What is a barcode: Here's everything you
need to know

Barcoding has become an important step in export trade to ease product identification, inventory and logistics management across the world. In this blog, understand different types of barcodes and how to obtain them.
what is bar code
With increasing trade between countries, barcodes have become important for product identification, hassle-free logistics and safe import-export across the world. There’s no doubt that technology is increasingly becoming a driving factor in most industries. With digitization comes easy and effective business techniques like the introduction of barcodes. The use of barcodes helps in complying with the best trading practices globally, along with making export smooth and error-free.

What is a barcode?

A barcode is a rectangular or square-shaped image on a product, which contains a series of black and white lines arranged in unique patterns with a few digits attached – this is commonly referred to as code. This image can be read or interpreted by a scanner.

The objective of a barcode is to ensure product identification post manufacturing – during shipping and delivery. For instance, a range of similar products are shipped on a regular basis from India to the US. Each of these products might need to be delivered at different locations. In such cases, these barcodes can be used to identify and track products. When a bar code is applied to the outer packaging of a product, it helps in recognizing the product at the retail stores and while exporting, in tracking the inventory at warehouses, on invoices to help in price identification.

Types of barcodes

There are many types of barcode configurations that are used across industries worldwide. Each of these barcodes differ in size, linearity, material, etc. and whether they have checksum1.
• Linearity of the barcode is the scannable area.
• Capacity refers to the potential combinations that can be made with the barcode format.
• A checksum is a standardized part of the barcode that verifies that the information scanned from the barcode is correct.
Some of the most commonly used barcodes are:

1-dimensional barcodes:

These codes are formed with a combination of numbers with alphabet.
1. UPC (Universal Product Code) Codes:
These are 12-digit codes that contain information about the manufacturer along with the unique details of the product like product type, size, and color.

2. EAN (European Article Number) codes:
EAN is a standardized barcode image that represents the 13-digit GTIN on most products customers shop for in the UK and globally, except North America (USA & Canada). It includes the origin of the country, manufacturer and product number.

2-Dimensional barcodes:
Square or rectangular shaped two-dimensional barcodes contain a number of dots arranged in a unique pattern. These barcodes are considered to be more secure and hold larger amount of information in small space. Quick Response or QR codes are the most commonly used 2D barcodes these days.

How to obtain a barcode for your business?

Global Standards 1 or GS1 is an international organization that manages barcode standards used by across retail sector, manufacturers, and suppliers globally. As a global non-profit standards organization, GS1 establishes general standards as well as specific barcode standards for identification, sharing, and use to improve global trade and collaboration. In India, GS1 India manages and issues barcodes for locally made products. These barcodes are accepted by major retailers and distributors all over the world.

To obtain a GS1 barcode, the first step is to register with GS1 and obtain GTIN. It is a unique code given to a trade item or product. After registering with GS1, the user gets access to the Datakart website from where they can obtain more GTIN for their products. Each product requires a different GTIN. A seller can also upload and manage all their product information on this website. This information and availability of products will be visible to all potential customers across the globe, when they scan the product using their mobile phones. Once obtained, the printed barcode quality must be verified by the nearest GS1 India office.

Advantages of using barcodes in ecommerce exports

1. Increased accuracy and speed

Barcodes on products are a safer and smarter way to process data related to each shipment or trade item than manually entered data. The processing speed and ease involved in managing bulk shipments in real time is an advantage to exporters.

2. Reduced errors and risk of loss

Since every barcode is processed using technology with a scanner, the chances of errors are relatively lower. This information can be seen, edited or deleted easily when required. With increasing trade, physical storage of product data is often unreliable and can lead to losses. Barcoding is more convenient compared to maintaining data sheets and manually updating information for each product.

3. Better inventory management

To keep an organized track of inventory, barcodes are highly reliable and recommended. It is easy to track the shipment and get a clearer idea of how many products are already stored in the warehouse and what amount of space is empty for new inventory or stock.

4. Lower cost implementation

Installing a barcode system is quick and easy, thus, reducing costs.
Barcodes are undoubtedly an important part of e-commerce exports. With increasing demand for Indian products in the international markets and growing exports, businesses and MSMEs are opting for online exports. Amazon Global Selling enables brands, wholesalers, manufacturers, exporters and small businesses to expand internationally and sell in 18+ marketplaces like USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, UAE and more. This opens up opportunities for exporters to reach millions of customers with easy registration, simple listing and assistance in shipping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is barcode mandatory for export?
DGFT has made barcoding mandatory for exports for a few product categories. Get more details here.
What information is stored in barcode?
Barcode comprises important details like product price, weight, date of manufacturing, name of the company/manufacturer, country code, etc. This unique code can be used anywhere in the world to enquire about the details of that particular product.
Published on January 27, 2022.

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*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.

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