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Selecting a Bar Code for retail

jp2007jp2007 subscriber Posts: 2
edited November 2008 in Marketing
Hello all.  I am finalizing the design for my retail package and one of the things I need is a bar code.  I am trying to select a manufacturer for the bar code, but when I googled bar codes, I get many links to many companies.  A little confusing and overwhelming.
Can anyone suggest a manufacturer that they are using?  Is there a least expensive manufacturer? 
Are there some that are better to work with?  Flexibility to add additional sku`s, etc.
How much should I expect to pay? 
Can I have the box producer print my code directly on the retail package?  Is the print quality of the bar code satisfactory to the retailers and their scanners?
Anything else I should know?
Thank you so much!
Jo Anne


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    GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    Hey Jo Anne!!  I just recently went through this process myself.  Here`s what little I know... hope it helps!  To get your UPC the only "real" place to go is the GS1.   www.gs1.org</A>
    The "membership" for a start up company is $750.00 so be prepared.  It will assign you up to 100 UPC`s for that price.  It sounds like you are at the same stage I am as I too just completed my packaging (well... I`m still doing revisions on the graphics, but other then that, it`s complete) so I am having my contract packager print the UPC right on the box.  There are plenty of label vendors out there, but if you`re doing the packaging, IMO why not just plan for it and put it right on the box?  The program you get from the GS1 for assiging UPC`s even gives you the size the code should be and the placement based on your type of packaging.   Good luck!!!  Email anytime!
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    ethnicommethnicomm subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi Jo Anne,As GrillCharmer wrote, GS1 is the only place to go.Note that there is an annual membership fee. The US site does not give this to you without registering but the Canadian site shows that it is about CAD$1055 the first year and then CAD$795 for subsequent years.

    You have provided the following information: 

    Annual Revenue:

    Prefix Registration Type:

    Today`s Date:


    Your fee breakdown is as follows: 

    One time Activation Fee:

    Annual Registration Fee:

    SME Subsidy:
     -$295.00 *

    GST Total:

     Fee Total (CAD):

     Date of Expiration:

    Fee Total for each additional year:


    Note 1:

    Fees are in Canadian dollars.

    Note 2:

    This is not an invoice when printed and is intended for estimation purposes only. Fees are subject to change.


    * You have been identified as a small to
    medium-sized enterprise (SME) and as such a
    credit of $295.00 has been applied.You can create your own barcode graphics or have a printer do them for you. I would suggest having a sample run and then taking it to your customer or a retailer to see if the barcode scans.If you plan on having multiple sku`s using the same packaging, for example different colours, it may be more economical to do a larger print run without the bar code and then having a label with the bar code (and any other sku-specific information) applied post-printing.
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    MNGrillGuyMNGrillGuy subscriber Posts: 2 Member
    Why would you need to re-new annually?  You`d think once you got your codes that would be the end of it.  Doesn`t make sense to me.  What value is provided to the customer yr/yr?
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    bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    There is an interesting description of UPC barcoding at:
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    GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    Hey Travis, hey Bert!  Good to see ya!!!  The GS1 kinda has ya over a barrel.  They are the only organization that can issue "real" UPC`s specific for your company.  I`m not sure why you have to pay your $$$ every year, but you just do.  If you do not, your company prefix (and therefore your UPC`s) will be null and void.  The services they offer (and I`m just reading the propaganda, I`m not saying it`s right or wrong... as a matter of fact, I REALLY wish I didn`t have to pay this every year) but included in your annual membership to the GS1 are
    Unlimited tech support, UPC`s, a bunch of "supply chain" management stuff that I don`t understand yet because I`m not there, newsletters, access to the GS1 "online membership center" with resources for managing your supply chain practices, access to supply chain education opportunities and access to (with more $) the annual "U Connect" conference, which is the "one conference to learn about the supply chain best practices and business process solutions from successful companies of the GS1 US, this year speakers include J. Alexander Douglas of Coca-Cola North America, Craig Herkert with Wal-Mart International division and Randy Mott of Hewlett-Packard"  (there are a bunch more, but this post is getting too long already  Sorry!
    Okay, that`s some of the stuff I got when I joined.  I`m not at the point in my biz where I see the value in all this yet, but I do know if I ever want to run with the big dogs, I don`t have a choice... I need my GS1 Company prefix to make my UPC codes or I don`t get in to the major retailers period.  I`m not agreeing with it, it`s just one of those necessary evils and expenses of being a manufacturer so plan for it.  It`s not going away and it`s not getting any cheaper!
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    bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    Hey Leslie!  I agree with you that it is a necessary evil today.  But I keep hearing they are going to be replaced but I see no good replacements.  I don`t totally understand why there is so many web sites offering UPC and International codes at prices all over the place.  When you Google "UPC barcodes" you get a ton of sites.  It seems like a scam to me.  How do they keep from repeating the same numbers when they are coming from multiple places?
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    GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    I`m no expert but this is my understanding of the UPC reseller thing.  A UPC is made up of a 10 digit company prefix (which is you`re and only yours) then you`ve got the rest (it is a little more involved then that, but for the purpose of this resell issue that`s all we need to know).  These companies get a hold of someone else`s 10 digit company prefix then they can pretty much make tons of UPC`s and resell them.  When you buy these wholesale UPC`s, they are "real" GS1 UPC numbers, but they will not represent you as the manufacturer. I don`t think there is anything illegal about the practice what-so-ever, BUT I don`t think you`ll get very far with your bigger players.
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    bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    Leslie, I hear what you are saying but what to you think about http://www.upccode.net/</A>?  They are much cheaper and make all the same claims at the others.  How can there be such a huge price difference?
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    GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    Hello Bert!  I`m certainly not an advocate for or a proponent of the GS1, so this is not my opinion, it`s just what I understand to be true.  The above website is very good with the wording.  There is nothing that isn`t "true"...  I`ll show you what I mean....The website you mentioned says...
    "Yes, our barcodes are UPC codes and they originate with the only legal source, GS1 (formerly know as the Uniform Code Council or UCC). (If you are looking for EAN barcodes, click here to learn more.)
    Yes, UPC codes are only issued from the GS1, so they are "real".  Yes, your UPC code is unique. Unlike many of the supposedly "free" bar code issuers, your number is GUARANTEED to be unique and authentic. There is no danger of cross-over, duplication, or expiration of your barcodes.
    Yes, if it is issued through the GS1, there is no chance of duplication  Yes, you OWN your UPC barcode outright. It can be registered in your name and re-issued by you for future products once you have sold out or discontinued your current product.
    Yes you OWN the barcode because you bought it from a reseller. As far as "registered"... they don`t say it`s registered w/ the GS1... who is it "registered" with?  Registered with www.upccode.net</A> I would guess.  Not sure what good that does.  Yes, your barcode is a standard UPC-A General Use barcode, as applicable to all products, except pharmaceuticals. Our clients sell their products using our UPC or EAN codes all over the world in stores like Amazon, Home Depot, Sports Authority, Walgreens, and many more.  
    Correct UPC-A is General Use, I`d double check with Walmart or Target before ..... ooops, didn`t mention them... Maybe they did get by Amazon and Sports Authority at one time.  Yes, we are a real U.S.-based company with a real business office. Feel free to call to schedule a time to come see us at our Atlanta headquarters anytime!
    Okay, so you`re "real", I`m glad Scooby Doo isn`t going to answer the phone
     Yes, we not only supply you with the barcode numbers but we even create the actual UPC code image for you. Your $89 entitles you to a scan-quality Adobe Photoshop image with your numbers and bars already generated!!!
    Any printer or contract packager can do that  Yes, we even have a certificate available stating that the UPC numbers have been assigned by us to you and only you."
    What is "a certificate"? and okay, so it`s a pc of paper saying "the UPC numbers have been assigned by us to you and only you".  That`s probably EXACTLY what the certificate says.  I have a certificate saying I`m "Mother of the Year" from my 2 year old, but that doesn`t hold much water against my best friends... they too think they are mother of the year.  Unless you have THE "GS1 Company Prefix Certificate", it`s about as good as my "Mother of the Year"...  Which is pretty freakin fantastic if you ask me!!!  I have actually heard of a large retailer asking for your "Company Prefix Certificate" and if you don`t have it, you`re out of luck. 
    Today`s supply chain management and EDI stuff is so complicated and precise, if you`re not playing by the rules, you can`t play.  Again... not saying it`s right... just saying that`s the way it is.  I`m all about saving a buck or two... but I have not found a way around this one.  On the bottom of the certificate is clearly states
    "The GS1 Company Prefix and the corresponding U.P.C. company Prefix (thereafter "the Prefixes") are licensed for the sole use of the applicant and are restricted to the member to whom they are assigned.  Any other use of the numbers is prohibited, including but not limited to, renting, leasing or subdividing all or a portion of the Prefixes.  Upon the sale of the company, division or a product line, the sales Agreement should specify which party in the transaction will have use of the Prefixes.  Only one company may use the Prefixes."
    Having said all that, you can actually go your entire product life cycle w/o having UPC codes.  Online, specialty stores, local boutiques, no problem.  You WILL run into trouble as soon as you hit the big time.  I WILL be hitting the big time so this is a decision I have made for my business.
    I hope this helps clarify things.  Sorry Bert... did I give you more then you wanted?  So sorry!!!  If in my ramblings I am still not clear, post again... I`ll give it another shot!   Sometimes I get carried away!!!
     GrillCharmer2007-6-13 10:0:8
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    GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    Oh...I more thing...(sorry!!!)  Let`s say I was a t-shirt manufacturer and I had Small, Medium and Large in 3 colors... at $89.00 a pop from a reseller, that`s 9 UPC`s I need.  Not a great bargin now.
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    jp2007jp2007 subscriber Posts: 2
    Thank you all for the info and steering me in the right direction.  Now that I am a little more informed, I`ll take a look at the sites mentioned.  I`m sure I`ll be back soon with more questions.
    Thanks again
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    bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    Leslie, I knew if I hit the right button I would get a good explanation.  We don`t use or need UPC codes for our products but most of our customer`s do.  We have been asked where to get them and we have told them to Google `UPC` for more information.  Even though it has not involved us directly, I have always wondered why there were so many sources for something that should be coming from one place.  This is why we have stayed away from recommending any one source.  I think you have really helped me and the others on this thread to understand a valued point of view.  Next time one of our customers ask I will refer them to SUN.  Thanks!
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    GrillCharmerGrillCharmer subscriber Posts: 7
    Awwww shucks Bert... THANKS!  Sorry I turned what probably could have been a haiku into an epic... what can I say... I`m just wordy.  I would like to reiterate, there are times when it might be appropriate and even the "right" thing to do for some people.  For example if you only need 1 UPC because you want to get an item into a small individual retailer or a internet company, this probably would be the best way to go.  Just make sure you are aware of the limitations and potential problems.  MY choice is to go with the GS1 as it is required for my market. 
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    atheneumatheneum subscriber Posts: 0
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    atheneumatheneum subscriber Posts: 0
    Consider this though:
    For the smallest company prefix (the 9-digit one) GS1 will charge an initial fee of $750 mutiplied by a factor that is based on your existing or projected annual sales revenue.
    Then they will charge annual fees FOREVER. This year the annual fee for the 9-digit prefix was $150.
    No matter what the fees are for that year you must pay them or your numbers are gone. Yes, GS1 does raise the annual fees. They just did so this year on the 6-digit prefix (by 33%), 7-digit prefix (by 20%), and 8-digit prefix (by 5.5%).
    Over the life of your business, these annual fees will add up!
    Additionally, GS1 does not provide barcodes. It will be your responsibility and your extra cost to get the UPC numbers you obtain from them turned into the print-ready barcode graphics. While some packagers offer this service as a value-add, not all do it for free.
    The Team at Simply Barcodes (www.UPCcode.net)
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