UPC Codes — Where Do You Get Them?

Last article we talked about if you need UPC Codes.  Today, I will be sharing where you can get UPC codes.

The ‘official’ site to buy UPC barcodes is GS1. The website list all the information you will need to purchase your own unique codes.  Pricing, from their website link, is listed below:

Number of Items Needing a Barcode/GTIN* Initial Fee Annual Renewal Fee
1 – 10 $250 $50
1 – 100 $750 $150
1 – 1,000 $2,500 $500
1 – 10,000 $6,500 $1,300
1 – 100,000 $10,500 $2,100
NDC/NHRIC Company Prefix  $10,500 $2,100

But there are less expensive places to buy your codes.  Following is an excerpt of a discussion in our Selling to Retailers Mastermind Group about the different options for purchasing codes for your products:UPC Codes — Where Do You Get Them?

  • Barcodestalk  — Prices go from $7.50 for one, down to 85 cents each for 200 bar codes, and then even lower at big quantities.
  • Nationwidebarcode — Starting at $6.50 for 1 and $.55 each for 250.

So what is the difference — other than price?  Our Mastermind members explain … :

–…if you are going to do business with a large chain, e.g. Walmart (or so I am told), you will need the “official” barcodes, as when they scan it in, it needs to come up connected to your product automatically…. Unlike the generic bar codes which work in most venues, but the product ID must then be manually tied to the barcode via inputting into the store system. With Amazon’s seller central, all they care about is a unique bar code that falls within the range of authorized numbers.

–Many moons ago, the Uniform Code Council (now GS1) gave away blocks of 100,000 codes for free. I think it was about 15 years ago, they decided to make oodles of money off the codes instead, and started charging $750 for a block of 100 codes, and an annual renewal of $150. They even decided that those who got FREE codes previously would now have to pay an annual fee. Oregon gourmet foods association sued, and the court sided with them, so UCC could no longer retroactively charge fees for what was previously given away for free. I am less clear on what has transpired since, but it is something like this: Owners of some of those previous large blocks wanted the right to resell them… and so placed another lawsuit and won, so it opened up a huge reseller market, now fully legit. We have used some of the reseller barcodes on Amazon and at small chains with no problems. We have HEARD that this will not work with big boxes such as Walmart etc, but we have no verification in this group, beyond what people “heard”.

–I got my UPC codes from EBay and use then on Amazon with no issues. I don’t think it’s wise to spend money on a UPC code on a “if” or “maybe” a big box retailer requires it. Until order is in hand and the retailer requires it, I personally would not spend money on it.

— If you buy the expensive barcodes from the UCC (GS1) then you get your own prefix (i.e. a series of numbers at the beginning of each code that are unique to you). If you are buying from a reseller then you are using prefixes that are assigned to them.  In real terms this isn’t important at all and you’re far better off buying from a reseller for a few dollars with no annual fee.  If, at a time in the future you choose to work with large companies (like WalMart) who insist you have your own prefixes then – and only then – should you consider investing in the UCC-issued codes.

— I’m planning to sell to the smaller stores first (using the less expensive codes), then when I grow to a larger production level, get into bigger box stores, then change over to the more expensive barcodes at that time.

With the options listed above, you can decide for yourself which is the best option for you and your products.

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