3. Decide What Type of Barcode You Need

There are many formats of barcodes. The barcode formats you need for products scanned at point-of-sale (or checkout) are different from the ones you need for products scanned in a distribution center or a warehouse. So your first step is to consider where your barcode will be scanned. Select where your barcode will be scanned:

Point-of-Sale (checkout)
If your product will be sold at retail point-of-sale (or checkout) you’ll want to use a UPC-A barcode. It’s the most common barcode required by retailers in North America. U.P.C. barcodes ensure that all products are properly identified at retail point-of-sale. The U.P.C. barcode enables rapid product scanning, resulting in more accurate data that can be used by trading partners.


Many online retailers use the same process as physical stores. Most require that you assign a GTIN to your products. In fact, the same GTIN can be used. As for barcoding your products, many do require that a U.P.C. barcode be placed on your items. As a best practice, you should review your customer’s vendor requirements to help you get started.

Inconsistent or incorrect usage of U.P.C.s/GTINs can make finding and buying products online difficult for consumers—and when consumers can’t find what they want when they want it, brands and retailers lose an opportunity for their product to be discovered.


  • See how GS1 Identification Numbers make it easier for consumers to find products online. Watch the It's Just Commerce video.

If your products will pass through a warehouse, you’ll need to identify units such as cartons, cases, and pallets. There are two different barcodes that are most commonly used to identify cases: ITF-14 barcodes and GS1-128 barcodes.

ITF-14 barcodes will contain only the GTIN. The advantage of ITF-14 barcodes is that they can be pre-printed directly on corrugated material, such as boxes. This saves you time and money.

GS1-128 barcodes also contain the GTIN, but can also encode additional product information, including batch/lot number, weight, or expiration date. This is done by using Application Identifiers, or AIs, with the barcode. When scanning, AIs are used with the barcode to communicate the specific type of information related to your product’s batch number, weight, or expiration date, and are used in multiple industries.


Once you’ve selected the barcode you need, you’re ready to find out how to:
Step 4. Get the Barcodes on Your Products