Universal Product Code (UPC)

What is Universal Product Code (UPC)?

A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a graphic and numerical code printed on retail packages and is often referred to as a barcode. It helps identify specific items with a machine-readable barcode and a unique 12-digit number underneath the black bars.

The UPC makes it easier to identify specific product features. The two codes represent an item, its size, the brand name, and color. Although the Universal Product Code was invented to speed up the checkout processes at grocery stores, it has become a universal tool for all businesses with extensive inventories.

UPCs make it easier to track recalls, issue product alerts, or understand item movement from creation to distribution. 

How Does a UPC Help Online Businesses?

UPCs help brick-and-mortar stores track internal inventory. E-commerce operators find the Universal Product Code is helpful for warehouse tracking, shipping activities, and product movement.

Companies must apply to become part of the UPC system. Once the application gets accepted, businesses can sell coded items online or in-person to create the unique identifiers needed for global commerce.

This process occurs through GS1.

Companies receive a six-digit identification number for their UPC. This part of the ID identifies the specific manufacturer of the product.

The next five digits are the item number of the UPC. It references the actual product. Each company must have someone responsible for issuing this part of the code.

Since most products have numerous variations, each difference qualifies for a new UPC. 

The final number is called the “check digit.” It confirms the UPC’s validity to the scanner. If incorrect, the Universal Product Code won’t scan.

UPCs make it easier to track information. That means the speed of business improves for e-commerce entities with this resource. 

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