UPC - Universal Product Code

UPC (abbreviated from Universal Product Code) is a barcode symbology that is widely used in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other countries for the purpose of tracking trade items in retail settings. This code makes it easy to ring up retail products, track inventory, reorder stock that is running low, print receipts that verify items you bought and to make coupons scannable. UPC's are the most commonly-used tracking system for barcode technology.


A UPC barcode consists of a scannable strip of black bars and white spaces above a sequence of 12 numeric digits that are uniquely assigned to every retail item. No letters, characters, or other content of any kind may appear on a UPC barcode. There is a one-to-one correspondence between the 12 digit numbers and strips of black bars and white spaces.


The make-up of a UPC code (see diagram below), starts with the first six numbers identifying the manufacturer.  The next five digits are the item number, and the final number is the check digit.  The check digit is added to help ensure that the right number has been scanned or hand-entered.

UPC codes do not carry pricing information since this would require that these codes continually be created when prices changed. Instead, when the code is scanned, a store's computer system will check that product against the current pricing for that item in the database, to determine the price charged at the point of sale.  It is an integrated system, that continues to make UPC's the favorite barcode of choice for the retail world.


All UPC numbers are assigned by GS1-the Global Standards Organization. Their website provides complete information to apply and assign UPC codes for your specific products.



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