What are barcodes?
Barcodes are essentially a series of bars that represent a series of digits or characters. In the case of barcodes used for retail, the number that the barcode respresents is a globally unique number that comes from the GS1 UPC system which ensures that the barcode on your product won’t clash with a barcode on any other product worldwide.
Types of retail barcodes:
There are essentially 2 types of retail barcodes. The first type are EAN-13 barcodes. These are the most common type of retail barcodes and are used on all products with the exception of books and magazines predominantly in all countries (except for the USA and Canada). EAN-13 barcodes are 13 digit barcodes which are encoded in the EAN-13 format.
The other main type of barcodes are UPC Barcodes. These are 12 digit barcodes that again are used on all products except for books and magazines. They are used primarily in the USA and Canada.
The difference between EAN-13 and UPC barcode can be seen below:
So either option can be used in any country in the world, as they scan with any barcode system internationally. In a small number of cases, a retailer may need to be advised to either include or leave off the leading ‘0’ to ensure the number can be entered into their system correctly, but this is unlikely.
What about books and magazines?
Basically books and magazines have their own barcode system which is generally administered by individual organizations in each country. Books use ISBN Number which are then turned into barcodes. You can obtain an ISBN number here and obtain an ISBN barcode here. Magazines use ISSN numbers (International Standard Serial Numbers) which again are then turned into barcodes. ISSN Numbers can be obtained here and ISSN barcodes can be purchased here. There are a few different options in terms of how your barcode can be created – talk with International Barcodes to find out the best option for you, or check out stores stocking similar magazines to see what they use.
How to get a barcode for your retail product?
Congratulations on creating your product! You are now ready to get a barcode and get your product into retail stores. The process is reasonably straight forward.
The first thing to do is to get a barcode through International Barcodes – They can supply you with EAN-13 or UPC-A Barcode packages for your product which include the barcode numbers, the images, a guarantee and barcode registration. Once an order is placed, you will be emailed through your barcode number with the images as attached files.
Step 2 is to assign your barcode(s) to your product(s) and incorporate whichever image format suits you best into your product packaging in an easily visible, flat location. When doing this you can resize the barcode if need be, keeping in mind the barcode specifications and ensuring not to put any text right next to the barcode (it is important to have the white space or quiet zones on either side of the barcode).
When a retailer receives the product for the first time, they will scan the barcode into their system and link it to the product information. From that point onwards, whenever the barcode is scanned, the product information (price, reordering information etc) will appear automatically.
At any stage after purchasing the barcode, you can optionally register your barcode on the barcodesdatabase and link your product information to your barcodes online.
Long term we are looking at starting a Japan branch of International Barcodes Ltd. We currently don’t have a Japanese speaker located in Japan to take over this. Get in touch if you think this might be of interest to you.
Buy Barcodes from the International Barcodes Network:
CENTRAL / SOUTH AMERICA