What Are Barcode Labels?

Barcodes appear on many products and items purchased in shops, however, what are they? Barcodes are categorised into one dimensional, two dimensional and universal product codes. 

What Are They

Barcode labels are generally found on the side, back or bottom of products sold at retailers. These items include but are not limited to food, clothing, tools, containers, stationery, books, and posters. Barcodes can be identified by their telltale black and white lines, which are called elements, some having numbers below them. 

How They Work

When tracking an asset, barcode labels are scanned by a scanner that generally has a red or green laser behind glass or plastic, and can be contained within a register or a handheld scanner. This then transmits information about the product to the computer. This information is generally a name and price. These are called 1D, or one-dimensional barcodes. 

Tracking System

The computer system of the register will collate the information to provide a price for the customer, however, the company’s data will automatically be updated. This information update occurs in the inventory system for the store as well as for consumer spending habits. This can then be used for stock reordering as well as forecasting and trend analysis. Additionally, this can help when it comes to accounting and finance management. These are 2D or two-dimensional barcodes. 

Universal Code

Barcodes also link into product information that is not specific to a retailer. This is called a universal product code. This code consists of a manufacturer’s identification number (the first 6 numbers) and then product identification numbers (the remaining digits). 

image of barcode labels

image by ladyada

Barcode label categories are determined based on the information they provide when scanned. These include 1D, 2D and universal product codes.