Barcodes are essential element for the retail industry. In other words, a barcode speeds up the processing time, manages inventories, simplifies the shipping/receiving procedure and maximizes efficiency. Therefore, it makes the customer experience better and more convenient. However, the most common concern that retailers and store owners have is to know which barcode best suits their business.

In this article, we compare and contrast various barcodes and how they can help simplify the retail procedure.   

Types of Barcodes

Various types of barcodes fall under two major categories; One-Dimensional and Two-Dimensional barcodes. However, the type of barcodes that retailers need highly depends on the amount of data they need to store.

One-Dimensional Barcodes

1D barcodes represent the product data through varying parallel lines. This barcode type consists of unique codes. Consequently, these unique codes are used for various purposes.

Universal Product Code (UPC)

One of the most popular and common types of one-Dimensional (1D) barcodes is the Universal Product Code (UPC). Most importantly, the Universal Product Code (UPC) is used in the retail and food industry, for example, the retail items in a retail store are labeled with the Universal Product Code (UPC). Further, this barcode consists of 12 digits and is also known as the European Article Numbering Code (EAN).

Universal barcodes have various advantages for consumers. That is to say, they make it quite convenient for retailers to identify a product and its price instantly. Therefore they enhance the speed and processing of identifying item verification. Moreover, they enhance productivity because it eliminates the need to enter information manually. Further, it tracks inventories way more accurately than hand counting. 

Code 39 

Code 39 is another barcode type. Firstly, it is used for tracking inventories. Secondly, it is used for various other coding purposes. It is further used in manufacturing and many other industries. 

Code 39 consists of variable length. In addition, its length can be adjusted based on the type of application. This first-ever alphanumeric code can encode digits, upper case letters, and a few other characters. Code 39 is commonly used worldwide. It has fewer character choices as compared to code 128. However, Code 39 is significant and useful in such applications where performing calculations is difficult and troublesome.

Code 128

On the other hand, Code 128 is another 1D barcode type, used for shipping and packaging. Moreover, this barcode type is quite compact because it uses the least amount of space as compared to all the other 1D barcode types. It is used for both barcodes such as alphanumeric and numeric. One of the major benefits of Code 128 is that it can easily be divided into segments; depending upon the user’s choice. That is to say, users would decide as to which characters to include. Moreover, Code 128 utilizes a checksum digit in order to verify products.

Interleaved 2 of 5 (ITF) Barcode Scanner

The interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes is another linear barcode. However, this barcode is used on 35mm film canisters and cartons. In an interleaved 2 of 5 barcodes, information is decoded depending on the width of and space between the bars. To clarify further every 2nd bar out of every 5 bars are wide. ITF barcodes are mostly used in warehouses and for distribution purposes. Moreover, they identify cartons containing products. The interleaved 2 of 5 barcode is more effective than the regular 2 of 5 barcodes. That is to say, it utilizes both space as well as the bars. In addition, it is self-monitoring and does not require a check-digit.

Postal Numerical Encoding Technique barcode (PostNET)

Another barcode type is specifically used by the Postal Service of the United States. The Postal Numerical Encoding Technique barcode (PostNET) is also a linear type of barcode. It is used for zip codes. Therefore, it makes the delivery procedure and sorting of the mails easier and simple.

Two-Dimensional Barcodes

2D barcodes use geometrical patterns, for example, squares, hexagons, and dots. Most importantly, 2D barcodes are capable of using vast numbers of characters. Moreover, these vast numbers do not affect its small and compact size. Therefore, 2D barcodes are ideal when it comes to holding large data. Further, the level of error correction is much higher in 2D barcodes in comparison to 1D barcodes. In other words, the 2D barcodes have the ability to defy the damages without causing any setbacks. In addition, the 2D barcodes are quite flexible regarding the scan direction. Consequently, this makes 2D barcodes more compatible because it enables retailers to scan items from various directions. 

Having said that, the use of 1D barcodes is more as compared to 2D barcodes, in the retail industry. However, 2D barcodes are beneficial to modern business for example; QR codes are most effective when it comes to tracking. Moreover, they are perfect for marketing through print media, such as business cards, magazines etc. Another effective 2D barcode is the Data Matrix barcode. This barcode type is beneficial in labeling small products and can be read through mobile phones. In other words, both these 2D barcodes are highly efficient and fast. Therefore, retailers who are aiming to enhance their processing experience should opt for these barcodes.  

PDF417 is another 2D barcode that enables retailers to secure large data. Further, the PDF417 has the ability to encode photographs, fingerprints, and signatures. In addition, to this, PDF417 is used in some countries on the driving license. It encodes names, photographs, addresses, driving records, etc. Moreover, airline tickets also use the PDF417 code. 

Choosing the Right Barcode for Your Retail Business

The two most common barcodes used in the retail industry are the UPC; Universal Product Code and Code 128 barcode. That is to say, the UPC barcodes are used for individual items. Consequently, it is used in the form of the pricing tag, for example, it states the price, the manufacturing of the product and the batch it belongs to. On the other hand, code 128 is used for a large amount of data so they are used on the boxes that contain these items.

The data in one-dimensional barcodes is presented in a linear way. Therefore, large complex data makes the code too wide. As a result, it becomes difficult for retailers to manage products. Most importantly, the small products that need to be traced and labeled. That is to say, 2D barcodes are becoming increasingly popular over the last decade. However, 1D barcodes also have significant benefits that cannot be understated.   

To sum up, retailers shall now have a fair insight into the various types of barcodes. Therefore, it shall now be convenient for retailers to choose barcode suitable for their business. Most importantly, retailers should ensure that there is no comparison between 1D and 2D barcodes. All the barcode types are exclusive and highly practical. In addition, they are all effective in tracking and labeling products. However, the difference only lies in the type of data that needs to be encoded. Moreover, how retailers need their products to be scanned. Further retailers must take into consideration the character sets their operational systems will integrate. 

Barcode and POS

The factor that holds most significance is the barcode’s connectivity with an effective POS System containing a barcode reader. That is to say, retailers can use the best barcodes available, but if the barcode reader is not up to the mark and lacks in efficiently handling the barcode, it is of no use. However, retailers must be aware that most POS Systems are barcode compliant. That is to say, a good and effective POS System, in relation to the barcode, performs the cash register functions effectively and successfully. Therefore retailers must check with their POS System and current software before deciding upon barcodes.


Products can be stored in the system using an effective barcode. Consequently, it keeps a check and monitors the store’s inventory. As a result, it helps retailers most importantly in the shopping seasons. In other words, retailers can keep track of all products, and restock the unavailable items immediately. Consequently, the barcode immensely changed the retail industry because it saves money and keeps products always in stock. To sum up, retail stores throughout the world use barcodes. In other words, it will not be wrong if we say that the barcode has drastically changed the retailers’ life because it has proved to be revolutionary. Toggle panel: Post Options

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