Barcodes. It’s one of those things that is ever-present – but how often do you think about it?  

Those little lines and numbers on the back of a product which are responsible for telling us how much we pay for any given product, in any given country.  

A bar-code is like the DNA code of a product. It provides a unique identity with each set of lines and combination of numbers telling scanners what the product is. No barcode is the same! 

A universal product code (or UPC) is the most common type of barcode symbol—you see it in action at a store’s checkout counter every day. A UPC barcode is encoded with a product GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), making it easy to track a product on its journey to a customer. 

Barcoding your products starts with establishing a unique brand identity that becomes the foundation for your company’s future growth.  

By barcoding products, the right way from the beginning, you can ensure a better, more efficient shopping experience for consumers and a more uniform way to collaborate with retailers and other business partners. 

Why have a barcode?

If you’re selling something you need a barcode. As we’ve just mentioned it identifies your product. Having a barcode means products from the Blue Pacific can be recognised in markets around the world without the extra admin. 

It’s all about the data 

We live in the age of information, and this applies to barcodes as well.   

Having a barcode attached to a product allows for item identification quick data collection.  

An efficient processing system of stock and products can be optimised using barcodes and decreases the chance of delay in meeting customer demand.   

When poorly-marked or damaged barcodes result in “no-reads” or failures, loss of data can have disastrous effects on product integrity and corporate reputation – not to mention potential legal implications and serious risks to consumer welfare. 

Keeping it efficient

The symbol of a barcode can be scanned in one of many different angles, distances, and speeds. Being omni-directional allows for quicker movement of a product through supply chain.  

The occurrence of errors in data entered manually is significantly higher than using barcodes. Scanning products takes far less time and ensures that information is correctly transferred.   

Where should I put my barcode? 

Each barcode can be printed and attached to a product or incorporated into the product’s package design. Barcode placement can impact the ability of scanners to read your barcode. To optimise scanning at checkout, barcodes should generally be placed in the lower right-hand section of the back of the package.  

Avoid the edge of the package and allow enough white space surrounding the barcode to help to ensure a clean scan.  

It’s also critical that the printed surface be smooth, so nothing interferes with the scanner’s ability to read the barcode.  

While many small businesses print their own barcodes successfully, we recommend working with solution providers that specialise in product set-up and can offer a variety of services related to barcoding. 

Selling online? You still need a barcode  

The same identifier used for physical products is the same identifier you use to identify a product online. Some of the leading online retailers and marketplaces have started hiding product listings if they are not identified with a GTIN. 

With all the opportunity e-commerce represents to a small business, it is in the owner’s own best interest to comply with retailer identification requirements.  

In a recent study, 94 percent of consumers said they will either abandon a website or just give up on the online shopping experience altogether if they can’t find the information they are looking for on the site.  

With the proper unique product identification, your product can appear in more search engine results, and as a product manager, you can more easily ensure consistency between your product’s physical and digital presence. 

Who should I speak to about sorting out barcodes? 

Customer Engagement Manager Caroline James

Pacific Trade Invest NZ works with GS1. They’re a global company and the leaders in their industry. 

A GS1 barcode is distinguishable globally and often wholesalers or supermarket chains require products specifically to have a GS1 barcode.  

Caroline James, Customer Engagement Manager at GS1 is a part of our Path to Market workshops and gives a great presentation on the importance of barcodes.

She says GS1’s aim is to help businesses get barcoding right, prevent costly mistakes and ensure your products and brands are well positioned to enter the global trade market. 

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