How many UPC Barcodes do I need? Are UPC Barcodes Different For Each Store?

By Erik Quisling

How many UPC Barcodes do I need?  Are UPC barcodes different for each store?

These two questions are the easiest of all to answer (though they will require that you have at least 3rd grade math skills).

It should now be clear that when you buy UPC barcodes you are creating a simple and convenient way for retailers such as yourself to keep track of inventory. With a computerized UPC barcode inventory system, retailers no longer have to pay someone to perform tedious manual shelf counts of all their products. It is as simple as doing a quick search on their computer to find out their inventory needs.


Each Product needs it's own UPC Barcode

This is why it is so important that each different product has a different UPC barcode. So, to answer the question of how many UPC barcodes do you need, I will give you a couple of quick examples. (FYI, in these examples you could substitute the words flavors, styles, or colors and they would work the same.)

Example 1: If you sell a plain red t-shirt that comes in 3 different sizes you would need to buy barcodes for each size. In this case 3 barcodes. This way, if one of the sizes is selling faster than the others, the store will be able to tell instantly through their computerized inventory system which one needs to be replenished.

Example 2: If you sell 2 different styles of t-shirts (a plain red and a plain blue t-shirt) and each color comes in 3 different sizes, you would need to buy 6 different barcodes (2 x 3 = 6).

Example 3: You have recorded your first CD and you had 1,000 copies of your CD printed up. You would only need one UPC barcode. You always keep the same UPC barcode on the same product, no matter what type of product it is. However, each additional new CD you record in the future will also need its own unique UPC barcode.

Example 4: You have created the world’s greatest BBQ sauce and your friends and family have convinced you to sell it in the supermarket.  You have two different flavors (spicy and mild) and you want to offer each flavor in two different size bottles (8 ounce and 16 ounce).  In this example you would need to have 4 different UPC barcodes – one for each flavor and size.


Are UPC Barcodes different for each store?

To answer the second question – are UPC Barcodes different for each store – the answer is very straight forward:  NO.  You should always keep the same UPC barcode on the same product regardless of where it is sold.  For example, the UPC barcode you see on a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola is always the same regardless of where that can of Coke is sold.  This keeps the whole process of barcoding as free from chaos as possible.

I hope this brief explanation answers your question. If you still have other common questions about barcodes or want to know more about the history of barcodes, please see my other blogs on this subject.

Hope your day is prosperous and Happy Barcoding!

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For more information on Best Buy barcodes, please visit this page:

To learn more about UPC barcodes for Jet, visit our page:




– 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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