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Tuesday, 11th of May 2021   09:08 PM

The stories below are conversations or events that happen from time to time, and continue to happen. Some of these stories help explain, by example, how many people, usually the smaller businesses with limited time and resources, get misled and exploited and end up paying twice for things, and eventually pay £1,100+ for something our members receive for £19 from BARCODE.CO.UK a UK company in business in the UK for over a quarter of a century, supplying barcodes before the Internet existed.

First some basic background information.  BARCODE.UK, like all organisations that supply barcode numbers, own a block of unique numbers, from the block of all possible 13 digit barcode numbers.  This original block was created 40+ years ago, at the dawn of the use of barcodes in the retail world, by the biggest retailers in the world - literally the world - as there is only one block of numbers globally, which is split (i.e. there has only ever been, or will ever be, one global retail number system and block of numbers in several blocks, which you can rent or buy).  Our block - our part of the original, like all blocks, reduces as we supply barcode numbers one at a time, or in tiny private blocks of 10 or 100 sold to manufacturers (which is the end point for barcode numbers).  This is simply how barcode numbers are kept unique globally, and being unique is all that barcode numbers need to be, to be valuable and very useful in the retail supply chain.

Although the barcode numbers in each block are sequential, they are utilised almost like a random 13 digit number i.e. there is no meaning to the number, until you attach it to your product and tell people (i.e. your retailers) about it; you tell them your new barcode number 5435934759341 now means your product Shampoo for Dry Hair Apple Scented - that is how simple the system is, and has been for over 40 years, and that is all as a manufacturer you need to do, on the individual barcode front.  The retailer does the rest, which is equally as simple; in a nutshell they enter your barcode on to their retail systems and an abbreviated description to fit their receipts and enter their private selling price.  Once barcode numbers are issued to a manufacturer, there is no more work involved for us, on the individual product barcode number front, therefore we (unlike some companies) do not feel it necessary to charge any annual fees or rents for doing no work.

Manufacturers have a choice to buy or rent barcode numbers, but we only offer the buy option, even though we could easily offer a rent, we choose not to.  Just like you can rent or buy a house, there are more customers who want to buy, and see the logic in that, than to rent and risk losing their numbers.  We sell barcode numbers to UK household names like Electrolux and companies that could easily afford any amount of rent, like the huge pharmaceutical companies we provide barcodes to, in 15+ countries, even though we are UK based, but they choose to buy not rent, and obviously the 10,000's of barcode numbers we supply to small businesses, is because buying is much cheaper by far and you receive much, much more when you buy, like barcode images for individual products and outer cases of products.  When you buy, you own the barcode numbers, and the numbers are an asset to your business even beyond your own lifetime, not a lifelong annual debt for a lifetime and beyond.  You also have the right to transfer the ownership to a 3rd party, which is another small advantage of owning rather than renting.


Manufacturer: How do I register each barcode number and product details once I have the barcode number?  I have seen some people outside the UK talk about registering each product.

BARCODE.UK: Sadly this is another scam to relieve small businesses of money for nothing.  In 40+ years, including obviously before the Internet, there has never, nor will there ever be, a need for product details to be registered anywhere.

Your details only ever obviously need to be exchanged between you the seller and your chosen retailer buyers (i.e. between a private manufacturer and a private retailer).  You simply hand the product to the retailer, they then scan or key the barcode number, set their price for the item and enter an abbreviated description to go on their receipts.

Obviously, if you are manufacturing 100's or 1,000's of different products, you send the retailer a spreadsheet, but that spreadsheet could never have the retailer's price in (that would be price fixing), nor could you demand how the retailer describes the product on their receipts, unless a retailer invites you to.

Usually someone must abbreviate the description to a fixed number of characters that fit on the paper receipts; each retailer has different widths of receipt, so usually they do the abbreviating.

Manufacturer: I scan my barcodes on a free app on my iPhone and nothing comes up.  I have seen some people outside the UK talk about getting your barcode numbers to be read by these apps so they look up.

BARCODE.UK: Not a huge surprise, as the app maker has not manually added your barcode number to their pathetic tiny list of common products.

Sadly another scam to grab more cash from new to the game small manufacturers.  Barcode numbers sellers that mention you can get your number looked up for a fee are also scamming you; unless you are a very weird manufacturer who instead of wanting to actually sell products through retailers you want to have people download 400 different free apps to try and find your product (this has nothing to do with retail barcodes).

There are many of these free apps and they are free because they are useless and nobody uses them (maybe a few gullible small manufacturers use them, but they do not even know what the apps are for or who wrote them and why).

No retailer on planet earth uses such apps, ask any of them.  The apps are often written by children for a school project, in fact the code to create such apps, to read barcodes, is so common, the code is open source and given away free; no wonder there are so many free apps (all worthless and hence free).

BARCODE.UK owns and operates £3,000 industry standard ISO (International Standards Organisation) quality control barcode verifier equipment that can test barcodes.

The very same equipment used by; Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Harrods, etc.

BARCODE.UK sells this industry standard barcode quality control barcode verifiers equipment to; Yeo Valley, Soreen, Farm Foods, etc. (i.e. all of the UK's household names) as well as to the world's largest label printing and commercial packaging manufacturers, that all of the household names use to print their packaging, and we sell to industry; Siemens, DHL, GE, etc.

Manufacturer: I called someone called GS1 and they told me they were the only place you can get barcode numbers, but I saw BARCODE.UK so I thought something was not quite right. BARCODE.UK: Please call GS1 back - tell them you have spoken to BARCODE.UK and ask them again. Manufacturer: I'm shocked and absolutely disgusted, GS1 changed their answer 180 degrees. Note: She was so angry, she asked us what could she do, and we said call; Trading Standards, your local MP, etc. then she purchased barcode numbers from BARCODE.UK which saved her, a struggling small business, £200 saved immediately, £300 total saved in 12 months and every year £100+ saved for life.
Manufacturer: I purchased barcode numbers from somewhere and now I need case barcodes. BARCODE.UK: If you had purchased them from us you could have had those FREE.  But we do have professional services for people who buy barcode numbers or rent barcode numbers from other organisations. The cost is £200 or £0 for case codes that will last you a lifetime, £0 if you purchased the numbers from BARCODE.UK.
Manufacturer: How do I register my barcode numbers?  BARCODE.UK: There is no such procedure - never has been in 40 years, never will be; what use would it serve.  Some organisations pretend there is, to defraud you of more money for nothing.  Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, etc. all deal with manufacturers on an individual basis; they negotiate price, contracts, etc. everything one to one.  Barcode numbers are simply something they scan or key in to their computer systems when they key in their selling price (which you have no say on) and their abbreviated product description (which you have no say on) to fit on their POS (point of sale) receipts; which can be different widths from store to store.
Manufacturer: Do I need or get certificates?  BARCODE.UK: There is no such thing as a barcode number certificate - never has been in 40 years, never will be.  Some unscrupulous barcode number providers that rent or sell barcode numbers made up the term certificates and print their own made up certificates; which is not worth the paper it is written on, as it represents purely artificial nonsense, aimed at giving the illusion of peace of mind (which is ironic, as the person printing the fraudulent certificate is participating in a confidence trick; which would hardly give any business peace of mind).

Manufacturer: Does any part of a barcode number mean anything?  BARCODE.UK: No - is the short answer.  Ask your retail customer this question, if you want the details from the horse's mouth so to speak.  Although, even then, it is pot luck if who you speak to is fully trained in all of the unnecessary background to barcode symbologies, as these details are totally irrelevant to retailers, so only a few would know or care; because it is not how barcodes are used in retail day in day out for the last 40 years.

Like your car number plate, the number just needs to be unique.  That is why you must buy or rent a barcode number and not simply make a number up; it could clash with someone else's random number.  They must be guaranteed unique, so it can be used to look up a record in any private database, to find out (by reference to private data) details about the thing the number is physically on (be it a car number plate, or a barcode number).

In the case of cars, who is the current owner is in the database, and in the case of barcode numbers, what is the current retailer's price and retailer's description of the product is in the database, not in the barcode number (the barcode number is just a meaningless key to look up meaningful data).

IMPORTANT: Not your price to them, but the price they are selling it for that day, and not your long product description, that you initially gave them, as that would not fit on their tiny receipts, so they abbreviated it; receipt widths vary from retailer to retailer (we know, because we also sell EPOS receipt printers).

The car database must be central for all cars, but only inside each country (not the world for cars remember, that is why you need a GB sticker, so the French police know to contact the UK for details, if they are dealing with a car from the UK on holiday).  Similarly, the barcode database (of products a retailer sells) is local or private to a retailer (as most sell very different products - shoe retailers do not sell beer).

Unlike cars, because each retailer records locally all products that come in to their shop, which is like French police recording the details of all foreign drivers entering France (so they could look it up locally, but that would be too time consuming, as so many people come and go) - but the retailer can easily do this, just once, for the lifetime of each product, and then attach their private data to the barcode number record i.e. their private selling price and their private abbreviated description to appear on their receipts.

No retailer needs to be able to look at a product barcode number and in their head immediately say - this is from Peru or the company is Peruvian Jam Ltd, like some mastermind contestant (mainly because it says these things on the packet usually anyway) - but primarily because, if they scan the barcode number in to their retail IT system, it will look up any amount of information they hold in their private database of private suppliers.

Each of their private product records will say who supplies that product to them, the buy and sell prices, your phone number, etc. (i.e. your whole details, given to the retailer by you, usually they give you a huge form to fill in your basic company details, these details are given separately to your retail customers when you negotiate privately with each of them).

Retailers do not sell the products of all world suppliers or random people off the street, they record privately their supplier company; name, address, VAT number, phone number, contact person, etc.  If they scan the barcode in to their specialised POS (point of sale) tills, it looks up, in the same or smaller private database, belonging to the retailer, the private price and privately abbreviated description, to be able to total and print a receipt.

We have many examples of answering questions from UK manufacturers - and manufacturers all over the globe - about what is a relatively mundane process of getting barcode numbers for their products.  We are happy to guide you through the actually small maze or miss-information, and in a few minutes you are a barcode expert (and realise how ludicrously simple it really all is).  We teach businesses so much about every aspect (if they have time) of; barcode printing, barcode verification, barcode use in the supply chain, etc., etc. that they are blown away by the amount of practical knowledge we have around the subject.  But the process of buying barcode numbers themselves is child's play.