Retail products use EAN-13 or UPC codes – these get scanned at check out when an item is purchased.
There are many other types of barcodes too – please see below for more information.
Also Known As: TUN, Carton Code, GTIN-14
Encodable Digits: 0-9
Length: 14 digits
Purpose: This is a carton code, it is used by retailers to streamline their inwards goods
ITF-14 Carton Codes are created from EAN-13 and UPC-A barcodes. They are only used in warehouses on cartons containing a specific quantity of the item that the product barcode represents. These codes are not for products that are sold individually at a retail level. For example, a case of wine that is sold as a single unit would need a retail barcode. You may need an ITF-14 code if you have a shipping carton full of wine bottles which will be taken out and sold individually after they arrive at the shop.
Also Known As: Book Barcode, International Standard Book Number, ISBN Barcode
Encodable Digits: 0-9
Length: 13 digits
Purpose: For selling books at the retail level
International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) are unique numbers assigned to a book. ISBNs start with 978 and are distributed by ISBN agencies in each country (see isbn-international.org/agency). They can also be obtained through independent publishing agencies such as bookisbn.org.uk, used for self-publishing authors.
ISBN Barcodes are barcodes generated based off of an ISBN. Each book has a unique ISBN, so this ensures no two ISBN barcodes will be the same, allowing retailers to easily keep track of each book when stocking and selling it.
Also Known As: International Standard Serial Number, Magazine Barcode, ISSN Barcode
Encodable Digits: 0-9
Length: 13 digits plus 2 or 5 digit supplement
Purpose: ISSN barcodes are for magazines being sold over the checkout
Magazine barcodes are called ISSN barcodes, and they are based on a unique ISSN that each magazine is assigned. If you intend on publishing and selling a magazine, you will need an ISSN which can be obtained from the ISSN International Center. Once you have your number, it can be converted by a barcode company such as ourselves into a 13-digit unique retail barcode.
Name: Code 39
Also Known As: Alpha 39, USD-3, Type-39, Code 3-9
Encodable Digits: Alphanumeric characters plus some special symbols
Purpose: Asset labels, name badges, membership cards, etc. Any closed system that needs unique identifiers
Code 39 barcodes are used for internal unique numbering. This makes them appropriate for asset labelling, membership cards, library books or any other internal item that needs to be tracked or managed. There is no body regulating the uniqueness of these barcodes (unlike retail barcodes), so they cannot be used outside of a closed system. Code 39 barcodes have a low data density, which means each character they contain takes a lot of bars and therefore space. Due to this, these codes are not suited to very long strings of characters.
Name: Code 128
Also Known As: No alternative names
Encodable Digits: All ASCII characters (128 characters)
Purpose: Like Code 39 barcodes, these codes can be used for asset labels, name badges, membership cards, etc. Any closed system that needs unique identifiers
Code 128 barcodes are very similar to Code 39, in that they are unregulated codes suited for internal use. The main difference between the two is that Code 128s have a higher data density (more characters can be encoded in a smaller space) and can contain any ASCII character instead of just alphanumeric and some symbols.
Name: Code 11
Also Known As: USD-8
Encodable Digits: 0-9 and – (dash)
Purpose: Primarily used in telecommunications
Code 11 barcodes are relatively simple, with a limited range of encodable digits. They are high density, which means each character doesn’t take up much space. Code 11 barcodes are most often used by telecom companies to identify equipment and other important business assets.
Name: Code 93
Also Known As: USS Code 93, USS 93, Code 9/3
Encodable Digits: The same as code 39, so alphanumeric characters plus some special symbols
Purpose: Internal use (like Code 39 and 128
The Code 93 barcode is an updated version of the Code 39, with more efficient encoding, more reliable scanning and a greater variety of characters. The uses are the same as for Code 39, and Canada Post uses Code 93s for their internal use.
Also Known As: UCC-128, EAN-128
Encodable Digits: Numeric characters
Length: Variable, even number of characters preferred
Purpose: Can encode an enormous variety of details about a product shipment
The GS1-128 is a subset of the Code-128 barcodes mentioned above. However these GS1 barcodes include only numbers, unlike the regular 128 codes. They can encode a vast variety of different product details, such as expiry date, packaging date, batch number, net weight and more. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GS1-128 for details.
Also Known As: Serial Shipping Container Code
Encodable Digits: Numeric
Length: 18 digits
Purpose: Used on tertiary level of shipping (pallets etc), these codes communicate the company and shipment number
Serial Shipping Container Codes are a shipping code that communicates which company a container, pallet or outer carton has come from. These are different from ITF-14 container codes because they cover a shipment with several different products (and therefore EAN-13 codes), unlike ITF-14 codes which are matched 1:1 with EAN codes. These SSCC codes are iterated by one for each order, so a retailer’s inwards good will know they are receiving for the 20th shipment from Generic Company (for example).
Also Known As: Codeabar, Ames Code, , Code 2 of 7, Monarch, USD-4
Encodable Digits: Numeric digits and some special symbols
Purpose: Used for asset tracking eg library books, the Codbar can function even on suboptimal printing material
The Codabar is a somewhat outdated barcode found in some dated internal inventory systems such as libraries. These codes are designed to function even when printed on low-quality paper or created with a mechanical printer (typewriter). It is similar to the Code 39 but less versatile in what it can contain.
Name: QR Code
Also Known As: Quick Response Code, Matrix Barcode
Encodable Digits: Alphanumeric and symbols
Length: Variable, more characters = more complex code
Purpose: Commonly used to encode a website URL, QR codes are extremely versatile and can contain almost anything
QR Codes have become a very common feature of marketing, advertising and communicating digitally stored information through a physical object (the code). These barcodes can store more data than traditional 2D codes, and are easy to scan with a smartphone.