in your country. They believe that the first few digits of a barcode number indicate the country of origin of the product, but this is a mistaken belief. This misconception can be expensive for manufacturers selling products in China as Chinese distributors may demand GS1 barcodes. Joining GS1 incurs significant costs, including membership and annual fees, as well as legal and debt recovery fees for overdue renewal payments.
  • 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 common 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 retail level, it should have a retail barcode on it (EAN13 or UPC) rather than an ITF-14 barcode, e.g. a case of wine 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.


QR Codes

  • QR codes are square barcodes that look a bit like a maze.
  • QR codes can be used to link to a website URL or to contain information.
  • QR codes can be used on retail products, BUT the product will ALSO need a retail barcode on it. The retail barcode is scanned by the retailer for pricing etc. at the checkout.

Barcodes Images

  • Barcodes can be created with many different encoding formats.
    • Some of these formats are suitable for retail products and books/magazines (EAN13, UPC-A, EAN8)
    • Some of these formats are useful for cartons (ITF-14 barcodes)
    • Some of these formats are useful for tracking pallets or shipping containers
    • Some of these formats are used for stock tracking and inventory purposes (e.g. for library books or asset labelling)
    • Some are two dimensional e.g. QR codes and contain information or links to website URLs
  • We can create barcodes in all of these formats