PLEASE NOTE: Due to a problem with the software not operating correctly with recent versions of Windows patches, we have suspended sales of the 'AVS Barcode Source' software until we have fixed the problem.
If you are selling your product through mainstream retail channels (i.e. shops, whether in the high street or online), you're almost certainly going to need a barcode for your product. This might seem daunting, but can be quite straightforward. This article tells you how to get a barcode for your product.
There are four main steps involved in getting a barcode for your own product. First, you need to get a unique number allocated for your product. Next, you convert that number into a barcode image suitable for use on your product. Then, you need to arrange to print that barcode, or incorporate it into your existing label or packaging. Finally, it needs to be tested to make sure it all works with no surprises. Let's go through those steps one at a time.
1. Get a barcode number allocated to your product. Of course, no two products worldwide must have the same barcode number. So, there is a worldwide organisation (GS1) who issue unique numbers to all products. You need to apply to GS1 for a barcode number for your product. There is a small cost associated with this, but if you're serious about selling your product, this will be well worth it. Usually, you will receive more than one barcode number (for instance, in the UK, the minimum you can buy from GS1UK is 1000 at a time - although, that's not as many as it sounds!). Those numbers are allocated forever to you - you can choose which of your products to allocate to which number.
2. Create the barcode image. Having received your unique barcode number(s), the next step is to convert them into an actual barcode image - the series of black and white bars. In some cases (such as with GS1 in the United States), you may be provided with an image included with your barcode number. In other cases, you have to create it yourself, and even if you do receive the image from GS1, you may want to create your own anyway for full control.
To convert your barcode number into an image ready for use, you can either use barcode 'fonts', or use software specially designed for the job. The software solution will almost always create higher-quality results than barcode fonts. Choose software that can output the graphics in a variety of graphics formats, preferably including EPS (vector) and TIFF, which your desktop publishing software will be able to use. Barcode software varies in features and price, but good software is available for well under $100.
Our barcode software "AVS Barcode Source" is full of professional-level features, is easy to install and use, and has a demonstration version you can try straight away. Click here to read more about our barcode software.
3. Print the barcode. When you have the barcode image ready, the next step is to incorporate it into your existing label design and/or packaging. It may be that you (or your printing company) use desktop publishing software to create your product's label - in which case, you'll want to incorporate the image into the label using your DTP software. An important point at this stage is not to let the barcode image change in any way. In particular, do not resize it, or change the DPI (Dots Per Inch) setting. Your barcode software will have created the image based on the settings you specified - if you need to make any changes to the barcode image, do it in the barcode software and re-import. Never resize a barcode image after creation.
4. Testing, testing, testing. We've all been at a checkout with a product with a barcode that won't scan. Annoying, yes? Don't let that be your product. You need to test your barcode, to check that it scans properly using a variety of barcode scanners. At the very least, test it using a number of different scanners - better yet, buy (or hire) a dedicated barcode image verifier, to make sure your barcode image is really top-notch.
Your product now has its own barcode number, and a high-quality, tested barcode image. You've made it possible for all retailers to sell your product easily, so get it out there and sell!
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