Five steps to get your products ready to be sold online.
- Become a GS1 customer
- Identify your products online
- Understand the GTIN rules
- Complete the order
You need a unique number for each type of product you want to sell. If you only need to identify one product, a single number may be sufficient, but if you want to identify multiple products, you will need a GS1 Company prefix.
This unique number is often referred to as barcode number, but the correct name is Global Trade Item Number and is abbreviated GTIN. Barcodes that you see on products you buy in stores are simply visual representation of a GTIN.
To an online retailer, it may be enough to provide a GTIN, because the number itself is sufficient to identify and track the product.
As a GS1 customer, you get a unique company prefix that is the basis for creating GTIN:s and identifying your products. This example shows a barcode and a GTIN in which the company prefix is marked in red.
How is GS1 Company Prefix used?
The length of your company prefix depends on the size of the number sequence you have ordered. You can use your prefix to create different types of numbers depending on whether you identify products, packaging, pallets, inventory, locations or something else.
When the prefix is enabled, no other organisation can use it to create numbers. It is your prefix that you use to uniquely identify your products so that they are ready to enter the trade.
Order a subscription for a GS1 Company Prefix >
Unique numbers on your products help you and your trading partners identify and track them throughout the supply chain. They also facilitate streamlining processes, for example automated order management and invoicing.
Online retailers and marketplaces require you to assign GTIN:s to enable you to transfer product information for products you want to sell through their platforms. Note! It takes up to 72 hours for a new GTIN to be registered with the online retailer. Before that, you may receive a message that your GTIN is invalid.
You then use the same GTIN to make barcodes if necessary. If you plan to sell a product in physical stores, it must have a barcode.
Products that must have a unique ID
You need a GTIN for each type of product or item that requires unique identification for pricing, order management or billing. For example, GTIN 7312345678916 could be a 330 ml bottle of a soft drink.
Every time you produce a new type or variant of a product, you need to use a new GTIN to identify it and to avoid confusion – and this is especially helpful when retailers order from you. For example, a 330 ml bottle of light-soft drink may have GTIN 7312345679012.
If your product is too small to be marked with the standard 13-digit barcode, you need to use a special 8-digit GTIN that generates a shorter barcode. These numbers are used only in exceptional cases.
You will find more information about the rules for assigning GTIN to products in the next step.
A new product always requires a new GTIN, but often you also need to assign a new GTIN after you have made changes to a product, for example major changes to ingredients or if the size or color has changed.
The GS1 global website contains GTIN rules that describe which changes to a trade item require the item to receive a new GTIN as well as which changes are allowed without changing GTIN.
Does your product need a new GTIN? Use GS1’s online tool to guide you through the GTIN rules.
Once you have registered at an online marketplace or with a retailer, you will hopefully soon receive orders on your product. This means that you need to deliver the product to your new customers.
There are usually two options here: either send the product yourself OR the online marketplace sends the product for you.
If you ship the product yourself, you don’t necessarily have to create a barcode because it won’t pass through a retail outlet or be part of a supply chain.
If the retailer completes the order, you probably need to mark it with a barcode label (also known as EAN-8 or EAN-13 barcode). This allows the marketplace to easily track the product.
How do I create barcode labels?
You can either make barcode originals yourself or hire someone to do it for you, for example a packaging designer, advertising agency or commercial printer.
We have a list of suggestions for barcode suppliers that we know follow our guide for barcode size. You can of course use a printing service or similar, but please refer them to our size guide.
List of barcode suppliers ›
If you want to print barcode labels yourself, you will need an “on demand” printer.
Then it is advisable to contact a vendor who sells label printers and software, to create barcodes.
How do I make sure the barcodes work?
You can get help checking your barcodes with BarcodeCheck. The service checks your barcode’s readability, content and quality. Then you know that the barcode for sure can be scanned with a barcode reader.
If you find out too late that the barcode is not of sufficient quality and difficult to scan, it can lead to high costs in the form of disposal of preprinted material and that automated bearing cannot handle the barcodes and instead needs manual handling.
We understand that it can seem difficult to familiarize yourself with GS1 standards and know what it takes to get your product on to the market.
Our seminars give you the chance to get answers to your questions about barcodes, standards and trade item information.
If you want to focus on only your own business, you can book individual counseling or a tailor-made training.
Visit our seminar page for more information.