EANs, Barcodes and Where To Get Them

Sample BarcodeIt seems one of the best places in the world to purchase EAN barcodes is right here in New Zealand; Barcodes Limited. Christina Piet of Mumi&Bubi told me about this firm recently. She recommended the service, and although I haven’t yet used it myself, I think it’s worth mentioning. It’s surely amongst the cheapest sources of barcodes, offering single EANs at NZ$49 each, quantities of 10 or more EANs at $39 each, no joining fee and no and need to purchase big blocks of numbers.

What’s the difference between an EAN and a barcode? An EAN is a unique number that identifies your product internationally. A barcode is a way of representing any number using lines of different spacing and thickness designed to be easily scannable by a barcode reader. Put these together, and an ‘EAN barcode’ is a scannable barcode representation of your product’s EAN. In other words, having an EAN barcode on your product means the product can be scanned and identified, anywhere in the world.

For a small additional fee, Barcodes Limited generate will the barcode images for the EANs you purchase. Alternatively you can have your packaging designer or manufacturer generate and print the barcodes for you. A third option is to use an on-line barcode image service. One I’ve used in the past is a barcode image generator at barcoding.com. It’s free, you type in your EAN and it gives you back a barcode image, but it does require some knowledge of the different barcode formats.

All products being exported with ExportX must have international EAN barcodes. When preparing to send a new product overseas, one of the first things the ExportX team will ask for is the product EAN (along with its SKU and package dimensions). This is in order to pre-register your product with the automated warehouse receiving, warehousing and order fulfilment systems that track your products each step of the way from arrival to customer-dispatch.

The barcodes must be unique to each different product. That means each style, colour and size must have a different EAN, and the barcode labels must be clearly printed for easy scanning and must show the correct EAN.

Anecdotally, it seems a lot of firms in New Zealand don’t use barcodes for much more than price lookups, but in the big wide world barcodes are essential and must be absolutely correct. There’s no room for mis-labelling, or customers ordering your best-selling ‘Men’s Size 7 Jandal’ might receive bright pink gardening gloves instead!

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