Barcode and Product Fulfillment

Barcode and Product Fulfillment2019-07-09T14:46:19+00:00

What’s The Difference Between A Barcode On The Product Versus The Barcode On the Master Case Or Pallet?

When it comes to product fulfillment, barcodes play a major role in helping things run more efficiently. The importance of barcodes lies in how they keep businesses and fulfillment service companies organized – without a good barcode, products can’t be fulfilled.

A barcode is simply a machine-readable symbol that stores identifying data about the package or product with which they are associated. When read by a barcode scanner or computer, the symbol is decoded, recorded, and processed to extract the data for a variety of uses (some examples include pricing, order fulfillment, traceability through production, sortation, shipping, and more).

There are several different types of barcodes used in product fulfillment. Many businesses choose to partner with a 3PL services company, which allows them to sit back and rest assured knowing that they are saving money while their fulfillment and reverse logistics needs are under control. However, it is still helpful for business owners to be able to recognize and understand the various types of barcodes found on products, master cases and pallets. Here, we explain some of the different types of barcodes, and how they work.

Barcode and Product Fulfillment
Barcode and Product Fulfillment

Barcodes found on products

Every time you work with physical products— whether you are receiving, selling, returning, shipping, or counting them—you need to tell your software system which item you’re handling. In all these cases, barcodes come in handy.

Barcodes are used to identify and track inventory throughout the fulfillment services process. Simply put, the purpose of a barcode is to tell you what that product is.

1D (linear) barcodes are the most common type of bar code for products in the retail and wholesale world. They are used to represent product codes such as European article numbers (EANs), unique product codes (UPCs), and international standard book numbers (ISBNs).

When a one-dimensional barcode is scanned, the encoded data is decrypted, revealing the information about the product. The more data that needs to be stored within it, the longer the barcode must be.

Another type of barcode found on products is two-dimensional, (or 2D) barcodes, which are similar to a linear 1D barcode, but can represent more data per unit area.

Barcodes found on master cases and pallets

Similar to the way barcodes come in handy when working with physical products, they are also helpful in telling what cartons, cases, and pallets contain. The barcode found on a master case or pallet is a summary of what is in the box or pallet that is being received.

The UPC Shipping Container Symbol is used to mark cartons, cases, or pallets that contain products which have a UPC or EAN product identification number. It is very similar to the Universal Product Code. The container symbols provide manufacturers and distributors with the ability to take inventory or tally shipments quickly and accurately.

The shorthand name for the UPC Shipping Container Symbol is “ITF-14,” which is an acronym for “Interleaved 2 of 5” (the type of barcode used) and 14 digits (the length of the container symbol). The ITF-14 symbol contains the following information:

  • Digit 1: Packaging indicator
  • Digits 2-3: UPC numbering system or EAN prefix
  • Digits 4-8: Manufacturer identification number
  • Digits 9-13: Item identification number
  • Digit 14: Check digit
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