Cheat Sheet: Are Cheap Barcodes Really Worth Buying?

So, you want to get hold of some cheap barcodes do you?

If you sell a product or you fit the description of an eCommerce seller shipping through Amazon, then I’m sure at some point you’ve been faced with the decision of where to buy your barcode numbers from.

Although what if you don’t have the budget or if registering with the world authoritative database of barcodes (GS1) is simply not an option for your company? What other options do you have to get hold of your barcode numbers?

Lets look at some of those options here..

Firstly, why not register with GS1?

Previous to the online giant Amazon telling all its merchant sellers that all items sold on their sites must have a barcode number allocated to each item, the GS1 had a high barrier to entry in order to register with them.

Before, to obtain your minimum purchase of barcodes from GS1 you had to buy thousands of barcodes. However more recently the GS1 have lowered that barrier to a much lower minimum purchase requirement of just 1000 barcodes.

Your minimum purchase included with the annual GS1 member fee starts at just a few hundred pounds sterling (on the UK site or a few hundred dollars (on the US site and a little higher price of entry on the Australian site ( This is good news  for companies with a lower turnover.

(For a complete list of all GS1 offices listed by country go here)

What does the new GS1 barcode minimum purchase mean?

Simply put, for smaller businesses (like maybe even yours) who previously would have thought it not a reasonable investment, are now able to obtain barcodes straight from the zebra’s mouth so to speak (ahem, rather the authoritative GS1 barcode database).

By registering with GS1 and by paying the annual licence fee, you’ll also be acquiring your 1000 minimum barcode purchase included in the membership fee. This is actually a small price to pay considering you’ll be acquiring all the barcodes you’re likely to need (unless you have over 1000 SKU’s in your product portfolio of course) and you’ll also be able to sleep at night knowing your barcode number are legitimate and have not just been made up by some racketeering Albanian mafia associate (or any other wrongdoer for that matter!).

In return for your GS1 membership fee, you’ll also be able to receive all the information you need to generate your barcodes and ensure compliance with larger vendors as your business grows over time. Besides, when the time comes to acquires larger trade customers it will be a requirement that your barcodes are GS1 registered and they will know if you’re numbers are not in the GS1 database.

What if you only require a handful or a couple of barcodes?

If you only require a small amount of barcodes the option to buy from GS1 still makes good sense. Besides getting the reassurance and the new ‘low price to join’ and buy your barcodes from GS1, you’ll also have plenty surplus barcodes to share with your ‘barcode business buddies’ (ahem, ‘or other businesses you might like to share or trade your spare barcodes with).

Of course if you don’t have an outlet for your spare barcodes, then you could look at other options.

Can you delegate barcode sourcing to your printer or packaging supplier?

If you’re buying printed packaging from a printer specializing in retail packaging then you could simply delegate the entire ‘barcode brainteaser’ (ahem, the sourcing of your barcode), to your printer.

If your printer doesn’t specialize in producing the artwork for your packaging in house and is unable to generate your barcode for you, then they would probably know a packaging designer or graphic reproduction agency that will .

What about buying surplus barcodes from resellers?

Another option is to source from barcode distributors (resellers) who are selling their own spare barcodes. To mention just a few and at the time of publishing this, here are a couple of sellers that seem to be popular with Amazon merchants.. – This is a website belonging to a parent company based in Canada who produce batteries. It makes sense that if you have surplus barcodes, then why not  go ahead and offer these ‘spares’ to other companies. Its another revenue stream for the parent company (even if its small its a revenue stream nevertheless) and possibly a way of recouping the GS1 licence fee investment. It also helps out other businesses who might only need a few barcodes, which is a nice way to keep the economy machine whirrring don’t you think!

Don’t overpay for your barcodes..

As a side note, beware of some resellers charging silly prices for barcodes. Cheap upc barcodes are exactly that, they are cheap although some other resellers are asking 20-30usd or more per barcode! You shouldn’t be paying more than a couple of dollars for your numbers even if you only do just need maybe one or two numbers.

Please do use your own due diligence when buying from any barcode reseller by thoroughly checking out the parent company first although another company surplus barcodes is..– Again here’s another reseller of barcodes although wherever you do decide to buy, (I’ll mention it again in case you mist it the first time).. please use your OWN due diligence if you decide not to buy barcodes directly from GS1.

With that said, in my experience buying from a reseller can be a cost effective way to get your numbers if you have less than say 100 sku’s and if you’re unlikely to be adding more SKU’s to your portfolio in the near future.

If you’ve hit the ‘barcode barrier’ (ahem, or if you just need more information about your barcodes), like maybe..

‘what does truncating my barcode mean?’


‘what type of barcode do I need?’


‘how do I generate printable barcodes and make sure they scan?’

..or any of those types of questions, then go ahead and download our very own barcode guide..


Click here to download the FREE cheat sheet..

Overcoming Barcode Barriers

‘5 Simple Steps to Getting Your Barcodes Printed,

(for Online Merchants)’

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