Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Barcode and Retail Business (Continued)

Now that you know what a barcode is, how do you get your own barcodes? The correct way is to register under GS1. But if you search online, various third-party websites will show up and tell you that they have cheap barcodes for you. These websites are not scams, but purchasing barcodes from them involves certain risks. Let me break it down for you.

So, what happens when a company registers under GS1? The company must pay a one-time membership fee and maintenance cost annually. After the company upload its documents and pay its fees, it receives a company ID, which is equivalent to our driver’s license. This company ID will provide information about which industries are the company involved in, where the company is located and so on. For example, first three digits of EAN-13 is the area code. A number between 000–019, 030—039 or 060—139 shows it is a USA-based company. 300—379 means France, 690—699 means China. First 8 digits together make up the company ID. Notice this, company ID never changes, and a company can only have one ID.

Once the company receives its ID from GS1, it can then register product IDs and generate barcodes for its products. Product ID is composed of next 4 digits. Which means a company can own up to 9999 different kinds of products. Products are differentiating by color, size, flavor, and so on. For example, I could register 9998888800010 for a big red apple, and 9998888800020 for a small green apple. GS1 will generate the 13th digit with their secret calculation method (not really, it is being published on multiple websites I found) as the verification number.

The risks I have previously mentioned is that many unethical third-party websites will register your product ID under their company ID. Whenever consumers scan the barcode, it will provide them with your product information and details of the third-party website. The third-party website is making money off you with their 9999 product ID slots. If you have no knowledge of how barcode works, you might never find out about it.

Hope this helps!