The Different Types of Barcodes

UPC Barcodes: UPC codes are important and widely used forms of barcoding for retail products, with UPC-A and UPC-E codes being accepted across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. UPC-A is the regular version of UPC codes that contain 12 numbers, while UPC-E codes are condensed versions for smaller items containing only 6 numbers. These codes provide a convenient way for retailers to accurately track and identify products in their inventory. UPC codes are also useful when it comes to streamlining checkout at point-of-sale systems, as well as marketing efforts such as promotions in which customers can scan UPCs for discounts or loyalty information.
EAN Barcodes: EAN Barcodes, formerly known as European Article Numbers, have been adopted worldwide for product identification. EAN-13 and EAN-8 barcodes are most used; EAN-13 consists of 13 numerical digits while EAN- 8 is a compressed version containing 8 numbers. EAN barcodes can be found everywhere, especially in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Thanks to their accuracy and comprehensive database information, EAN barcodes have become indispensable for efficient management of global supply chains.
Code 39 Barcodes: Code 39 barcodes are an effective way of communicating large amounts of data in a smaller, easily understandable format. Also known as USD-3 and Code 3 of 9 barcodes, Code 39 barcodes can store numbers, uppercase letters, spaces, and additional symbols such as. $ – + % / to represent more complex information. This distinguishing feature gives Code 39 barcodes an edge over UPCs and EANs, as Code 39 does not have a character limit; therefore, it can be used to store information as brief or lengthy as necessary.
Code 128 Barcodes: Code 128 Barcodes are a more sophisticated form of Code 39 barcode. In addition to containing numbers, Code 128 Barcodes can also incorporate upper and lowercase letters, as well as specialized characters like, ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) – _ + = [ ] \ : ; ” ‘ , < . > / ?. Their ability to accommodate a larger variety of characters makes Code 128 barcodes versatile and suitable for diverse uses in the business world, making them the de facto standard format for high-capacity storage solutions that demand a level of efficiency Code 39 simply cannot provide.
Codabar Barcodes: Codabar Barcodes, also known as Code 2 of 7, are widely used in the logistics industry to track inventory and shipments. Composed of combinations of the numbers 0-9, letters A-D and . $ – + : /, Codabar Barcodes help business operations run more smoothly by ensuring accurate identification and enhanced security. Codabar Barcodes are commonly seen in libraries, shipping centers, blood banks and photo labs.
Interleaved 2 of 5 Barcodes: Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes, or ITF barcodes, are composed only of digits. To create a complete barcode image, each set of digits must include an even number. Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes can be found on corrugated boxes and other packaging products meant for shipping. With the use of these barcodes, businesses can streamline their shipping processes by having key information readily accessible to equipment such as scanners. Interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes offer secure and accurate product identification; since these numbers are exclusive and cannot be replicated, counterfeiting is minimized.
Postnet Barcodess: Postnet Barcodes, also known as Postal Numeric Encoding Technique (Postnet) barcodes, are a common sight for US residents who have ever received mail via the Post Service. Postnet barcodes make the process of sorting and delivering mail much more efficient and accurate due to the ability to encode ZIP code information into the barcode itself. The barcode is typically made up of a strip of bars of various lengths – each has its own meaning and purpose in helping identify where the envelope needs to go.
QR Codes: QR Codes are a modern form of data storage that stands out compared to other more conventional barcodes typically used. QR stands for Quick Response, owing to its two-dimensional nature. Unlike the linear barcodes already discussed, QR codes exist in the form of squares, with data stored horizontally and vertically. This makes QR codes distinguishable from traditional barcodes and allows it to store more information per unit area.

Choosing Your Barcode Color

QR Code color selection plays an important role in QR Code usability, as contrast is key for successful QR Code scanning. For best results, QR Codes should use a white background and black barcode, as this combination creates the highest level of contrast and makes it easier for scanners to pick up the code. Furthermore, yellow, and red colors may prove to be difficult for scanners to detect; however, scanners are able to detect black and blue-based codes more easily. Therefore, when selecting QR Code colors keep contrast in mind – use light colors for the background and dark colors for the QR Code bars.

Barcode Size, Does it Matter?

The size of barcodes matters when it comes to reliability and accuracy. Whether you’re looking at barcode labels for product packaging, shipping containers or assets, barcodes must fall within certain acceptable barcode size parameters to be scanned successfully. UPC-A barcodes specifically need to be between 80% and 200% their normal size for them to work properly; any deviation from this range could result in the barcode not being scanned correctly. To ensure your barcode is readable, it’s important to print it on regular paper or a test label and scan it first – this provides an accurate gauge of how successful the barcode will be when used in real life scenarios.

Where to Place Your Barcode

Barcodes need to be placed at least 8mm from a seam or packaging fold for barcode scanning to be accurate and efficient. Otherwise, barcode readers may not be able to pick up the barcode and therefore won’t detect the barcode during the scanning process. Thus, it’s important to account for barcode placement when designing labels and packaging for products.
Finding a smooth or consistently curved surface for application is crucial to ensure accurate results. Inconsistently curved surfaces can make it difficult for scanners to detect properly and lead to inaccurate readings. It’s important to identify smooth and even surfaces that can be read with ease. Depending on the type of product, there might be multiple smooth surfaces available, such as plastic, glass or metal – each offering its own benefits.
Whether it’s to scan a barcode on a product or perform an inventory check, following the barcode’s direction is an essential step for businesses and technicians. Different scanners work best with barcodes orientated either horizontally or vertically, so being familiar with barcode direction and understanding which machine will be used can save time and effort. Knowing barcode direction not only applies when using barcode scanners, but also when printing barcodes on products. Ensuring the barcode meets its required orientation from the start of production can make all the difference in successful scanning.

Barcode FAQ

Are barcodes unique?

UPC, EAN, and ITF-14 barcodes are all unique to specific products due to their creation through GS1’s universal database. This ensures that when one of these barcodes are identified, the same result is received every time. However, Code 39, Code 128 and ITF are not as exclusive in their function; they do not require an association with a database and thus can be created by different people to identify various products.

What is GS1?

GS1 is a not-for-profit organization aiming to simplify how companies do business with each other by developing and maintaining global standards for communication. As far as barcoding goes, GS1 assigns each company a distinct identification number that serves as the prefix for the products’ subsequent barcodes. This way, all parties involved in the process of buying and selling goods have up-to-date information about what they are dealing with and can be sure what they are trading matches what is listed on the barcode.

How do you get a UPC?

Obtaining a UPC or EAN barcode from GS1 is an expensive endeavor – companies must pay annually for unique company prefixes, plus the cost of the actual barcodes. As a result, most small businesses cannot afford to purchase them and rely instead on less expensive options such as Code 39 or Code 128 barcodes. The only instances where it is necessary to obtain UPC or EAN barcodes are when businesses are planning to enter retail distribution, which requires their use.

Are barcodes a legal requirement?

Barcodes are becoming an increasingly commonplace necessity for businesses that want to remain competitive in an ever-evolving landscape. Though barcodes are not required by any government body, savvy retailers understand their value: the ability to easily automate product tracking and inventory management. It’s no wonder, then, that popular retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon all have extensive barcode systems in place. Large companies can take advantage of the efficiency and data analysis tools associated with barcode systems, while small businesses may be encouraged to adopt barcoding as well due to pressure from larger vendor customers who may potentially require it.

Why Choose Badger Fulfillment Group?

Badger Fulfillment Group can provide you with unparalleled industry expertise, integrated ecommerce solutions and the ability to pick, pack and ship your goods quickly and reliably. Our staff is located within the warehouse giving you only 1 degree of separation between you and your goods allowing for unparalleled customer service support.


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