Your Guide To Getting Product Barcodes In NZ

What’s the Best Way to Get a Barcode for My Product?

Barcodes are vital for products to move through the fulfilment chain from a storage warehouse to a retailer and eventually to the end-user or consumer. They allow businesses to identify and track individual products and product groups (like standardised ‘master cases’ and standard pallet-loads).

One of our ecommerce clients recently asked us what the best solution is to obtain barcodes for their products.

Since we redesigned the client’s website and started advertising campaigns earlier this year, they decided to expand and sell their products in a popular New Zealand retail store.

We shared our experience with them, and on reflection we thought there may be other NZ businesses that could benefit from the same information. In our view, there are two main options:

Option 1: Official ‘GS1’ Barcodes

The benefits of GS1 (the ‘new’ international barcode authority) are based on the international recognition of the organisation. GS1 allows you to register and associate a barcode with a product, brand, size, quantity and all kinds of other information on the official GS1 database. This database is universally available and independently verifiable, and it gives your customers more trust in the authenticity of your product. It also leaves zero doubt about the ownership of the intellectual property of the product.

GS1 Costs

Registering with GS1 requires an annual subscription ($370 NZD and up, depending on your gross annual turnover). The minimum spend on barcode licences is $100 NZD (for 100 barcodes) and there are potentially other hidden costs (e.g., all prices are GST exclusive). You never ‘own’ GS1 barcodes; you only licence them.

GS1 Takeaways

GS1 also offers Global Location Numbers, B2B data, extensive training modules and many more technical products and services. If you are primarily concerned about scalability, continuity of numbers, transparency, accountability to consumers, and doing things the ‘official way,’ GS1 is the best option.

A cheaper, practical alternative to GS1 for small business is to buy ‘resold’ barcodes.

package barcodes

Option 2: Resold Barcodes

What Are Resold Barcodes?

Resold barcodes, produced by the ‘old’ barcode authority, all come from the same original stash of a few million barcodes that predate GS1 licensing, and they are all internationally recognised as barcodes.

There is no official way to register the product that you associate with a resold barcode. We don’t buy in to 3rd party ‘barcode registries’ – GS1 is the only globally recognised centralised barcode authority.

The Resold Barcode Risk

Resold barcodes are essentially new because they have never been allocated or associated with a product … at least, they shouldn’t have been. Hypothetically, bad actors can ‘steal’ barcodes by simply generating a barcode from a random (but valid) number to use for their own product. We’ve never seen this issue before first-hand, but we’ve heard plenty of stories on Amazon in the US.

Does That Matter to Me?

In practice, we’ve found that coincidental ‘stolen’ barcodes wouldn’t usually be an issue with most private stores or logistics companies because if you email your rep and explain/assert that you are the real owner of the resold barcode, they will likely honour your association in their system.

Resold Barcode Costs

As of June 2022, resold barcodes are priced at 8 barcodes for $392 NZD from barcodes.co.nz, while speedybarcodes.com offers 25 barcodes for $25 USD or 50 barcodes for $35 USD.

Barcodes are Not All Equal

A barcode is essentially a computer-readable number. There’s no secret to it – the number that a barcode represents is usually written plainly below the bars. The different-width lines allow a scanner to easily, reliably grab the number.

Barcodes have evolved to suit a range of separate markets and industries. In the US, the most widely-accepted format is the UPC-12 (Universal Product Code), and it has 12 digits (11 data numerals and a ‘check digit’).

Europe added another digit to the front of the code to increase the number of available barcodes, creating the EAN-13 (European Article Number) style barcode. EAN is a superset of UPC, which means any UPC is also a valid EAN (but with an extra 0 at the start).

You will probably also be familiar with 2-dimensional barcodes (QR codes).

EAN format barcodes are the most popular type in New Zealand. If purchasing a resold barcode from a US provider, you will usually receive both the American UPC-style and international EAN-style barcode graphics, which are just different versions of the same code.

Many barcode scanners or POS systems can deal with both UPC and EAN codes, but it’s worth talking to your warehouses and distributors to make sure you label your products with the right kind of barcode graphic.

It’s usually a good idea to buy a few more barcodes than you think you need! Make sure to read about how barcodes should be assigned to products with variations (colours, flavours, sizes). Consider storage, transport arrangements and wholesale lots. Finally, think about future expansion of your product range. We feel it would have been nicer to have all our product barcodes in one sequential block, rather than in 5 different groups of numbers.

When you choose Digital Pie, you choose a company that goes the extra mile to help your business succeed. We are more than a website design and development company and are happy to pass our knowledge on to you.

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