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What exactly is a UPC Code?

A UPC (Universal Product Code) is a unique code affixed to a product’s packaging, aiding in its identification. It consists of a black barcode that can be scanned and a 12-digit number displayed beneath it. The primary purpose of UPCs is to simplify the process of identifying product features, such as the brand name, item, size, and color, when an item is scanned at the checkout counter. In fact, their initial creation stemmed from the need to expedite the checkout process at grocery stores. Furthermore, UPCs prove invaluable in inventory tracking within retail establishments and warehouses. Start your online selling journey with Shopify by clicking here.

Gaining Access to a UPC To acquire a UPC for your product, a company must first apply to become a part of the system. In the United States, GS1 US (formerly known as the Uniform Code Council – UCC) oversees the allocation of UPCs.

Upon payment of the requisite fee, GS1 assigns a 6-digit manufacturer identification number. This number serves as the initial six digits of the UPC for all products associated with that particular manufacturer. It effectively distinguishes the manufacturer of the item in question.

The subsequent five digits of the UPC comprise the item number, which refers to the specific product itself.

Within each company, an individual is responsible for assigning item numbers, ensuring that each number remains unique and that outdated numbers corresponding to discontinued products are phased out.

Consumer products often come in different variations, such as sizes, flavors, or colors. Each distinct variation necessitates its own unique item number. For instance, a box of 24 one-inch nails possesses a different item number than a box of 24 two-inch nails or a box of 50 one-inch nails.

The last digit in the 12-digit UPC is known as the check digit. This digit is calculated through a series of mathematical operations, involving addition and multiplication of certain digits within the code.

The purpose of the check digit is to validate the UPC’s accuracy when scanned at the checkout. If the check digit code is incorrect, the UPC will not scan properly.

Advantages Offered by UPC

UPCs offer a multitude of benefits to businesses and consumers alike. By enabling barcode scanners to instantaneously identify a product and its associated price, UPCs enhance speed, efficiency, and productivity by eliminating the need for manual entry of product information.

Moreover, UPCs facilitate significantly more accurate inventory tracking compared to manual counting, allowing retailers and warehouses to determine precisely when additional products are required to replenish store shelves or warehouse stock. In cases where a specific product exhibits issues requiring consumer awareness or necessitating a recall, UPCs enable effective tracking of products throughout the production process, distribution channels, retail outlets, and even into consumers’ homes.

Universal Product Code FAQ

What does the term “universal product code” signify? The Universal Product Code (UPC) is a distinctive 12-digit number assigned to each individual product available for sale in both physical stores and online. Its purpose is to uniquely identify and track products throughout the stages of sale, shipment, and receipt. Additionally, UPCs serve inventory control purposes and facilitate price comparisons.

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What is an Amazon universal product code?

An Amazon Universal Product Code (UPC) is a 12-digit number that serves as a unique identifier for a product within a retail setting. Amazon, along with other retailers, utilizes UPCs to identify and track products for sale. These UPCs are prominently displayed on product packaging and labels, allowing customers to scan them at the checkout for swift and accurate product information recording.

How do I utilize a universal product code?

  • Locate the barcode on the product you wish to purchase, typically positioned beneath a series of numbers and bars.
  • At the checkout, scan the barcode using the store’s designated scanner, which reads the UPC code.
  • Once scanned, the item’s price is calculated and added to your overall total.
  • Complete the payment for your items and proceed with your purchase.

For those interested in generating their own barcodes, you can explore Shopify’s free barcode generator.

Where can I find a universal product code?

Universal Product Codes (UPCs) are commonly found on product labels and packaging, aiding in the identification and tracking of products available for sale in retail stores.

You can buy UPC/EAN codes for a bulk price here: https://mirosel.com/shop/


  • “What is a UPC code?” by Rob Snell, Practical Ecommerce, February 2011.
  • “How UPC Bar Codes Work” by Kevin Bonsor, HowStuffWorks.
  • “Understanding UPC Barcodes” by Bridget McCrea, Inc.com, February 2007.
  • “What is a Universal Product Code (UPC)?” by Janet Attard, The Balance Small Business, April 2020.
  • “UPC Codes Explained: What They Are and How They Work” by Charlene Boutin, Shopify Blog, July 2020.

Please note that while efforts have been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information, the availability and accuracy of sources may vary over time.

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