Manufacturers that distribute products to retail outlets use the Universal Product Code (UPC) system for product tracking. They need to provide UPC bar codes on product packaging. Retailers then use the bar codes for inventory and sales-tracking purposes. Manufacturers need to purchase a UPC number to use the bar-code system. The cost of registering with the UPC system depends on several factors. Manufacturers need to prepare relevant company data for the application process.
Speak to individual retail outlets about the need for UPC bar codes. Manufacturers who distribute to large retail chains generally need to register with the UPC system. Smaller manufacturers or sellers of certain items might not need this service.
Determine the number of products that need UPC code identification. GS1 is the provider of UPC manufacturer numbers. It provides a UPC company prefix for each manufacturer. The number of company products that will use a UPC bar code partly determines the price of a manufacturer number.
Figure out the gross annual sales of the manufacturer. This is the second factor in determining the price of purchasing a UPC company prefix for new members. Charter members who purchased an EAN.UCC company prefix need to know the number of prefixes they purchased under that old system. GS1 US will calculate the price for charter members based on the number of previous company prefixes purchased and gross annual sales.
Register for the GS1 US Partner Connections program. GS1 US includes the purchase of a UPC company prefix in the cost of the Partner Connections membership fee. Use the application for new members if the manufacturer has never purchased a UPC manufacturer number (see sources). Apply for an additional company prefix if the manufacturer is an existing member who has exhausted the product limit for an existing UPC company prefix (see sources).
Pay the calculated fee to get the company prefix. Follow the instructions provided by GS1 US to use the company prefix in code numbers and buy bar codes for individual products.
Find the GS1 member organization in other countries to purchase a UPC company prefix for use in other countries. Use the GS1 directory of local organizations to find member organizations by country (see sources). Visit the individual sites and follow their instructions to purchase a UPC manufacturer number for that country.
Avoid unnecessary fees if the manufacturer no longer needs bar codes. GS1 charges an annual renewal fee. Cancel the membership to avoid these fees.