• Barcode Ireland Team

The EAN-13 barcode for retail in Ireland and beyond…

In order to sell any product in retail in Ireland and beyond, (with the exception of books and journals that require their own specific barcodes, ISBN and ISSN), you will require an EAN-13 barcode.

EAN-13 and UPC-A barcode symbologies.
EAN-13 and UPC-A barcode symbologies.

The EAN-13 (European Article Number, also known as the EAN, GTIN) is a 13 digit, one dimensional barcode symbology used most commonly in the retail industry in Ireland, Europe, and most of the rest of the world. Employed at the POS (Point Of Sale) in supermarkets and stores, they are specifically designed for high volume scanning.

The EAN-13 barcode was derived by adding another digit to the UPC-A (Universal Product Code) barcode, used predominantly in the US and Canada, so that it could serve the millions of products sold globally.

Although the UPC system preceded the use of EAN barcodes, the EAN was made retrospectively compatible. In theory, all scanners designed to read UPC barcodes should also read EAN, and vice-versa.

Barcode basics

Essentially, barcodes are a method of representing data in a visual, machine readable form. Consisting of a series of parallel black and white lines or bars, that when scanned by optical scanners, relay instant, important information about a product.

The human readable numbers located under the black and white lines of a 1D (1 Dimensional) barcode represent a uniquely assigned item number. The barcode is the representation of that number. The numerals are there as a back up should software fail to scan the barcode image properly requiring manual entry.

Having said that, barcodes are scanned daily some 5 billion times at a 99% successful scan rate!

No data is stored on the number, product information is assigned to the number by retailers when entering it into their computerised inventory system. Each product or variation in product i.e. size, volume, colour, flavour etc. will require a unique barcode identifier. Separate numbers are also required when the product changes - except when the price changes.

The benefits of barcodes to retailers are manifold.

Inventory control

Barcodes make it possible to track inventory precisely reducing inventory administration levels and lowering overheads. Fast selling inventory can be identified quickly and automatically reordered. Slow selling inventory can be identified preventing inventory build up. A single barcode can tell you where in the world your product is and when it has arrived at its destination and therefore can assure tracking accountability. The barcode also aides in the preventable loss to any business whether deliberate or inadvertent, i.e. ‘shrinkage’.

Reduction in employee training time

A hand held scanner can be mastered in a few minutes as opposed to the time needed to learn how to input entire inventories and their pricing, ultimately resulting in less expenditure in employee training time.

Elimination of human error

Barcode scanning is fast and reliable, infinitely more so than input by hand. In terms of accuracy, studies have indicated that even the most adept data entry operator will make an error in every 300 keystrokes. However even the simplest barcode has not more than 1 error in every 394,000 scans!

Inexpensive to print

Barcode images are relatively inexpensive to design and print and cheap to mass produce. They can be customised and printed on various materials. A cost effective business adoption.

Data collection

Barcodes are very versatile and can be used to collect many different kinds of data. They can be used to track inventory, shipping and location of equipment. Historical data can be used to predict seasonal fluctuations.

Instant data retrieval

The retrieval of information is instantaneous as it’s scanned into a central computer and therefore immediately available. This saves the time and costs involved in manual data capture and retrieval.

Better decision making

Because barcodes provide rapid reliable information, retailers are able to make accelerated, accurate and informed decisions which improves efficiency and results in savings in time and money.

Customer satisfaction and retention

By improving upon the accuracy, efficiency and accountability aspect of your business, customers will continue to seek out your business and purchase your products. According to the 2016 Wasp Barcode Small Business Report, some 43% of small business owners believe improving the existing customer experience and retaining customers is the best strategy to improve revenue growth.

Competition advantage

Businesses in the modern world are expected to keep abreast of technological advances and the adoption of user-friendly, flexible and relatively inexpensive barcode technology gives an obvious edge over the competition.


The above are essential elements for scalability in retail i.e. expansion and revenue growth whilst minimising increases in operational costs. Whatever a companies size, it’s never too early or too late to build an infrastructure that assists growth. By integrating a barcode system into your business, you are building in scalability.

Barcodes are the key to retail running smoothly. Simple, flexible, fast, accurate and effective, barcodes are the cornerstone of gargantuan successful supply chains and yet inexpensive and reliable enough for retail businesses of all sizes, right down to the entrepreneur, to utilise.

The EAN-13 barcode, indispensable for retail in Ireland... and beyond.

Our barcodes work internationally. Should you require barcodes for your products, please visit our Buy page www.barcodeireland.ie/buy, or contact us on info@barcodeireland.ie or through the contact form on our website www.barcodeireland.ie/contact and let Barcode Ireland help your business.



http://www.waspbarcode.co.uk/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-barcodes/? https://verifiedlabel.com/knowledgecenter/know_barcodes.aspx https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcode https://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-using-barcode-technology-58387.html

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