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FAQ: What you need to know to buy barcodes


When you are starting out in a new business and are investigating the option to buy barcodes and setting up a barcoding system, there are a lot of questions that you may have that we can answer. For many, how they work is a mystery.  We are here to debunk the mystery and provide you with all the information and confidence you need to make a success of your business.

What are retail codes, EAN, UPC and 600 formats?

One of the most frequently asked questions is what a retail code is exactly and what is the difference between the EAN and UPC formats.  How do they differ from the specifically South African format called the 600 format? Good question. EAN and UPC are both American formats. However, they are used in the majority of retailers throughout the world. The truth is that these two formats are basically the same– except that the EAN has an extra digit – 0 – which is placed at the front, making it 13 digits long.  In South Africa, most retailers prefer to use the EAN since it is a lot more versatile and adaptable than the 12 digit UPC. Registered resellers are able to provide you with fully registered EAN and UPC when you buy barcodes for your small business.  The difference between these two and the South African 600 code is that the 600 is specifically South African and that they always start with 600.  It is necessary to purchase barcodes through the GS1 South Africa if you require the 600 prefix.

What are the benefits of barcoding and why is it necessary?

Another question that a lot of people ask is if it is really necessary to purchase barcodes for your products. What are the benefits of initiating a barcoding system?  Is it worth the investment?  To start with, most retailers, will require you to have barcodes on your products for them to consider stocking them. Therefore, by doing this you will open up new doors for your business by allowing more retailers to stock them. They have come to be seen as a sign of success and professionalism.  In addition, they will save you a lot of money in the long run.  Utilizing codes in your business will lower the risk of human error and make sure that the correct item is sold at the correct price and also assist in stock control.  As a business owner it is very important to be in control of your inventory. Making this possible when you buy barcodes, thereby giving you the power, you need to steer your business forward. We at  believe that it is definitely worth the investment and we are happy to partner with you by providing you much needed information in this regard with our informative articles on our website.

How many barcodes do I need?

Okay, so you have decided that you do want to buy barcodes and you have decided on what type you need. The next big question that comes up is how many do I need?  The answer to this question is that you will require a separate and unique one for every variation and size of your product.  An example of this is that if you are selling Shampoo in two different sizes and two different variations, you will need to buy four.

What about QR codes?

What are QR codes and how can I use them to boost my business?  Quick Response codes can be defined as two dimensional and consist of dots and other shapes arranged on a square image. This code can store a lot of information, but normally stores a URL.  Customers can scan them with their smart phones, and this will link them to your website.  They are used predominantly to advertise any promotions or specials and to raise awareness of your business and what you can offer the community.  SnapScan and other such payment applications also make use of QRC’s to allow customers to make payment with their smartphones instead of paying with cash or credit card.  You can find companies online that are able to provide you with top quality QRC’s within one hour to assist you in promoting your business and ensuring that it is a success. This is a very modern concept and is becoming the way of the future, you can even use them on your business cards because as we previously mentioned they can link to a URL or any specific web page that you would like your potential clients to peruse.

How do I buy barcodes for my business in South Africa? Firstly, you need to decide how many you need and contact a reputable reseller or GS1 for a quote.  There are specific packages for specific amounts, or you can request an individualised custom quote. The next step is for you to pay for your order.  This can be done via PayFast on the website, or via eft or bank transfer.  After this step has been completed and your proof of payment has been received, they will need to know what name you would like your pack registered under. A personal name or a company name will both be acceptable. And then your pack will be registered under this name and sent to you via email. This is a quick and easy process and you should get your pack in record time.

What I do after I purchase barcodes and have received them?

There are two options. Firstly, you can include high resolution image into your package design. In this way, the scannable image will automatically be on each product every time it is manufactured, or your labels are printed. Secondly, you can print the image onto labels or stickers which can then be individually stuck onto each product.

We hope this article has provided you with some much needed information with regards to your decision to purchase barcodes for your business or for your newly launched products that you are placing into retail.

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Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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