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How to choose GTIN/EAN/UPC barcodes for products?


If you want to list your products in major physical outlets, you need to get a GS1 barcode for your products. When you search for the keyword “barcode”, you will find results for different types of barcodes such as EAN and UPC. What are their differences? What is the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)? Which industries need GS1 barcodes? Read on to know how to get GS1 barcodes and the 6 benefits of using GS1 barcodes!


What is a GS1 Barcode?

GS1 barcode is composed of vertical dark lines (commonly black), light spaces (commonly white) of varying widths that represent digits, and a unique GS1 identification number. By scanning the GS1 barcode, the system could capture and read the data encoded on the barcode, such as product names and serial numbers.

GS1 barcodes establish a unified standard for industries worldwide. Businesses from various sectors can get GS1 barcodes to identify their products. Scanning GS1 barcodes helps units in the supply chain accurately obtain product information, reduce manual errors, and improve efficiency. For example, the retail industry utilizes GS1 barcodes to accelerate the checkout process, ensure accurate pricing, and effectively manage inventory and sales data. GS1 barcodes are also widely used in the logistics and transportation industries to track the movement of goods, and enhancing logistical efficiency.

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How to choose the suitable GS1 barcode for product listing? EAN or UPC? 

Products or services that can be priced, ordered, or sold in the supply chain can use either EAN (European Article Number) or UPC (Universal Product Code). Both are types of the GS1 barcodes that can be used in physical outlets and e-commerce platforms worldwide. Whether you choose an EAN or a UPC, they are both Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs). 

How to choose GTIN/EAN/UPC barcodes for products?

The EAN category includes EAN-13, which has 13 digits and requires a larger printing area, and EAN-8, which has 8 digits and occupies a smaller printing area, making it suitable for smaller retail items like cosmetics. They are widely adopted by retail outlets and e-commerce platforms worldwide now.

The UPC is primarily used in the United States and Canada markets. UPC-A consists of 12 digits. The UPC-E allows the use of UPC barcodes on smaller packages where the UPC-A may not fit. It utilises a zero-suppression method to compress the GTIN-12 into an 8-digit format. Although EANs are applicable in most global retail outlets, there are still a few North American companies that are updating their systems and can currently only scan UPCs. GS1 HK also provides UPC for application.


Can I generate GS1 barcodes on my own? How to get GS1 barcodes in Hong Kong?

GS1 barcodes worldwide comply with GS1 standards. GS1 is an organisation responsible for the development and maintenance of global standards, including the application of GS1 barcodes. GS1 currently has 110 member organisations in 150 countries. GS1 barcodes cannot be generated in an unofficial way, and using unauthorized GS1 barcodes can lead to losses and other risks. If you need to get GS1 barcodes, you can submit an application to the local GS1 member organisation as long as your products are registered under a company in the region.

GS1 HK, the Hong Kong chapter of GS1, is the only officially licensed organisation with the authority to issue GS1 barcodes. GS1 HK currently has about 8,000 corporate members. Become a GS1 HK member, and you can enjoy services such as participation in barcode workshops, access to the latest market information, and opportunities for networking and business matching. GS1 HK also provides members with access to the BarcodePlus platform where members can register product and location information, generate GS1 barcodes, and download barcode image files, and many more of GS1 HK related services.

Benefits of Getting GS1 Barcodes

As the global language of business, GS1 barcodes can be used both online and offline, connecting across sales channels.

You can get GS1 barcode with 489 prefix from us. We also provide various solutions and services, including patented anti-counterfeiting technology and traceability technology. These solutions allow consumers to authenticate products instantly by scanning the GS1 barcode with a mobile phone, combating counterfeit products and protecting brands.

The GS1 barcodes which are issued by GS1 Hong Kong can be used for product listing in both local and global physical outlets and ecommerce platforms. For example, major global ecommerce platforms such as Amazon and Tmall require the input of GTIN for product identification when listing products. Google also recommends using GTIN issued by GS1 when selling products on the Google Shopping platform. GTIN helps Google identify products more accurately and provide more precise content to consumers. Furthermore, it can enhance product exposure and conversion rates on Google. For more information, you could refer to the benefits of GS1 barcodes.

Three steps to get GS1 barcodes and easily add GS1 barcodes to your products

Step 1: Become a GS1 HK Member 

Submit your GS1 barcode application to us, enjoy exclusive entitlements as a GS1 HK member, including business networking opportunities.

    Sign Up    

Step 2: Create Barcodes on BarcodePlus

Create unique GS1 barcodes for your products, use the barcode generator to download GS1 barcode image files, and manage product information through the platform.

Step 3: Add GS1 Barcodes (GTIN) to Your Products

Add product barcodes on the products and start selling them instantly in physical outlets and e-commerce platforms. We also provide barcode testing services.



GS1 Barcode Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary for products to be manufactured in Hong Kong to get a barcode with the “489” prefix number?

No. Regardless of whether the product is manufactured in Hong Kong, companies registered in Hong Kong can get GS1 barcodes starting with "489" for their products.

When should I get a barcode for a product?

Each product has a unique GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) for identification. Therefore, when a new product is launched or when significant changes happen, such as changes in product volume, ingredients, packaging from bottles to boxes, or including additional free items for limited-time promotions, a new GS1 barcode is needed. Contact us for details about the GS1 barcode application.

Besides creating barcodes, what other services does BarcodePlus provide?

BarcodePlus is a reliable product and location information portal. GS1 HK members can generate product barcodes (GTIN) and Global Location Number (GLN), input product details, product images, prices, and other information on the portal. GS1 HK members can utilize the platform’s database function to share product information with business partners easily. GS1 HK members can utilise BarcodePlus and the GS1 HK “1QR” function to showcase product information and related certifications, enhancing brand awareness and consumer confidence.

How do I choose a GS1 barcode generator?

GS1 HK members can use the BarcodePlus platforms as a barcode generator to download GS1 barcodes for their products. These barcode image files can be combined with packaging designs or affixed to the label on the packaging. Currently, there are many companies in Hong Kong that provide barcode printing and production services. Some companies also purchase software or hardware for in-house barcode printing to meet their specific needs.



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