Determining the Number of Barcodes Needed
Determining the number of barcodes needed is one of the first tasks a company needs to do before applying for barcodes. The GS1 licensing fees and renewals can be expensive so companies need to estimate their barcode needs. Our consultants are available to help provide guidance because companies can set themselves up for failure before they begin.
Essentially, every product and product variant (size, color, etc) will require a unique GTIN (UPC). The video below provides a great explanation on how companies should address this initial task.
UPC Company Prefix Capacity
The table below illustrates how UPC Company Prefix length establishes the number of GTINs you can assign. A UPC is 12 digits long and is made up of the prefix, and item number, and a check digit. The longer the prefix the less UPCs you can assign. Longer UPC Company Prefixes are less expensive and short prefixes more expensive.
As the table indicates, price per GTIN decreases significantly for each step up in capacity. Let’s say you needed GTINs (UPCs) for 400 products; it makes more sense to get the 1,000 capacity prefix ($3,500) than 4 – 100 capacity prefixes ($4,000). This is something to consider as you determine the number of barcodes you will need.
How does a company determine how the amount of barcodes they need?
As noted above, every variation of a product will need its own GTIN (UPC). If a product comes in different colors or patterns, each different color or pattern will need a UPC. If a product comes in different sizes, each size will need it’s own UPC.
The same is true for varying packaging configurations. A plastic bottle of sparkling water will need a different UPC than the same sparkling water in a glass bottle. The same kind of baby shampoo with and without a bundled toy will need different UPCs for each type of packaging.
Companies need to also consider how their products might change in the near future. Any time a change is made that impacts how a retailer or consumer might assess an item, a new GTIN needs to be assigned. Some examples:
- Net weight changed from 7 oz. to 10 oz.
- Adding a feature to a product
- Adding or removing certain ingredients
- Making a product “gluten free”
For companies that will ship cartons consisting of all the same products, the carton level GTIN is based on the UPC of the product so additional assignments are not needed. But for companies that will ship assortments of items and require a GTIN for those cartons, each assortment will need its own assignment – an assignment that cannot be used on another product.
Fashion, Apparel, and Seasonal Products
Apparel is a GTIN-intensive category. Consider that clothing often comes in many sizes and colors, with each unique size and color combination requiring their own assignment. Additionally, if every season brings new items for your company, you will need to consider not just your immediate needs but also how many UPC assignments you will need for every new rollout and every new year.
Determining your barcode needs is important now, but also important to revisit from time to time. We recommend that companies do this twice a year. Take stock of how many GTIN assignments you have used and forecast for any new items or changes that could be coming soon.
Companies work with Bar Code Graphics through either our GS1 Barcode Service (new GS1 membership) or GS1 Barcode Support (current GS1 members) means that you’ll always have access to a live person to walk you through assigning UPCs and answer your questions for any new product or product change. Both come with a credit equal to our fees towards label printing, digital barcodes or UPC testing , so it makes signing up an easy decision.
Please feel free to contact us at 888-540-6885 or use the Live Chat button below.