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How To Get a Barcode for a Product Label

how to get a barcode for a product

While great product label design can certainly drive higher sales, there’s an not so glamorous side to labeling that is equally critical for your business. While barcodes on product labels aren’t exactly sexy, they can help you simplify several essential tasks that can also lead to higher sales in the long run.

Learn why barcodes are important, and how to get a barcode for a product with these tips.

Why Are Barcodes Important?

While it’s true that QR codes on labels are great for timestamping each step in complex transactions and logistical processes, barcodes have one distinct advantage: They’re easily scannable from a distance.

For that reason, a barcode label is superior to QR code stickers for scanning items at the point of sale and during inventories. That’s especially true for taking inventory in huge warehouses since some barcode scanners can read barcodes from a distance of 70 feet.

Manufacturers, e-commerce companies, retailers, and wholesalers alike also use barcodes to differentiate their products. These codes contain the products’ Universal Product Codes (UPCs), which contain the product’s manufacturer’s identification code, the product’s item number, and a verification digit.

How To Get a Barcode for a Product – Start with the UPC Code

The first thing you need to do is to learn how to get a UPC code. It’s fairly easy, but you need to follow the proper steps to obtain one.

How to Get a UPC Code

First, you need to join GS1, a multinational group that first introduced UPC codes as an efficient way to track products in stores and online. Although the company is an international one, it does maintain divisions in various locations, including the United States.

Joining GS1 – The First Step

GS1 will charge you a membership fee to join, the price depending on how many unique product variations you have. Since many new businesses have never learned how to get a UPC code, GS1 provides you with an online estimator to help you choose how many UPCs you will need.

Upon joining GS1, the organization will assign you a company prefix. If you’ve never explored how to get a UPC code, all you need to know is that the prefix is a six- to ten-digit number that will become your unique identification number for all the products you manufacture.

How to Get UPC Codes – The Second Step

Next, you’ll need to assign each product a global trade item number (GTIN).  Then, you’ll license each GTIN with GS1.

If you’ve never learned how to get UPC codes, you’ll need to know how GS1 assigns these numbers. They depend on how long your prefix is – and must combine with the prefix to equal 11 characters. For example, if your prefix is seven digits, your product number (GTIN) will be a four-digit number, and so on.

How to Get UPC Codes – The Third Step

The last number in a UPC code is the check digit. It’s a single-digit number that helps check for any possible errors.

To find the right number for your check digit, GS1 has a check digit calculator, so even if you’re a first-timer, GS1 makes it easy for you to get started.

How to Get the Barcode Itself – The Final Step

Now that you know how to get UPC codes, it’s time to learn how to get your barcodes. Fortunately, GS1 makes it easy for businesses to get up to speed on the process.

Each barcode is unique and must exactly match the corresponding 12-digit UPC code. After you create and license your UPCs, GS1 provides you with the machine-readable barcodes themselves.

Since you’ve already become a GS1 member at the beginning of the process, GS1 provides you with a tool, the GS1 US Data Hub, to create artwork that you can include on your products’ labels.

Work Your UPC Barcodes into Your Label Design

You don’t want your UPC barcodes and QR codes, if you have them, to stick out like a sore thumb on the label. Since they’re phone- or machine-scannable, they can blend into your overall design so long as you follow a few rules, such as:

  • Use colors that scan well: Use light backgrounds with your barcodes and QR codes in dark print. Warm colors interfere with the scanning process. However, make sure that the colors you choose blend into your label’s overall color scheme.
  • Use plenty of “white space” around your codes: White space doesn’t have to be the color white. It’s just the blank area between text or images on your label. Since your scanner might pick up text or images close to your codes, it’s important to leave at least 1/8 inch of blank space around each code.
  • Use properly sized codes: Barcode sizes must meet specific standards in both height and width. Use this equation to check your design against the size requirements: 80% – 200% times a horizontal length of anything between 0.26 mm and 0.66 mm. Typically, they’re about 1-1/2 inches wide by 1 inch high. If in doubt, go large. Doing so makes it easier for the scanner to read the code.
  • Store the codes in the same format you received them in: The GS1 will send you your image files in the proper format, so don’t make any changes to them. However, making several backup files will ensure that you have them on hand even if one of the files becomes corrupt. Also, store your master list of UPC numbers on a spreadsheet for easy reference. Again, make sure you have backup copies.

Work with an Experienced Printer to Ensure Success

Now that you know how to get a barcode for a product, you need to work with a printer that has experience working with barcodes and QR codes. With the help of your printer’s design team, you can create eye-grabbing labels that incorporate your codes in an attractive overall design.

At Nova Custom Label Printing, we have that experience. If you want to start using barcodes and QR codes on your labels, we can help. Learn what we can do for your company today!

We have worked together on a number of projects over the years. They are very trustworthy, reliable and easy to work with. You cannot go wrong with Nova. I highly recommend them!

Mykola Yaremko Avatar Mykola Yaremko
September 21, 2023

Nova printing was great! They turned around a last minute sticker need and they turned out really well. Thanks team!

Molly Ross Avatar Molly Ross
July 31, 2023

Michael was a great help! I contacted at least 10 different businesses for a last-minute sticker request for a shoot. Got us our stickers on time even when other places said it would be impossible. They do great custom cuts on sticker sheets and have great quality prints at a reasonable price. Will be working with Nova again. Very satisfied!

Zain Mehmood Avatar Zain Mehmood
July 18, 2023
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