Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Barcode and Retail Business

Hey, ever you shopped in stores? Of course. Have you ever noticed the barcode on the product? Probably. But what is a barcode? Barcode is a way to transport information. When you scan a barcode, it shows you the product origin, cost, material, and so on. Barcode exists in many aspects of our life. It appears on our license, commercials and much more. Let me tell you a bit about barcode in the world of retail business.

First of all, please understand that anyone can generate a barcode. But only the ones registered under https://www.gs1.org/ will be able to be read by scanners around the world. GS1 is The Global Language of Business, an organization started in 1973 that sets many standards for business including barcode. GS1 has partnerships with dozens of countries across six continents.

The most recognized type of barcode for retail business around the world is EAN-13 (13 digits’ European barcode). UPC code is more common and only readable within US and Canada (12 digits). The mistake I made was to use UPC code for the product I worked on IN CHINA. Not a single retail store was able to read the barcode we labeled on the product. My co-workers and I had to retrieve every single product we shipped out and glue on the newly registered EAN-13 barcode with our own hands to cover up the printed UPC code on the package. (Do not make the mistake I made. It was not fun at all.)

For those who have means to do international business, please note that when a product is being shipped overseas, it does not need to re-register for a new barcode in the target country. Such product is classified as an imported good. However, if only the materials were shipped overseas and the packaging was processed in the target country, the company is required to register a new barcode under its subsidiary overseas. The reason is that there are many factors might affect the materials including air quality, water contents, humidity, temperature and so on. This rule is made to protect the local consumers from purchasing potentially contaminated products without knowing about it.

To be continued.