UPC is another hot topic most entrepreneurs ask me about, especially as they begin to scale and move from selling just to friends and family and at local shows, to scaling into wholesale and Amazon.

I’ll get messages and emails asking….

  • Do I really need a UPC?
  • Do I need it for all my products?
  • Where on earth do I even get one?
  • Goodness how much does it cost me?

Can you relate?

Many business owners know they’ll eventually need UPCs for their products because stores require them in order to properly track products, and so much more. As reference, UPC stands for Universal Product Code, and every product should have one.

Depending on your product category, you may or may not be UPC heavy. Where I see a lot of UPC are in cosmetics/skincare and clothing category. Let’s take lipsticks as an example. For every type of lipsticks (gloss, matte, long lasting etc.), each type will require a UPC for every lipstick colour. So using my example, if you have 3 types of lipsticks (gloss, matte, long lasting), and you have 10 different colours for each, then you’ll need 30 different UPCs (3 types X 10 colours). You can track how well each type of lipstick sells, in addition to the colours etc.

If you’re just starting out in your business and are still in the substantiating phase and selling just locally at shows and events then you can wait. However, if wholesale is your aim, then you’ll need to get a UPC. The main source to get UPC is through GS1. They are the main organization that issues and maintains UPCs for various businesses. They’re an international company, so there’s GS1 Canada, GS1 US, GS1 Europe etc.

The cost of UPC is based on the number you need, and the size of your business (sales) and cost vary between countries. Now, because of cost some businesses are turning to UPC wholesale companies (resellers) to get their UPC. This is because the cost is much less than obtaining a UPC directly from GS1, and technically the UPC from some of these companies are from GS1. These companies buy UPCs in bulk from GS1, and then resell those UPCs to smaller businesses like you.

The challenge with buying UPCs from a reseller is that you’re not the UPC owner according to GS1 records. When you get to bigger wholesale accounts, it’s important that the UPCs are assigned to your company. The problem with buying UPCs from resellers is that if the UPCs were to be traced, it would be the company that bought the UPC from GS1 and not your company that the UPC is tracked to. So if there’s a recall or anything in that nature, there may be a data integrity issue. So to be consistent and do it right from the start, going direct to GS1 would be ideal if you have the budget for it.

Another thing to remember is that GS1 will only give you the UPC (UPC is just the numbers), but you’ll have to create the barcode yourself. The good news is that there are many free software online that you simply enter the codes (UPC numbers) provided to you, and the barcode will generate and you can download the image and place on your packaging.

If you want more details on getting UPCs for your products including costs and contact info, I have a full report on UPCs FREE inside of my Wholesale Academy program. The ONLY training dedicated to helping you scale and grow your business through wholesale. Click here to learn more!

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