Barcoding your products: advantages & best practices

While Vdepot can carry out its fulfilment service without barcodes, there are many good reasons to adopt barcoding for your product range. Let’s talk through the advantages and then we’ll explain where to begin with getting your products barcoded.

Guide to barcoding for ecommerce

While Vdepot can carry out its fulfilment service without barcodes, there are many good reasons to adopt barcoding for your product range. Let’s talk through the advantages and then we’ll explain where to begin with getting your products barcoded.

Before we start, it’s worth highlighting that barcodes are referred to as GTINs (Global Trade Identification Numbers) in the world of ecommerce. A barcode is the machine-readable image version of a GTIN.

The benefits of barcoding your products

Better fulfilment

What do we mean by better fulfilment? We mean that barcodes make the fulfilment process faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective.

Vdepot uses barcode scanners to check that the correct item has been picked before packing each order. In the absence of a barcode, we instead get a second team member to check the order is correct. This means that the picking/packing process takes more time per order, so we have to charge a slightly higher price for non-barcoded items. It also means that there is an increased likelihood of mis-picks which in turn take time and money to resolve.


Better discoverability online

GTINs are used by search engines and online marketplaces to recognise and represent your products correctly, making them more visible to consumers. If you’re planning to sell your products on Amazon, it’s mandatory that each product must have a GTIN.

Without a barcode, your products are much less likely to show up in Google’s and Bing’s shopping results. If you have a Google Merchant Center account, and your product pages contain all the necessary information and their own unique GTIN, you are well on your way to succeeding on Google’s organic and paid shopping listings – according to GS1 UK, adding a GS1 barcode to your online product listings can increase your impressions by 40% and conversions by 20% on Google.


Increased trust in your brand

Because each number is unique, GTINs give your retailers and consumers trust in what’s on the physical and digital shelf. Anyone can look up your barcode in the GS1 database to get reassurance that you are in fact offering the exact product advertised.

Likewise, if you’re a retailer ordering a new product or working with a new wholesaler for the first time, barcodes are another way to ensure that what you’ve ordered matches the stock you’ve received.

Aside from the information a barcode provides, the mere presence of a barcode will increase confidence among your consumers and prospective stockists. It signals that you are a legitimate business, that you’re organised and that you’re not skipping any steps.

How to get barcodes for your products

There are lots of self-acclaimed barcode providers out there, but GS1 is the only authorised and globally-recognised provider of GTINs, so we strongly recommend that you register any new barcodes through this organisation.

GS1 operates in 116 countries – if you’re a UK company looking to get a barcode, start here on the GS1 UK website.

GTINs are not required for one-off items, such as vintage second-hand clothing or certain customised-to-order products.


What type of barcode do I need?

In addition to ‘GTIN’, you may have come across ‘ISBN’, ‘EAN’, ‘UPC’ and more. These are all subcategories of GTIN – but which ones are required for your business?

Vdepot can work with any barcode format, so this question will not affect your fulfilment process. However, factors such as what type of product you’re selling, what countries you’re selling into, and whether you need to log batch number/best before dates, all influence what type of barcode you need. GS1 UK explains the different types of barcodes on their website.


How do I get the barcodes onto my stock?

Once your barcodes have been registered, your next step is implementing them so that you can realise all of the benefits we covered earlier.

To implement them on your ecommerce site, make sure you add your new GTIN number to the ‘GTIN’ or ‘barcode’ field on each product page, so that it can be read by search engines. Make sure your Google Merchant Center account is pulling this information through – if you’ve connected Merchant Center to your store using an API feed, it should update automatically.

You’ll also need to coordinate with your manufacturers and your fulfilment company. Your manufacturers should be able to incorporate adding the barcode into their process.

If your manufacturer won’t do this, or if you want to retrospectively add barcodes onto your existing stock, Vdepot can help you – if you provide us with barcode stickers, we can apply these to your products as an additional service.

Either way, you need to make your fulfilment partner aware of any new barcodes so that they can add them to their order management system, and make it faster to fulfil these products.

Are there any downsides to barcodes?

Most brands and retailers would agree that the benefits outweigh any negatives of barcoding, but let’s highlight them for balance nonetheless.



When you register a barcode for a product that does not yet have one assigned, you are effectively purchasing the licensing right for each new barcode. To do this, you will need to register as a member of GS1, and renew your membership annually to keep the barcodes in use.

It’s also easy to underestimate how many barcodes you actually need, as each product variant needs its own GTIN. For example, if you sell 10 styles of t-shirt, but each style is available in 9 colours and 4 sizes – that’s 360 (10 x 9 x 4) GTINs required, not 10!

Refer to GS1’s website for their GTIN calculator and pricing guides.


Facilitates competitive pricing

This is a good thing really as it benefits consumers, but still something you need to be aware of. If the barcoded items you are selling D2C are also available from other retailers, the presence of a barcode makes it easier than ever for shoppers to compare what different retailers are charging for the same product.

This is because Google uses the barcode/GTIN to aggregate multiple retailer listings for every product in its shopping results, allowing shoppers to compare the product price, delivery price, returns policies and shop reviews all on one screen. We can’t really call this a downside because it makes information more transparent for consumers – it just means that retailers need to keep a closer eye on how their prices and delivery rates compare to their competitors.

Source: Google Shopping Results

Build your business on professional foundations

We recommend you check out the GS1 UK website for more detail on barcode registration and upkeep.

If you’re looking to do things by the book and adopt a ‘right first time’ approach when launching your new ecommerce business, you may want to speak with a fulfilment company at the beginning so you can factor in the benefits, charges and processes involved in professional and scalable fulfilment.