The Role of Barcodes in the Global Supply Chain

It isn’t a stretch to say that the UPC barcode has been one of the integral keys to businesses globalizing throughout the past few decades. Supply chains before the UPC barcode were far less streamlined. They required far more work by many more people to ensure that the right products found their way to the right places.

Nowadays, UPC barcodes are everywhere in the supply chain and make things easier for practically every step involved. Try to imagine how massive companies that sell thousands (or more) of products could categorize and deliver on that many different items without a standardized way to identify them all. Without UPC barcodes, today’s supply chain would be far more chaotic and far less efficient.

Maybe you’re a business that needs to get its own UPC barcodes for its products. Maybe you’re just interested in how something so simple can have such a huge impact on the world. Regardless, we’ll go over the role of barcodes in the global supply chain. Though they play many roles, there are some key elements of the supply chain that simply would not work without these barcodes being in place.


Improving Inventory Management

A huge part of any business’s supply chain isn’t even about delivering products to customers. Simply categorizing products correctly and sorting them into different places so you know where they are takes place before they can make their way to a customer.

UPC barcodes allow scanning technology to pull up a ton of useful information about every kind of product that has one. They identify what the product is in a split second. They can also bring up crucial information such as safe shipping practices, packaging needs, where that product needs to be stored, and far more. Having this information all in one place makes inventory management a breeze compared to having to find all this information yourself.


Facilitating Easier Tracking

Tracking packages as they make their way to stores or customers’ homes is something that businesses need to be able to do. Tracking a package isn’t just a convenience for customers. It also allows businesses to find issues in their supply chain and shipping processes, as well as find products that might otherwise get lost completely.

Through the use of UPC barcodes, you give that product an identification that allows you to find it much easier. You can use it to track the number of products sold so you know how much to buy for future production. You might also want to confirm when products reach customers’ homes. Also consider that your UPC barcode gives your product authenticity, making it easier to spot counterfeits and root them out of your supply chain.


Reducing Strain on Workers

A key role of barcodes in the global supply chain they took on almost immediately was reducing the hours and labor that actual people needed to do. Implementing new data, finding the right products, packaging and shipping them correctly—all of these things used to be done manually. People would have to find this information from disparate sources.

The introduction of UPC barcodes greatly reduced the amount of work that workers needed to do to identify and prepare the correct products for processing and shipping. The drastic reduction in the paperwork necessary for every item alone is enough to cement the UPC barcode as one of the most useful creations in global supply chain history.


Removing Human Error

No matter what kind of company you are or what products you sell, there is a human element to any company. While this is useful in many places, the supply chain works best when the chance of an error happening is as close to zero as possible. Humans are imperfect, and we make mistakes, but UPC barcodes and scanning technology regularly prevent these errors from taking place.

Once specific information becomes connected to a barcode, human workers can use that information as a guide to reduce the chances of making a mistake. The fewer errors we make as humans, the smoother the supply chain flows, giving customers the products they need quickly and causing fewer headaches for the company supplying them.


Standardizing Processes

UPC barcodes further increase efficiency by providing a simple, standardized process for each product that needs to go out. Without UPC barcodes allowing for quick and easy identification, every product or package needs to be inspected and recognized before we can understand what to do with it.

The presence of UPC barcodes means that the information for processing specific products is readily available in one place that’s simple to get to. There’s no extra brain power needed when adding new products or finding specific ones because we know that all their information will be provided by the barcode.


Providing a Universal Language

No two businesses are exactly alike, even if they sell similar products or incorporate the same business structure. To make it easier to share information between businesses, shipping companies, and even customers, the UPC barcode gives everyone a way to get the information they need.

Additionally, the world has never been more connected than it currently is, and many companies are taking advantage of the efficiency of the supply chain to globalize their business. Providing crucial information about their products is far simpler when UPC barcode information is easy to find in any language.


Allowing for Better Data Analytics

To grow a business properly, one needs to regularly inspect the data coming in about who buys what and what customers want to buy. Data analytics are much easier to generate when all the data is standardized and comes from the same place, making UPC barcodes essential for gathering this data.

Purchasing barcodes for each individual product gives you quick access to the data surrounding each one. You can track sales and trends to find what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to adjust your future business practices accordingly. Analyzing your supply chain data would take far more effort without your barcodes. is the only place you can get your GS1 registered barcodes for use in the biggest marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart. Whether you’re just starting out or expanding your product line, we can help you get set up right.


– 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.
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