What Is a UPC Barcode?

October 5th, 2016

Or Universal Product Code……..


Today’s post was written by Christine McConnell, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

A UPC, or Universal Product Code, is a unique 12-digit identification number that appears on most retail products for sale in the United States and Canada. UPC numbers are made up of two components: company prefix and product number. While the companies or their brands normally determine the product number, the company prefix is determined and assigned by GS1 US. GS1 US – formerly the Uniform Code Council (UCC) – is a nonprofit group responsible for regulating international commerce. They introduced the first barcode in 1974. As a business owner interested in establishing your own barcodes, you must first join GS1 US. Once a member, the organization will assign you your own unique identification number which will become the first part of your UPC.  GS1 US’s membership fees are based on your production capacity and start around $250 with annual renewal fees starting at $50. The fees vary depending on the number of unique products your company sells. Here are three simple steps to set you on your way to obtaining UPC barcodes for your company’s products:

  1. Join GS1 US and apply for company prefix – company prefix codes can be anywhere from 6 to 10 digits long depending on the number of products you’ll need identified. Smaller companies are typically assigned a higher number of digits.
  2. Create Your Unique Product Number – you’ll probably need a different UPC code for each type of product you sell. And depending on how many colors and sizes of each style you offer, the number of unique products can quickly add up.  Now simply add your product number to your company prefix and voila you have your UPC.
  3. Decide on print or digital barcodes – each UPC can be used to produce a specific barcode that is then either printed out and attached to products or incorporated into their design so that they can be easily scanned at the register.

Would you like to learn how SafeSourcing could help your company communicate more effectively? Interested in a risk free trial? Please don’t hesitate to contact SafeSourcing. Our team is ready and available to assist you!



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