UPC Codes: What They Are and How They Work

Should you enter contests and sweepstakes, you may be requested to enter a UPC code of a product to complete your entry. But what are UPCs? Where can you find them? And do you need to buy a product to enter this kind of giveaway? Here’s everything it’s essential to know about UPC barcodes.

What Is the Definition of a UPC Barcode?

UPC means “Universal Product Code.” UPCs are barcode symbols that producers use to determine their products electronically. This lets those products be digitally scanned and tracked.

Each UPC consists of a series of digitally-readable bars plus numbers that people can verify.

UPC codes make it easy to ring up products at a grocery store, track stock, reorder stock, print detailed receipts, make coupons scannable by computers, and so on.

Though there are other barcode systems, UPCs are essentially the most commonly-used tracking system in the United States, Canada, and many different countries.

Technically, the time period “UPC code” is inaccurate, since you might be saying “common product code code,” however many people use it anyway. If you want to be proper, you may merely call it a UPC.

A UPC code is a 12 digit code that’s unique to a selected product. It is displayed in different ways: a barcode and printed numbers.

The barcode is designed for computer scanners to simply read. It consists of alternating white and black bars of assorted widths. Every numeral from zero to 9 corresponds to a selected pattern of bars.

For example, a one could be written as three bars, every lengths wide, followed by a bar one size wide. Remember that you want to consider both the white and black bars when deciphering the code.

The barcode starts and ends with a black bar, a white bar, and a black bar, each one unit in width.

These are called the start code and the top code. Between the start and finish codes, you’ll find the bars indicating the numbers in the code.

The second a part of a UPC code is a plain-textual content version of the number, which is printed near the barcode in order that people can read it easily. This is helpful, for instance, when a scanner is not working properly and a cashier needs to enter the code by hand. The plain-textual content number is way sooner for the cashier to type than making an attempt to decipher the code could be, and having it there reduces the possibility of creating a mistake when keying within the product data by hand.

Why Do UPC Codes Have 12 Numbers?

The 12-digit UPC code is made up of three groups of numbers with different purposes. In a product UPC, the first six numbers point out the producer, the following five digits are an item number, and the final number is the check digit.

The manufacturer’s section of the UPC is technically called the UPC Company Prefix. It is assigned to the producer after they apply for a UPC barcode. Each merchandise that the manufacturer sells will begin with this number.

The second group of numbers, the item number, is assigned to every particular person product by the manufacturer. For example, the item numbers for a six-pack of strawberry yogurt, a single container of strawberry yogurt, and a single blueberry yogurt from the identical manufacturer would all be different from one another.

The check digit is there to help ensure that the right number has been scanned or hand-entered. To check whether the proper numbers are in the code, add up all of the odd digits within the code and multiply the outcome by three. Then add up all the even digits and add them to the result. The quantity you’d must add to that amount to reach a a number of of ten ought to match the check digit. If not, something has gone wrong.

If that appears difficult, you may also use a checksum calculator to verify your UPC without having to do plenty of math.

Coupons also have UPC codes that can be scanned to check whether or not the coupon is being used with the fitting product, to track when and the place coupons are getting used, and to verify whether the coupon is still valid. Coupon UPCs typically start with the digit 5.

Read more from TheBalance’s Couponing Expert: How to Read Coupon UPCs.

Why Are UPCs Sometimes Shorter Than 12 Digits?

It can be troublesome to fit a 12-digit UPC on a small package. To solve this problem, you’ll be able to compress the zeros in a UPC to save lots of space, which ends in barcodes with less than 12 digits. You possibly can read more about zero-compressed numbers from How Things Work.

What Is not Included in UPC Codes

A UPC Code does not carry any price information. When the code is scanned, a store’s laptop will check that product towards the present worth stored in its database to find out the cost of the product. In any other case, a new UPC code must be printed every time a price was modified and the producer would also need to know the value the stores wanted to set. That might be a nightmare to track!

UPC codes additionally don’t carry details about where a product was manufactured, despite various viral emails and social media posts claiming otherwise. You possibly can’t take a look at sure numbers of a UPC code and determine that the product was made in China or different countries. EIN numbers, which are commonly used in Europe, may include this information.

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