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Home » Barcodes In South Africa: A Guide For Your Retail Business

Barcodes In South Africa: A Guide For Your Retail Business

Est. Reading: 4 minutes
Barcodes are a must have for every business selling consumer products within South Africa, small or large. For new and existing businesses, setting up a barcode system for your product selection can seem like a daunting task. However, this does not have to be the case. What kind of barcodes should you buy? How many would you need? Where should you get them from? These are all very important questions that every new business owner needs to ask at some point.

The Most Common Retail Barcodes

There are a huge variety of barcode standards out there, all for different purposes and found in different industries. The two most popular, used on the vast majority of retail products out there, are the EAN and UPC barcodes. They are internationally recognised standards that will allow you to sell your products in the vast majority of retailers throughout South Africa as well as in any country throughout the world. They are thirteen and twelve digits long respectively. They are used to control the sales process from the beginning when retailers receive products, right through to the end when they sell the products to the end consumer. Most retailers in South Africa will require your products to be barcoded in order to stock them. 

The number of barcodes that you will need all depends on the products that you would like to sell. You will require a separate EAN or UPC code for every size and variation of your product. So, for example, if you are selling shampoo in two different sizes and two different variations, you will need to buy four unique barcodes. 

In addition to EAN and UPC codes for each individual product (and variation) you offer, there is another code that is often required if you are supplying large quantities of your product(s). This is known as a box or case barcode, designated the ITF-14 standard, and is generally required by retailers to whom you are supplying your products in bulk. This bulk code, which appears on the box containing the individual products and is linked to the product’s individual EAN or UPC code. This makes it easier for retailers to receive your products into their inventory. However, not all retailers require the ITF-14 code. 

Informational Barcodes

QR codes are becoming more popular throughout South Africa. They are two dimensional codes that are used to store a long sequence of text which, when scanned, redirects to a website or application. There are many uses for this code, but the most common one is in mobile payment applications, such as Snapscan. These mobile payment applications allow clients to pay for their purchases simply by scanning the QR code with their smartphone. Initiating Snapscan in your business will speed up the payment process and build client loyalty, thereby helping to establish your client base. QR codes are also used for marketing your business (such as having it redirect to your website) and boosting client’s awareness of what you can offer them. 

Acquiring Barcodes

So what options are there for one to acquire barcodes in South Africa? There are two main ways to do this, which applies both locally and internationally. 

Firstly, you can buy barcodes directly from GS1 South Africa. This is a branch of the organisation that regulates and manages barcode standards throughout the world, and from where all barcodes originate. The downside of buying through GS1 South Africa is that they are fairly expensive to set up, and that there are also annual renewal fees that will have to be paid for each barcode that you “buy” from them. In addition, in order to buy barcodes through this channel, it is necessary for you to become a direct member with the GS1, headquartered in the United States. There is also training involved as well as a fair amount of paperwork to get through. This process would only be financially viable if you are a large company supplying hundreds or thousands of unique products to retailers.

The second way is to buy barcodes through a reseller. The benefit here is that you only ever pay a one-time purchase fee, with no renewal fees or hidden costs. Resellers purchase unused codes from the US-based GS1 and then resell them in South Africa and throughout the world. These unused codes originated within the GS1 database so they are fully legitimate and legal. However, It is very important to choose a reliable and reputable reseller who will guarantee that the codes that you buy are unique, not in use, and are for your use only. In South Africa, SA Barcodes has served local customers for more than a decade. They supply all types of barcodes at very competitive rates and are more than happy to help guide you through the process. The process is quick and easy, requiring no paperwork and no annual fees whatsoever. You pay a once off fee for your barcodes and there are no hidden costs to worry about. Through SA Barcodes, the barcode is yours forever.


Now That You Have Your Barcodes...

After purchasing the barcodes, what is the next step? You must then attach the barcodes to your products. There are two ways of doing this. First off, you can include the barcode directly in your package design. This is the more popular way of doing this as it is the simplest way of making sure that each of your products has the code on it. The second way of attaching the codes is to print them onto labels or stickers. These can then be manually attached to each individual product. However, the second option can be time consuming and laborious. 

Once you have your barcoded products, the next step is to approach a retailer or several retailers where you would like to stock your products. If the retailer is interested, they will ask you to fill in a product information form. This form will include information such as the name and contact details of your business, your product details, each item’s individual barcode as well as your price list. 

To conclude, before you buy barcodes in South Africa, it is vitally important that you use trusted barcode resellers and avoid fraudulent resellers. Barcoding your products will ensure that your products will be accepted by as many retailers as possible and boost your business’s reputation in the long-run. The more retail shelves your product sits on the more exposure you will get, and the more clients will buy your product and ultimately the more profit you will make. Barcodes are one way to stand out from the hordes and ensure that your business is taken seriously. It is important to use everything at your disposal to ensure that your business thrives. 


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