Everything You Need to Know About Barcodes

Most of us see numerous barcodes each and every day. We know that they look like, we know that they are on virtually every product, but even individuals in eCommerce may not know everything there is to know about barcodes. Every single barcode in the world is unique, no matter where it is located or what type of item it is for. If you don’t already have barcodes on your eCommerce items, it may be time to step up to the plate and start implementing barcodes into your system. However, before you get started, here is a little lesson in barcodes and some insight on everything you need to know about them.




Barcodes 101:

You may be used to seeing barcodes, but chances are you don’t know all of the details. Let’s start with the basics:


There are three standard barcode formats.

Almost all barcodes used with commercial products are in what is known as the GTIN family. However, here are several different lengths and types of these barcodes. The three main standard formats are: EAN-13, EAN-14 and UPC (12).

The first two formats (EAN-13 and EAN-14) are for European products. UPC (12) is an American format. Nearly every barcode scanner is equipped to read all three forms, so chances are you won’t have to make sure your scanner works with international products. However, it is still important to know about the names of these three formats.


So, what is the difference between EAN-13 and EAN-14?

In most cases, you will likely be dealing with EAN-13 and EAN-14 barcodes. So, what is the difference? An EAN-13 has 13 digit codes, which is the standard number for individual products. An EAN-14 on the other hand, has 14 digit codes, which is the standard for cases of products. For example, if you are selling an individual water bottle it would have a EAN-13 on it. If you were selling a case of water it would have a EAN-14.

All UK barcodes with start with the numbers 5060 and must be issued by the GS1 UK.


What is the GS1 UK?

Chances are when first hearing about barcodes, you have heard about the GS1 UK. They are the issuing body for all UK-based barcodes. This not-for-profit organisation is responsible for issuing all of the EAN codes. They are the only organisation that can provide you with international barcodes. The work on a subscription barcodes and you will need an annual license in order to get original barcodes from them.

However, you need to buy them in packs of 1,000 and it gives you the full licensing rights to that number. If you don’t need to buy that many, you can buy individual barcodes online on eBay, but you will not have the right to that number, even if you paid for it.


Printing Barcodes

There is not only a governing body in control of issuing barcodes, but there are stipulations regarding the size of the barcode and other encoding details. This ensures proper scanning. The GS1 UK will let you know the line spacing’s, height and checksum details involved with proper printing, but most professional printers will also know all of the specifications when printing barcodes for you.

Have more questions about barcodes and how they can implement your business? Then contact Autofulfil to learn more about how our services can help.