Everything You Need to Know About Barcodes, UPCs and All Amazon Labels


Many retailers and resellers are confused with the concept of 'barcodes', though it is one of the simplest ones. How can I know it? I was a novice some time ago and I was confused too.

How do people get that codes? What do they mean?.. All these questions are normal for newbies. And I'll tell you everything you need to know about barcodes in this article.

In fact, the principle of their work is simple.

Here is an example of decryption of a code:

The last UPC code digit or a check digit. It helps to find out if the whole code was scanned correctly. Let's look at the example. It will be a random code '63938200039'.

  1. We should plus the 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 digits (that have odd positions). 6+9+8+0+0+9 = 32
  2. It should be multiplied by 3 = 96.
  3. Let's add numbers 2, 4, 6, 8,10 (that have even positions). 3+3+2+0+3 = 11.
  4. Add this number to another one that we got during the second step. 11+96 = 107.
  5. Take the number from the fourth step. To get your check digit, find out a number that will give a sum multiple to 10

when added to 107. In our case, it equals 3. So, our check digit is 3.

You may think that it sounds like something too much hard for understanding, but don't hurry up to make conclusions! It's easier than it seems!


Barcodes VS UPCs

Firstly, you need to understand that such a code consists of two parts: a universal item code and a barcode that represents that number and makes a product being scanned quickly. Everyone knows that in case a code can't be scanned, a cashier can just type 12 code's digits. The result will be the same as it would be with the use of a scanner.

barcodes upc

There are thousands of websites that can help you to generate barcodes. Try them! Type your telephone number into a couple of sites and get a working scannable barcode that will mean your number!

As you have already noticed, getting a barcode is easy and free, unlike generating a UPC code.


Buying UPCs

In general, UPCs are 12-13 digit codes that is used only for one item and for nothing else on this planet. I think that you get why it's so important. Let's imagine a situation when Apple sells an iPhone with the code 0-62222-90876-2 and Samsung sells a Galaxy S8 with the code 0-62222-90876-2 as well. A code means the same item, but they are actually different. It would be an insanity, wouldn't it?

Due to this fact, there are special authorities that control using UPCs. For example, GS1 does it in the US and Canada. This can seem similar to the situation with domain names which are allocated by ICANN. You pay GS1 $1000 per year and get around a thousand of unique UPCs that guaranteed won't be used for something else except your items. GS1 doesn't save any info on the products itself, they don't care about its dimensions and color, they just care about exclusiveness of numbers.

Note that every item that differs by size, color,etc should have its own UPC. For example, if you sell T-shirts in size XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL and in two colors (black and white), you'll need to get 12 UPC codes for them.


Individual UPCs

There are also companies ready to sell UPCs individually. They pay GS1 a sum around $900 and get one thousand of UPCs that sell further individually for $2 each. With a code, you get a promise that a company won't sell the same code to someone else. But I hope that you won't be scammed, so check the info about every company carefully.

Do I need a UPC or a barcode?

There is a nice news that you don't need any codes, if you sell your imported items to the consumer directly. You need them only in case you work with other retailers as it's a exactly retail phenomenon. No one cares whether imported things have those codes.

market codes

Almost all retailers require a barcode from you, in case you sell your items to their shops. Big ones such as Walmart require buying codes from an  authorized agency like GS1, not from a reseller.


What about Amazon and FBA?

As far as I (and maybe you too) know, FBA requires a code on every item. This special code is called FNSKU. It is similar to a UPC code and is unique for each Amazon product. In other words, it's original Amazon's version of UPC codes.

amazon codes

Amazon assigns an ASIN and a FNSKU to a private label product (if you have Amazon Seller Pro account) and then it will be fulfilled by Amazon. You can print them for free.

If you import your items from China, the code will likely look like the above one. You can ask your supplier to add your FNSKUs to the products on his factory and save your time, if you don't plan to resell those items to retailers.



As you've already noticed, these codes are easy to understand. I hope that my article has cleared up your confusion regarding them. Don't hesitate to contact me, if you still have some questions left!

Thank you for reading and see you later in my future articles! ;)