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Smart WarehousingJan 23, 2024 9:49:37 AM4 min read

Efficient Supply Chain Management: Leveraging UPC Codes with Logistics Partners


In today’s competitive e-commerce landscape, staying organized is non-negotiable. A well-organized system for tracking and identifying your products drives operational efficiency and strengthens the customer experience. Many businesses utilize SKUs (stock keeping units) internally to categorize their products and aid in stock management. But what happens if your business begins selling merchandise across multiple channels or marketplaces? Once outside your purview, an internal labeling system simply wouldn’t function. 


The solution? To get UPCs—a.k.a. universal product codes. In this article, we’ll explore all things UPC codes as well as how you can get UPCs via your third-party logistics partner to optimize supply chain management. 

Decoding UPCs: Understanding Universal Product Codes

UPCs are machine-readable, numerical barcodes used globally to label, identify, and distinguish products. Upon scanning, the barcode unveils key details about a product, like the brand name, price, size, and more. The UPC system offers an effective way to accurately track and manage inventory, lending to a smooth collaborative selling process. 


Serving as a linchpin for both warehouses and point-of-sale systems, this code plays a pivotal role in managing inventory and tracking sales. Importantly, UPCs maintain consistency across various sellers, locations, and sales channels, providing a standardized means of product identification. When you get UPCs, you can significantly bolster profitability and supply chain efficiency. Why? Because these codes offer a valuable way to trace goods, improve inventory management, decrease checkout times, and gather vital sales data. 


What’s Included When You Get a UPC Code?

A UPC can be up to 12 digits, and usually comprises three key components:

  • Manufacturer Identification Number: 

The initial six to nine digits of the UPC represent the manufacturer's ID. GS1, a nonprofit, hands out a distinctive six-digit prefix to each business, which provides a way to identify the intellectual property rights owner of the product. If a business sells two unique products, for example, their UPCs will share the same initial 6 digits.

  • Item Number: 

The following five digits form the product's distinct item number. This identifier is exclusive to each product and its variations, ensuring, for instance, that a green blanket bears a different item number from its purple counterpart of the same design.

  • Check Digit: 

The final digit, known as the check digit, serves as a way to validate the UPC code in your inventory management or POS system. This digit represents the sum of the preceding digits, ensuring the uniqueness of each UPC.

Unlocking Success: Why Get UPC Codes for Your Products?

UPCs have revolutionized the way brands do business. Here’s a look at the benefits you’ll reap when you get UPCs for your products. 


Accelerated Order Fulfillment

You’ll enjoy a quicker, easier, and more streamlined order fulfillment process when you get UPC barcodes. Just imagine: if each item is affixed with a UPC label, the picker can access the product’s details with a simple scan rather than manually inputting information. This not only reduces error, but can considerably decrease time spent identifying and picking products. 


Improved Inventory Tracking & Management 

Your logistics partner can provide flexible integration solutions with your tech stack to provide real-time inventory visibility and insights. With your systems synched, each time you get UPC codes scanned, an automatic record of the transaction is captured and you’ll be able to see if an item has been stored, picked, shipped, or returned. Real-time data surrounding inventory levels can eliminate costly errors like stockouts while allowing you to track product movement from order placement through its arrival on a customer’s doorstep. 


Increased Picking and Packing Accuracy

You can also get UPC codes to drive accuracy and efficiency in your fulfillment process. Because product information is easily accessible with a quick scan, warehouse staff can ensure they’re picking and packing the correct products. This minimizes unwanted errors and improves order accuracy, contributing to a positive customer experience.


How To Get a UPC


1. Determine the quantity you need

Each product type and variation will require a UPC code. For instance, if a box of chocolates is available in 3 sizes (5-count, 15-count, 25-count) and 3 flavors (sea salt, caramel, mint), it’ll require nine barcodes. 


2. Decide where you’ll get UPCs

Your business can purchase UPCs from GS1 or other barcode sellers. Keep in mind, if your products are sold through or to other retailers, they must accept UPC barcodes on their sales platforms.


3. Pay applicable fees


Costs will be contingent upon the number of barcodes needed and the provider supplying them. Some providers, for example, charge an upfront fee and an annual fee thereafter. 

4. Get your UPC codes

Often, barcodes are available to view and download via the provider’s website, providing you with the flexibility to print them on any packaging or materials required moving forward. 


Improved Logistics for Your Business

Utilizing UPCs can transform your inventory management strategy and play an important role in meeting consumer demand. At Smart Warehousing, we can help you take your success further. From order fulfillment and product packaging to logistics and stock replenishment, we create custom solutions to optimize your supply chain and strengthen the customer experience. Contact us today to discover how we can help your business reach new heights.