UPC is known as a Universal Product Code which is an identification for your product that is needed to sell through traditional retailers and online marketplaces. You typically need a new UPC if you are trying to list a product that is not on Amazon already. These codes are standardized global identifiers which allow products to be tracked, sold and reordered.
UPC vs UPC Code
So, UPC stands for Universal Product Code while UPC code stands for the actual barcode symbol as pictured below.
This barcode is usually a 12-digit number called GTIN-12 according to GS1-USinfo.com. This symbol makes it easier to find a product by scanning it. Keep in mind that the 12 digit code is normally and primarily used in North America, while other places like Europe use 13 or 14 digit codes.
How To Get A UPC
One thing to remember about UPC codes is that you cannot simply buy one you have to:
- License a GS1 company prefix
- Getting a license will help identify you as the manufacturer, the unique numbers you get assigned are between 6-10 characters depending on the number of products a manufacturer needs to identify. The membership fee for GS1 is based on the number of products.
- Assign a unique product number
- This number will be unique to the products that you have. The number of digits you choose is based on your company prefix. Companies that end up with a shorter prefix are assigned a larger range of digits for their products, while companies that plan on selling a smaller amount of unique product will receive a larger number limiting the number of unique product numbers. Below is an example pulled from Gs1-us.info.com of the company prefix and product number.
- Determine how your product will display the barcode
- The best thing to do is to have your barcode directly on the product, including it on the design before production which can save you a lot of money but a lot of people don’t think about that before production. The .eps files should be used for your digital barcode artwork.
- Order your UPC barcodes
- Below is an example of the number of items, the cost of bar codes and renewal fees
How many UPCs do I need?
To determine how many UPCs you need, you need to look over how many products you have and how many variations. You need 1 UPC code per product, per product variation. Like the example above, you have a blue and orange shirt (2 different products) with three different sizes (variations), so you’ll need 6 UPCs.
For more information on UPCs, you can check out this official website. Good luck!
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