What information is stored in a barcode?

What Information Is Stored In A Barcode
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The first UPC barcode was scanned in a Marsh Supermarket in Ohio, America, in 1974. They were developed in order to streamline the entire sales process and boost the profit margin. Retailers were searching for ways to run a retail business more efficiently and more effectively, from adding the product to their inventory to selling the product to the end customer. The UPC barcode was the answer they were looking for. Since then, both the UPC barcode and EAN barcode have taken the world by storm. How much do we know about this barcode that has changed our lives in so many ways? Where did the barcode originate from? What information do they store? How are they used in society today?

The UPC was the first ever barcode to be scanned in a retail environment. They were first developed in America by George Laurer but have since spread worldwide. They consist of black bars with white spaces between them – encoding a sequence of 12 digits. This is called the barcode number. There are no characters, letters, or any alternative content in a UPC barcode, only the number. These can store information horizontally, from left to right. The number can then be referenced to bring up product descriptions, manufacturer information, etc.

What information is stored in a barcode?

The two main types are the UPC-E and the UPC-A. The UPC-E is 6-digits long, and the UPC-A is 12-digits. UPC-A is far more popular, especially within the retail industry. They can be scanned by any scanner. Each individual product item requires its own barcode. These will be loaded onto the retailer’s sales system and linked to the product. The product is brought up automatically on the sales system by scanning them. In order to be scanned accurately, the width is more important to ensure the height. The standard size in South Africa is 37.3mm wide and 25.9mm high. This can be adjusted to a certain extent. It is recommended that the smallest you go is 80% of this standard size, and the largest you print is 200% of the recommended size.

EAN stands for International Article Number (or European Article Number). They were developed from the original UPC. The most common is the EAN-13 standard, which is 13-digits long. These were also developed in America for use by retailers. They are now being used throughout the world. Most retailers actually prefer this format, as there are many more uses for it within the retail setting.

Another version is the shortened EAN-8. This was developed specifically for products that are too small to hold a larger image. These are only eight digits long.



The EAN-13 consists of four different components. These are the 3-digit company prefix, the manufacturer code, the product number, and the check digit. However, if it starts with a 0, this means that there will be a 12-digit number following it, which does not have the same breakdown.

The first component, the 3-digit prefix, tells us the region from which the company using the barcode is part. The next component is the manufacturer prefix. This is a unique number that has been given to each manufacturer by the GS1, which is the regulating authority. All products that are produced by a certain company will all have the same manufacturer prefix.

The product number is the next component, and this is assigned by the manufacturer. This follows the manufacturer prefix. The length of both of these should be nine or ten digits long.

The last component is the check digit. This is used to check whether a barcode has been scanned correctly. It is able to recognize if an error has occurred.

What is a barcode used for?

These are used in retailers in order to control and manage the whole sales process, from start to finish. They help retailers to receive stock into their inventory. They assist sales assistants by making it very simple to ring up items on the sales system. This eliminates long queues and saves both time and money. Initiating a system within retailers also eliminates human error. Without them, it is necessary for retail assistants to search for each item on the sales system manually. It is very easy for them to ring up the wrong item. This often leads to a loss of profits in the long run.

Another advantage is that they give you complete control over your inventory. You will know exactly what stock you have at all times. This will enable you to make strategic decisions to boost your business’s sales margin. Very importantly, investing in a barcode will enhance your business’s professional reputation and ensure it reaches its full potential.

How to buy a barcode for your business

There are two main options for buying an EAN barcode. Some people choose to buy their EAN barcode through the GS1 South Africa. These begin with 600. They require you to become a member of GS1 which is a costly business with yearly renewal fees. The process can take up to 2 to three weeks to complete.

The easier and more affordable option is to go through a reseller. These are companies that have bought bulk and are reselling them within South Africa. At https://barcodes123.co.za, we supply the full range at the most affordable of prices. Ours is fully legal and registered within the GS1. They come with a certificate of authentication. The process is simple and quick. You must contact us for a quote or choose one of our barcode packages online. After payment is done, we need a personal or business name to register the codes. Before you know it, we will send out your pack via email.

These days, we take technology completely for granted. We have no idea how tiresome and inconvenient our lives would be without them. Investing in an EAN barcode is one of the most critical decisions you can make for your business. It will raise your business to the next level and ensure that it reaches its full potential. These are the most common retail ones within South Africa as well as overseas. Your products will be able to be sold throughout the world. You will be opening new frontiers for your business by barcoding your products.

Thank you for reading!