Barcodes Understood And Explained

The little black and white lines that appear on almost every item that you buy at a supermarket are known as barcodes. They are seemingly everywhere and they are unique to every product. In many ways they are almost like fingerprints for produce. But how do they work and where do they come from and if you wanted to package and sell something to a supermarket would you just be able to make your own barcode? It’s amazing how little thought we pay to these barcodes despite the fact that they are part and parcel of our daily lives. Here are a few things about barcodes that you might not have realised. 

Can you make your own barcodes? 

The short answer to this question is yes, but it is probably an answer that needs some explanation. Barcodes Australia are just data encoded into a format that is legible to a computer. The truth about barcodes is that they need to be relevant to the environment in which they will be read. As such is you make and add gs1 barcode to a product that is never going to be sold outside of your retail environment then you can create any barcode that you want. But if your product is going to be shipped and sold elsewhere then it needs to be captured and loaded onto the new retailer’s database.  

What information do they contain? 

The information contained on barcodes is not complicated or overly detailed. What it is though is standardized. In the old days a sales person would make a manual note of every item that was sold so things could be tracked. It was the old case of GIGO or garbage in, garbage out. In other words if the tracking was not standardised it became very hard to monitor. In short that is what barcoding helped to resolve. The information contained in the code pertains to the origin, size, price and nature of the product. 

Could you include more information? 

The traditional barcode that looks like a series of straight black lines on a white background is fairly limited in terms of the amount of information that it can contain. But those limitations were solved when the one dimensional barcode was advanced and the two dimensional code came into being. Also know as a QR code, these complicated squares that are often scanned by mobile phones, contain significantly more information. 

Is it law for packaging to contain a barcode? 

There are no government laws that state barcodes must be applied but it certainly makes things easier to sell your product if it arrives in the retail ecosystem with a ready printed barcode. Certainly lots of bigger retailers will insist that your product must have a barcode if they are to stock it. To do so you should register your product with GS1 which is the global organization that is responsible for keeping and maintaining barcodes. Once you have done this you will not only make it easier to move your product you will also help to protect yourself from counterfeiting and imposter brands.