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Inventory Labeling Basics: SKUs, UPCs, EANs | Practical Ecommerce

The barcode was first scanned in , on a packet of Juicy Fruit gum. Since then, the technology used in scanning products in the retail. Every product at the supermarket has a UPC bar code. Find out what these codes do and learn how you can decode them without a scanner. Get started on your barcode labels with our instant online quote! . What's the difference between barcodes? Different barcodes are scanned.

The machine-readable bar code The human-readable digit UPC number The manufacturer identification number is the first six digits of the UPC number -- in the image above.

Free SKU Code template

The next five digits -- -- are the item number. A person employed by the manufacturer, called the UPC coordinator, is responsible for assigning item numbers to products, making sure the same code is not used on more than one product, retiring codes as products are removed from the product line, etc.

In general, every item the manufacturer sells, as well as every size package and every repackaging of the item, needs a different item code. So a ounce can of Coke needs a different item number than a ounce bottle of Coke, as does a 6-pack of ounce cans, a pack, a can case, and so on. It is the job of the UPC coordinator to keep all of these numbers straight!

The last digit of the UPC code is called a check digit. What is a UPC barcode? Barcodes used in retail like UPC, EAN, and JAN are regulated by GS1, an international non-profit organization responsible for influencing and maintaining efficiency standards to meet global supply and demand.

UPCs are the most commonly used barcodes in the U. The UPC was originally developed for the grocery industry but has since spread to almost all areas of retail business. UPC barcodes not only make it easy to identify products but they also allow retailers to program their POS systems with prices and other necessary information for each product.

That price is created by the retailer and inputted into the POS system prior to the product being put on the shelf. This way, a retailer can set their own prices. The retailer can input any information they want with the UPC, such as store warranty, product color, shape, etc.

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Plus, if you switch suppliers or the manufacturer changes the number, it becomes meaningless to your organization. Do not load item numbers with meaning — i. This will only make your numbers longer, and more complicated.

Save this information for the item description.

How UPC Bar Codes Work

If, however, you need a UPC, here are some basics. UPCs are 12 digits, numeric only. UPCs must be purchased to ensure that the same two sets of numbers are not issued to more than one company. Many UPC providers sell them online and, for the most part, do so with integrity.

That organization is the best source to assist meeting any compliance requirements. Check with your retailer to determine if the UPC can be used in the appropriate country or if it must be modified.

In short, remember that SKUs are for internal use. UPCs are for external or universal use.