A UPC code: what is it?

Since the early 1970s, UPC codes have been utilized in brick-and-mortar establishments for various types of transactions. From supermarkets to general retail, they are employed in everything. Whether your product is being sold in-store or online, a UPC barcode is essential given the surge in online e-commerce from major players like Amazon and Walmart.

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Small and large businesses can sell their products thanks to a UPC code; barcodes are used on common items including food, coffee, household goods, and clothing. In order to help companies reach their objectives and scale their growth, GS1 US contributes. Genuine UPC barcodes from GS1 US enable companies to market their goods internationally. Your little business idea might grow and become a well-known and cherished enterprise with the assistance of GS1 US.

A UPC code: what is it?

A product’s UPC code, or Universal Product Code, is a set of black lines used to identify it. This symbol is encoded with the GTIN, a set of integers that together form a full barcode. At the point of sale, these lines and numbers are scanned together with the UPC. They are what make up a barcode, and they frequently let systems recognize objects and check prices correctly.

Retailers and manufacturers can precisely track products in their inventory with the help of a UPC code. Increased inventory management and recall accuracy are made possible by this. When paired with extra details like batch/lot numbers, an appropriate UPC code enables a business to quickly and precisely retrieve faulty goods from a distributor, merchant, or warehouse before they are made available to the general public. Contaminated food, poisoned medical equipment, medications, and defective things that could harm other people are examples of damaged items.

Is a UPC required?

It is impossible to trace and sell your inventory through the supply chain without a working UPC code. Because UPC codes make it possible to precisely compute current inventory, products sold, and demand, they enable accurate sales forecasting for your product. The majority of shops demand a UPC number on products in order to sell them.

UPCs enable you to sell your goods anywhere and assist you in tracking sales as a manufacturer or vendor. You can track shipments with the use of certain barcode types, such as the GS1-128 barcode. With a GS1 US UPC barcode, you can sell your goods wherever. They are essential to merchants’ inventory control and return processing operations. GS1 US offers reliable UPC barcodes that are crucial for selling your product to brick-and-mortar stores as well as online. These barcodes are used throughout the supply chain.


What distinguishes a UPC code from an SKU? This is a commonly asked question: a stock keeping unit, or SKU, is a tracking measure used internally by merchants. Retailers can better manage their inventory by using an SKU number to identify distinct products linked to a manufacturer’s UPC code.

A SKU number is internal and was generated by a particular brand or merchant, whereas a UPC code is recognized worldwide for that product. They can more precisely keep an eye on the store’s inventory thanks to it. Certain products may be available in many colors and sizes. Although each one will have a unique barcode, a retailer can assign an SKU to that product type so that they can keep track of all the barcodes related to that particular item.

For instance, a merchant selling shoes might have a separate UPC for each color and size variation. In order to keep track of all the numerous UPCs, the retailer would generate a single, unique SKU number. The same product may be sold by two merchants using identical UPC numbers, but each will have its own SKU number.

GTIN versus UPC

An other commonly posed query concerns the distinction between a GTIN and a UPC. When obtaining a barcode license from GS1 US, a GTIN and a UPC are required. The UPC code is the barcode’s scannable component, while the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is the identifying number embedded on the bottom of the barcode.

The two components that make up the barcode are a GTIN and a UPC combined. Essentially the same item is described by a barcode, UPC, and GTIN; it’s the typical, full barcode you see in stores.

Ways to Obtain a UPC Code

You must first decide how many barcodes you will require and how many products you intend to sell before you can obtain a barcode.

Choose the kind of barcode you require; distinct barcode types are intended for use with particular kinds of items. Find out which barcode is best for your company by using our handy guide.

Select the bundle that best fits your needs! For your business, GS1 US offers bulk UPC barcode packages and single GTINs for your various merchandise.