What is a UPC (Universal Product Code)? – How to Find UPC

UPC is a barcode symbology widely used in the United States and other countries. It consists of 12 digits that uniquely identify a product.

You can find the code on most products that you buy in stores.

This blog post will give you the details of it.

Universal Product Code Definition

A Universal Product Code is a unique code assigned to every item sold in the store. The code helps identify the product, store traffic trends, and inventory details.

That helps further in maintaining complete ordering information for the business.

It provides real-time data to the store or the super-market to ensure they never run out of stock for fast-moving items. It also makes the billing system easy and swift.

UPC-A (includes zero) and UPC-E (does not have zero) are two main types of Universal Product Code.

UPC Symbology

It is made up of four parts:

  1. The number system identifies the type of product;
  2. The manufacturer code, which UCC Council assigns to a specific company;
  3. A unique item identifier or SKU, which is posted by the manufacturer for each product they make; and,
  4. A check digit is calculated using a special algorithm to ensure valid code.

The first digit indicates the product type, and the following five digits are a unique code provided to the vendor. Thus, the vendor will have the same code even if the store differs.

The following five digits act as the unique reference specified for the product, and the last digit will be the check digit which is generally used to cross-check if it is correct.

It is scanned against a scanner that reads the bar code and lets the system know if everything is okay or not.

Universal Product Code decoding example

What are the steps to get Universal Product Code for a product?

  • The first step is to get the GS1(Global standard Organization, also known as Unifor Code Council) company prefix. Then, you have to fill out the online application form and sign up for a prefix capacity plan to get it. It shows the number of universal product codes under your company prefix.
  • You have to pay the fee for the code. A prefix capacity plan can be expensive. So make sure that the plan you have chosen will accommodate the long-term use of your business.
  • Once you pay the fee, GS1 allocates a 6-digit number with the manufacturer identification number.  This number becomes the first six digits of the universal product code on all your company’s products.
  • After getting your company prefix, you can give your product internal product numbers (5-digits). You have the freedom to choose your digits, but each product should have a unique UPC. Ensure that the exact number is not used for more than one product. This 5-digit  number represents the product itself.
  • After generating your company prefix and internal product code, generate your check digit. It generates after several calculations by adding and multiplying digits in the code based on an algorithm monitored by the global standard organization(GS1). Manually also, you can calculate the check digit.
  • Confirm check digit is correct or not. If the check digit is incorrect, UPC will not scan properly.
  • Once all three sets of digits, company prefix, internal product code, and check code, are generated, register this number with GS1 so that you will tie your product information to the number you have created.

How many types of bar codes are there?

There are three types of bar codes. They are
1. Universal Product Code (UPC)
2. International Article Number (IAN)
3. International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

Universal Product Code

Universal Product Codes Location

They can be found on most products that you buy in stores. The code is usually located somewhere on the product packaging, and you may also print it on the product. They are also found in product manuals, promotional materials, and shipping boxes.

How to Find a Manufacturer’s UPC

Suppose you want to find the Universal Product Code for a specific product. There are several ways to do so. You can visit the manufacturer’s website or contact them directly to ask for the code. You can also use a UPC lookup tool to find the code. These tools are widely available online, and they are free to use.

When using a lookup tool, you need the product’s name or SKU number. You can usually find the SKU number on the product packaging or in the product manual. Once you have entered the information into the lookup tool, it will return the Universal Product Code for that product.

UPC Lookup Tools

These tools allow you to search for product codes by keyword or browse by category. They also provide information about the product, such as the manufacturer’s name and address and photos and descriptions. Some tools even let you add products to your inventory.

One example is GSOne Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) Database.

Different types of UPC codes

There are a few different types of Universal Product Codes. The most common type is the 12-digit code used to track products in stores. Codes can also be 6 or 9 digits long. The 6-digit code is used to track products sold in vending machines, and the 9-digit code is used to track online products.

Universal Product Code Generator

A Universal Product Code Generator is a tool that allows you to create Universal Product Codes for your products. This tool is helpful if you want to make your barcodes for tracking purposes or if you want to include them on your product packaging.

There are several generators available online. Most of these tools are free to use and easy to use. You need to enter the information about your product, such as the name and SKU number, and the generator will create a valid code for you.

UPC Barcode Specifications

The Universal Product Code Barcode Specifications are guidelines that describe how they should be formatted and used. These specifications are maintained by the Universal Code Council (UCC), which is a nonprofit organization that oversees the system.

The specifications define the following:

  • The structure and format
  • The type of information that can be encoded
  • How it should be scanned and read
  • They use it in retail environments
  • They use it in other industries

The Universal Product Code Barcode Specifications are essential for businesses to create or use barcodes. By following the guidelines in these specifications, companies can ensure that their barcodes will be compatible with scanning equipment and that they will be readable in retail stores.

Universal Product Code Requirements

To create a barcode, you need to encode the product’s name or SKU number into a barcode format. There are some free online tools that you can use to do this. Once you have created the barcode, you can print it out and attach it to your packaging.

Retail scanners scan and read codes, automatically entering the product information into the store’s database. This allows businesses to track their inventory and sales without manually entering the information into their database.

Advantages of UPC

  • They are easy to use and can be scanned by retail scanners.
  • They speed up the checkout process in stores.
  • They help businesses track their inventory and sales.
  • They can be used to create marketing materials such as flyers and product labels.
  • They are a global standard and are accepted in most countries.

Disadvantages of UPC

  • Barcodes can be expensive to create and print.
  • They are not always accepted in all countries.
  • They can be challenging to create without using a barcode generator tool.
  • They may not be suitable for all products or businesses.
  • They require special scanning equipment to read them correctly

Conclusion

In this post, you learned what Universal Product Codes are and how businesses can use them. You also learned about their advantages and disadvantages of them.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!