Buying UPC Codes for Apparel

By Erik Quisling (The Barcode Guru)

A very common question we are asked every day is “How many barcodes do I need for my apparel products?”  

Specifically, customers want to know if they need to have a unique barcode for every different style and size of the clothes they are selling.

In short, the answer is YES.

Barcodes are used primarily for inventory tracking.  Therefore, if one size and style of an item is selling faster than another size and style, the barcode lets the retailer know which item needs to be replenished without them having to count everything out on the shelves.  Instead, they can simply look in their computer to know what is running low and needs to be re-ordered.

For example, say you are selling socks.  You have 2 different designs that come in 3 different sizes.  This means you will need a total of 6 barcodes (2 x 3 = 6.)  That 4th grade math finally comes in handy!  Now let’s say you have expanded your line to have 6 different styles that come in 5 different sizes.  Now you would need a total of 30 different barcodes!

One of our clients,, are the biggest seller of compression sports socks in the world.  They literally have hundreds of different styles that come in a wide variety of sizes.  The only way they can keep accurate count of what is coming in and going out is to have a different barcode on every style and size.   Literally, they use more than 1,000 different barcodes to keep their inventory organized.

Obviously, regardless of the type of product you are selling the formula is exactly the same.  Each different size, color, flavor, style, quantity, or whatever iteration you may have requires its own unique barcode.

So now the question becomes, where should I purchase barcodes for the products I am selling?

There are many places online selling dirt cheap barcodes and making claims about their legitimacy.  Unfortunately, nearly all of them are simply making up numbers, putting them into the standard UPC format and then claiming they are GS1 compliant.

The reality is that the barcodes sold by these companies are not at all guaranteed to be unique and will NOT work at – the one place nearly everybody needs to be selling their products!

There are THREE places, however, that do sell barcodes that are guaranteed to be unique and work for all aspects of Amazon.  The first is GS1.   GS1 created the entire barcoding system and is where all barcodes need to originate from.  If all barcodes originated from GS1 then you would easily know what barcode numbers have been used and what barcode numbers have not been used.  However, the problem with buying your barcodes directly from GS1 is that they are incredibly expensive and charge huge annual renewal fees.  They also don’t provide the images of your barcodes.  They only give you a prefix number and then it is up to you to create the complete 12-digit numbers and get the images created.  Much of the time this process reduces their customers to tears and we hear about it every day!

The other two options for buying legitimate UPC barcodes is to purchase from either or their partner

Both of these companies have been lauded by The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and are recommended by Amazon.  They purchase all of their barcodes (millions of them) directly from GS1 and then sell them off in small quantities for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay at GS1.  They also don’t charge annual renewal fees.  You also receive the images of your barcodes within seconds of your purchase.


So why would anyone choose to buy barcodes directly from GS1?  There is only one reason.  GS1 is owned and operated by Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Kroger, and Federated Group.  These 5 stores (and ONLY these 5 stores) require a copy of the vendor’s GS1 receipt with the vendor’s name on it.,, nor anyone else, can provide that receipt.  Therefore, if you want to do business with Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Kroger, or the Federated Group, you have no choice but to purchase UPC barcodes directly from GS1.  If you are not planning on selling at these 5 stores, then it makes zero sense to go to GS1.

Thus, in 99% of all cases, the only real choice to buy legitimate GS1-registered UPC barcodes that work for Amazon and stores all over the world is either or  They are truly the only reputable sources other than GS1 where you can quickly and easily buy legitimate UPC barcodes.

Hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped to answer of your barcode questions!

For more answers to UPC barcode questions, please visit some of our other blogs:

How to get an Amazon Barcode

How many UPC Barcodes Do I need?

Who Created Barcodes?

Why Barcodes are used?

Are Barcodes and UPC Barcodes the same?

What is a Barcode?

What Type of Barcode do I need?

What is an EAN barcode?

What is GS1?

Are there alternatives to GS1?

Who issues UPC Barcodes?

Are all barcodes UPC?

Best Place to Buy UPC Barcodes

Buy Barcodes for Beer

Do’s and Don’ts for selling on Amazon

Understanding Barcodes

For the best sports compression socks in the world, please visit

Buy your barcodes with ALL necessary documents required by Amazon and other marketplaces.

We literally wrote the Book on Barcodes! Contains essential information about UPC barcodes and how to succeed on Amazon.

– Erik Quisling

Erik Quisling is the Founder and CEO of Started in 1999, has been featured in both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and has helped more than 100,000 businesses bring their products to market with barcodes.
UPC Barcodes
Amazon Barcodes
money back