What Type of Barcode Do I Need?

Barcodes Explained (Part 2)

Are you in search of what barcodes you need? It is a prevalent question I receive every day when people are looking to buy UPC codes or barcodes.

If you live in the United States or Canada and your product is not a book or a magazine, then you need what is called a UPC-A barcode, also known as UPC codes or UPC's. All of them refer to the same 12-digit barcode number you see on nearly 100% of all products you'll find in a store. (UPC, by the way, stands for Universal Product Code.)

 

Barcodes Explained

Barcodes use barcode images or symbology that can be easily scanned by a retailer using laser software or camera type systems to identify products at a point of sale. The barcode encodes product-specific information such as ISSN numbers, serial numbers, and product information unique to the character set of your sellable items all within the barcode image itself.

There are many different barcode types such as GS1 barcodes, EAN barcodes, etc. that contain everything needed for different types of products.

Whether you are selling toasters, CD's, clothing, newspapers, auto accessories, pharmaceuticals, food, alcohol, or anything else you can think of, you need to put the standard 12-digit UPC-A barcode on your product.

The great news is that once you have a UPC barcode on your product, you can sell your product to customers in any store around the world at your business point of sale.

 

Do All Products Need a UPC Code?

Depending on different businesses, there are many types of barcodes and formats a business can use for products, but only books and magazines require something other than a UPC code since they use an entirely different type of coding system altogether.

Books, for example, require an ISBN barcode and not a UPC code, which is only issued by the Library of Congress, and the same goes for magazine barcodes. Their website is http://www.bowker.com.

 

What Type of Barcode do Magazines Use?

For a publisher, magazines use an industry code called a Bipad number used by publishers typically. The Bipad number is not used for any retail products other than magazines and books and has a similar barcode image to that of standard barcodes like UPC and EAN codes.

 

Magazine Barcodes

If you are looking for more information on book or magazine barcode types that meet the international standards on the world stage, these are issued at http://www.bipad.com/.

 

International Barcodes

For those of you who do not live in the U.S. or Canada, or a retailer in Europe and want to know the answer to the question, "What type of Barcode do I need?" take a look at the EAN barcodes format.

There are a couple of different types of EAN barcodes that meet the international standard. One is a 13 digit barcode called an EAN 13 and EAN 8 barcodes used for smaller products where a 13 digit numbers would be too large on the packaging itself.

For more information on the advantage of the EAN 8 barcode or EAN 13 barcodes, please see my blog: https://buyabarcode.com/blog/what-is-an-ean-barcode. Be sure to check out my future blogs to answer any other questions you may have.

Hope your day is prosperous and Happy Barcoding!

– Erik Quisling

Erik Quisling is the Founder and CEO of Buyabarcode.com. Started in 1999, Buyabarcode.com 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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