Top 12 Myths about UPC Barcodes

There are several subjects with different myths; the myths about barcodes rank high with the rest. Most times, these myths are referred to as urban myths. Well, since you have heard about urban myths, it’s a lot easier to believe the myths about barcodes. Like most myths, there are several misconceptions about them, as they are rumored to be true and untrue. Misconceptions about barcodes can be broken down into two major categories. The first category leads to problems, while the second problem is about misconception problems themselves. This article intends to correct those misconceptions and myths about barcodes and help you gain the right perspective about them. 

Myth 1 – All barcodes must be purchased from GS1

Quite a number of retailers believe in acquiring their barcodes directly from GS1. This is because a large majority of these retailers are part of the GS1 in some aspects. However, since these companies are private companies, the agreements with their suppliers must be respected. Fortunately, more than 95%+ of businesses do not have this agreement in place and require only legal and authentic barcodes. This implies that companies can decide to purchase their barcodes anywhere they want to, including from where the prices are significantly cheaper the GS1 and do not have any renewal fees.

Myth 2 – The GS1 is a government organization

The GS1 (formerly the Uniform Code Council) is not a government organization, they are simply a “non-profit” organization created in the 1970s.  Though considered a non-profit, they charge steep prices and renewal fees for all the codes purchased today from the GS1. It should also come as no surprise that the founders, many board members, and board of governors of GS1 are also part of the very stores that force you to rent from them.  Luckily, when you purchase from us, you can bypass a lot of their added fees due to a lawsuit they lost in 2002 when they first started adding renewal fees.

Myth 3 – Every Barcode is made up of 666

The number 666 has been dreaded and feared amongst several religious and sociocultural groups. In fact, many cultural beliefs that it is a negative sign or a bad omen. Superstition stems from the Holy Bible in the book of revelation, chapter 13. Due to these superstitions,  many people believe that 666 does exist in every barcode. This assumption is untrue and has slowly become a myth. Barcodes comprise 7 different forms of white and black lines, forming a definite sequence until a pattern is formed.

All products are given a specific type of number which typically contain 12 or 13 digits. These digits consist of the prefix digits, flying digits, and check digits. 

Several people’s beliefs about the barcodes being 666 started due to the existence of the guard bars. The guard bars are consistent throughout the patterns of the barcode and are positioned at the front, middle, and back of every barcode pattern. Furthermore, they are perceived as the number 6, creating the illusion of 666. However, the digits on the barcodes are scanned and recorded as the numbers under the actual barcode. 

Myth 4 – There is Hidden Product Info Inside of Barcodes

UPCs are 12 digits long and barcodes are simply the UPCs in barcode form such that they can be scanned/read.  The barcodes were created such that when scanned, the UPC could be easily pulled up within the inventory or sales system being used.  The UPC is linked to product information in each sales system which is entered into that system separately.  The barcode itself simply stores the UPC by itself. See more information here.

Myth 5 – Barcode systems are too complicated for small businesses

Most users are unfamiliar with the barcode system and, as a result, assume it is a complex system. However, it is not. These assumptions have led several people to believe that it is unsuitable for small businesses and would be difficult for them to manage. On the contrary, barcodes are amongst the simplest tools available to owners of small businesses. Barcodes are simply made of small letters and symbols, which are revealed through letters and symbols shown by vertical white and black lines. The system is quite similar to a binary system utilized by computers for coding, which allows different numbers, mainly series of ones and zeros, to disseminate a specific set of information. 

Therefore when a product’s barcode is scanned, it is shown on the computer screen without any complications. Many products within stores and small businesses already have barcodes. These barcodes are usually from the product manufacturers and can easily be scanned without any problems. Therefore, to use barcode scanning, here are a few steps you can follow:

  • Bring in a new product to the stock
  • Scan the barcode
  • Save the product with certain specifications
  • Scan the product when the sale is made. 

Myth 6 – I’m Selling Online Only so I Don’t Need a Barcode

At almost every major online retailer, UPC barcodes are needed for every product, including on Amazon, Walmart, Overstock, and more.  Nearly every physical store also requires barcodes, and as the physical and online experience becomes more connected, it is imperative that your products have UPCs such that platforms you sell on can have an accurate and reliable barcoding system to use for inventory management and cross platform sales.

Myth 7 – When the scanner beeps, the barcode has been captured

One of the most common myths about barcodes is the assumption that it has been scanned and accurately captured when the scanner beeps. Well, this is another untrue myth. Several aggressive manufacturers’ scanners have fuzzy logic and are concentrated on these beliefs. 

However, just like all inaccurate beliefs, it has a demerit– the demerit of accuracy. Therefore getting the right data from a poorly printed or damaged barcode stretches the tolerance of the barcode. Aggressive scanners will likely interpolate the barcodes and give off inaccurate data to the computer. So, information about the retail inventory system, a supply chain tracking system, and a price look-up system is likely inaccurate. 

Myth 8 – Barcodes with a failing verifier grade will scan properly

Another myth and misconception about barcodes are that barcode with a failing verifier grade will be scanned accurately. The myth originates from the fact that since the verifier must read the barcodes to grade them, it is assumed it will grade properly. This is usually not the case. Verifiers are built to have special decoding abilities, which helps them grade and verify barcodes, even when they are of very poor quality. Therefore, if a barcode has a failing grade, there is a high chance that some scanners will be unable to scan it. 

Myth 9 – The inability of scanners to scan a barcode is not the scanner’s fault

In every situation, it is almost impossible to have polar answers. Therefore it is impossible to say that the problem of scanning a barcode is not from the scanners. As a matter of fact, it is. Therefore, both super aggressive scanners and normal scanners can also fail. How then do you determine if the problem is with the barcode or scanner?

The only way to determine this is through a device adhering to the ISO specifications and standards. The simple reason is that different scanners have different tolerance levels and would react differently to barcodes. 

Myth 10 – A barcode Can Show the Manufacturing Location

The barcode myth started with the emergence of different emails, which revealed that dangerous goods were being imported from China. The email further stated that you could find where a product is from through the first three numbers of the barcode of a product. There are multiple types of barcodes being used throughout the globe. This implies that having a common type of code or a universal code with a uniform three-letter code as a barcode is a myth. For instance, the United States of America uses UPC barcodes and these codes do not begin with the same number, although they are all made in the United States.

Although some barcodes do not show the country of origin, some barcodes such as EAN-13 are used in certain parts of Europe. Regardless of the EAN-13 barcode being made in Europe, not all barcodes are made in Europe using the EAN-13 barcodes. Therefore to check the origin of different products and where they are manufactured, you can simply check for the “Made in” label. In some cases, “made-in” labels can be misleading and confusing.

Myth 11 – Barcodes can expire

This statement is practically untrue. This is because barcodes last forever. However, if you purchase your barcodes from a company that leases them, then you are likely to lose the right to such barcodes, unless you pay an annual renewal fee, which will be recurring, whether you use the barcodes or not. 

Myth 12 – If the original version of my barcode is no longer available, I can repurpose it for our new product

Technically, this fact is true. However, it is not advisable to do so. Most huge outlets also ban this practice for inventory and management purposes. Therefore it is better to purchase a new barcode for new products. 

Looking to purchase UPC barcodes for your products? We’re here to help.  You can purchase UPCs from us in less than 1 minute here!

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