Every single item you purchase has a special code attached to it called a UPC code.
What is UPC and why is it so important in the world of retail?
Read on to learn more about these essential codes, what they are, and why they’re so crucial to commerce and industry.
The Basics: What is UPC?
The letters UPC stand for Universal Product Code, which was first created to help small grocery stores speed up their checkout process for customers. These codes also made it easier for stores to track their inventory and thanks to its success, UPC codes quickly spread to other items besides food.
The Uniform Code Council started integrating UPC codes and allowed manufacturers to apply in order to have their codes entered into the UPC system. Each manufacturer would pay an annual fee and the Uniform Code Council would issue a six-digit manufacturer identification number. Today, the UPC code is 12-digits long and has two main parts.
The first part of the code is the machine-readable bar code. The second part is the human-readable 12-digit UPC number. These barcodes are graded on an A-F scale.
Breaking Down UPC Codes
So, what is UPC and how does it apply to today’s goods and products? The first six digits of a UPC number is the manufacturer identification number, and the next five digits are the item number. These numbers are assigned to products by a coordinator to ensure that no two numbers are the same.
Every single item a manufacturer sells as well as every size of that item must have a different, unique UPC code assigned to it. For example, a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi will have a different code than a 12-ounce bottle of the same name brand.
Finally, the last digit in a UPC code is called a check digit, and this is how a scanner knows if the item is read correctly. Even though items can be scanned with a bar code, the code is what determines the price and product. Some barcodes may be affixed to products with decals and labels, while others are printed directly onto the packaging itself.
While the concept of the Universal Product Code isn’t new, it’s still a standard part of manufacturing and consumerism. These codes allow companies to track their products from the assembly line to the delivery truck, into the stores, and onto your shelves. In addition, utilizing this AIDC technology allows for less human error.
Cracking the (UPC) Code
Barcodes play a large role in everything we buy. It’s easy to see why these unique numeric codes are so important. With a UPC code, all products can be properly tracked and priced accordingly.
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