What is Bar Code?

Barcodes make doing business more efficient for companies. Barcode and QR code provide a way to track/trace store, information about goods, from individual items to large stocks of millions of items. They serve a crucial role and provide advantages over manually entering information.

A barcode essentially is a method to encode information in a visual pattern that a machine can read. Barcode is a machine-readable code number and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. The combination of black and white bars (elements) represents different text characters following a set algorithm for that barcode type. If you change the sequence of elements you get the different text. A barcode scanner reads this pattern of black and white which is then turned into a line of text your computer can understand.

A barcode can hold any sort of text information you encode. Normally, with product labels, the price is not usually encoded. The barcode will denote what product it is and your POS software or database will have pricing information associated with this.

Type of Barcodes

 1D (linear,one dimensional) code is the typical vertical-style barcode that most people are familiar with. There are several versions of 1D codes and few encode only numbers while others can encode any keyboard character. All the information in the code is organized horizontally from left to right. These types of codes can be read by any type of barcode scanner.1D barcodes can have from 20-25 characters.

The first three digits of the merchandise barcode identify where the product was made. Let us understand what is the significance of digits read by the barcode reader.

EAN stands for European Article Number (manufacturing code ). EAN is a 13 digit barcode used on products to be sold outside the USA and is used internationally.  
UPC stands for Universal Product Code.UPC is a 12-digit bar code used extensively for retail packaging in the United States or Canada (00 to 13)
An item incorporating a barcode with prefix number ‘890’ signifies ownership by an Indian organization.
The first 3 digits are 690,691, to 695 then the product is Made in China.

2D barcodes are a little more complex as they organize information vertically and horizontally. This allows 2D codes to carry for much more information and take up less space than a 1D code. 2D codes require an imager scanner to be read properly.2D codes can have up to 2,000 characters.

Barcode 1

What is QR Code?

QR code, short for Quick Response, is a two-dimensional (2D) barcode, most of the time linked to a website (URL), and is readable by smartphones.  Every QR code consists of a variety of black squares and dots which represent certain pieces of information. The data in a QR code can be alphanumeric, numeric, binary or Kanji (Kanji is a form of Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese writing system)
The cell phone needs a QR code reader. It allows encoding more than 4000 characters in a two-dimensional barcode. QR code can store (and digitally present) far more data, including URL links, geo coordinates, and text. The other key feature of QR Codes is that instead of requiring a chunky hand-held scanner to scan them, many modern cell phones can scan them. “QR Code” is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED, created in 1994.
You can easily generate a QR code using one of the sites like Kaywa.com.The content of a QR Code cannot be changed once generated. However, Dynamic QR Code is customizable. QR Code pointing to a static URL that hosts the actual content can be changed after the QR Code has been printed.

QR code doesn’t need to be standard black and white. Multiple colors can be embedded with a color gradient without affecting scanability. The only rule of thumb is that the code color should generally be dark and placed against a light-colored background. 

Significance of the first three digits in Bar Codes

GS1 is a non-profit organization that assigns unique numbers in barcodes.GS1 notes that “since GS1 member companies can manufacture products anywhere in the world, GS1 prefixes do not identify the country of origin for a given product. The first three digits of European Article Number (EAN) barcodes refer to the manufacturing code. Every country that uses the EAN system has its own numbering authority which is liable for assigning manufacturer codes for companies within its jurisdiction.

Assume, a company may have its headquarters in India. The EAN organization in India has the code “890”, but all the products of the company may be manufactured in Mexico. The Mexico-made products would still have the “890” prefix code.

A live example is my iPhone X which has bar code no 019 (EAN), which is of the USA, while it is manufactured in China.
 The first three digits of the product barcode may sometimes indicate where the product was manufactured, but it will not always do so. For example, a barcode that has 690 as the first three digits indicates that the barcode was assigned by the Chinese EAN numbering authority. However, it does not necessarily mean that the product was actually manufactured in China.

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