EAN 13 Barcodes: Everything You Need to Know in 2023
In this article, we will explore what EAN 13 barcodes are, their key specifications, and their benefits. We also share some real-world examples to better illustrate how EAN13 barcodes are being used in the world today.
What is an EAN 13 Barcode?
An EAN-13 (European Article Number 13) barcode is a standard barcode format used worldwide for marking products often sold at retail points of sale. It's a 13-digit unique identifier for products, which includes the company prefix, item reference, and a check digit. EAN-13 barcodes are used to simplify the checkout process and track sales in retail stores.
Example: Let's say the number system digit is 5, the company prefix is 12345, the item reference is 67890, and the check digit is 2. When combined, the EAN-13 barcode for this product would be: 512345678902
In this example:
5 is the number system digit.
12345 is the company prefix.
67890 is the item reference.
2 is the check digit, calculated based on the preceding 12 digits.
Key Components of an EAN 13 Barcode
Here's a breakdown of the components of an EAN-13 barcode:
Number System (1 digit): The first digit of the EAN-13 barcode represents the numbering system character, which defines the type of product. It could indicate that the product is a book, a consumer product, or a pharmaceutical item, among other things.
Company Prefix (variable length): The next few digits (depending on the length of the company prefix) identify the manufacturer or company that owns the barcode. This prefix is unique to each manufacturer.
Item Reference (variable length): These digits following the company prefix represent a specific product or item. The length of this part of the barcode can vary based on the number of products a company needs to identify.
Check Digit (1 digit): The last digit of the barcode is a check digit. It is calculated based on the preceding 12 digits of the barcode and is used to verify the accuracy of the barcode during scanning. If the check digit does not match the calculated value, it indicates a scanning error.
Key Specifications of EAN 13 Barcodes
The EAN 13 barcode has several key specifications that define its structure and appearance:
Number of Digits:
EAN-13 barcodes consist of 13 digits. These digits are divided into different parts, as mentioned earlier: number system digit, company prefix, item reference, and check digit.
EAN-13 barcodes use a combination of black bars and white spaces to represent the 13-digit number. Each digit is encoded using a pattern of bars and spaces. Different combinations of bar and space widths represent different digits.
Bar and Space Patterns:
EAN-13 barcodes consist of two types of elements: bars and spaces. Bars are the dark lines, and spaces are the light spaces between the bars. The specific width of the bars and spaces adheres to a standard ratio defined for EAN-13 barcodes.
EAN-13 barcodes require quiet zones, which are blank spaces on both the left and right sides of the barcode. These zones are necessary to ensure that barcode scanners can properly recognize the start and end of the barcode.
EAN-13 barcodes measure approximately 37.29 millimeters in width and typically 25.93 millimeters in height, though they can be reduced to a minimum of 19.69 millimeters. The widths of individual bars and spaces range from 0.33 millimeters to 2.75 millimeters. These specific dimensions ensure accurate scanning and readability.
The minimum printing resolution for EAN-13 barcodes is typically 300 dots per inch (DPI). High-quality printing at this resolution or higher is essential to maintain the clarity and accuracy of the barcode.
Check Digit Calculation:
The 13th digit of the EAN-13 barcode is a check digit. It is calculated based on a specific algorithm involving the first 12 digits. The purpose of the check digit is to validate the accuracy of the entire barcode number.
Benefits of EAN 13 Barcodes
EAN-13 barcodes have a number of benefits, some of the most common benefits include:
EAN-13 is a globally recognized standard for product identification. It ensures consistency and compatibility across different countries and markets.
Accurate Data Entry:
EAN-13 barcodes eliminate the possibility of manual data entry errors during checkout or inventory management. Scanning the barcode provides accurate and quick information about the product.
Efficient Inventory Management:
EAN-13 barcodes help businesses keep track of their inventory levels efficiently. It enables accurate recording of sales and restocking needs, reducing the likelihood of overstocking or understocking products.
Faster Checkout Process:
EAN-13 barcodes expedite the checkout process in retail stores. Scanning barcodes is much faster and more accurate than manually entering product information, leading to shorter waiting times for customers.
By automating data entry and inventory management, businesses can allocate human resources to more value-added tasks, enhancing overall productivity.
Improved Customer Service:
Faster and more accurate checkouts improve customer satisfaction. Customers experience shorter waiting times, leading to a more positive shopping experience.
Supply Chain Efficiency:
EAN-13 barcodes are used throughout the supply chain, facilitating the tracking and management of products from manufacturers to distributors to retailers. This transparency enhances overall supply chain efficiency.
Reduction in Errors:
Barcode scanning reduces the chance of errors in pricing or product identification. This can prevent issues such as customers being charged the wrong amount for a product.
EAN-13 barcodes can provide valuable data for businesses. By analyzing sales patterns based on scanned data, companies can make informed decisions about restocking, pricing, and marketing strategies.
Compliance and Regulation:
Many retailers and distributors require products to have EAN-13 barcodes to meet regulatory and compliance standards. Having these barcodes in place ensures that products can be sold in various marketplaces.
Examples of EAN 13 Barcodes
Here are some examples to better illustrate EAN-13 barcodes:
EAN-13 Barcode for a Packet of Pasta:
In this case, the first digit might represent food items, the next 6 digits could denote the manufacturer, the following 5 digits could identify the specific pasta product, and the last digit is the checksum.
EAN-13 Barcode for a Bottle of Red Wine:
Here, the first digit signifies beverages, the next 6 digits identify the winery, the subsequent 5 digits represent the specific wine type, and the last digit is the checksum.
EAN-13 Barcode for a Packet of Flower Seeds:
For gardening products, the first digit might indicate the category, the next 6 digits could denote the seed company, the following 5 digits could identify the specific flower type, and the last digit is the checksum.
EAN-13 Barcode for a Box of Tea Bags:
In this example, the first digit might represent beverages, the next 6 digits could denote the tea company, the following 5 digits could represent the specific tea blend, and the last digit is the checksum.
EAN-13 Barcode for a Packet of Computer Mouse:
Here, the first digit signifies electronics, the next 6 digits identify the manufacturer, the subsequent 5 digits represent the specific product type, and the last digit is the checksum.
EAN-13 Barcode for a Packet of Coffee Beans:
In this case, the first digit might represent food items, the next 6 digits could denote the coffee roastery, the following 5 digits could identify the specific coffee blend, and the last digit is the checksum.
EAN-13 Barcode for a Box of Board Games:
Here, the first digit signifies entertainment products, the next 6 digits identify the board game company, the subsequent 5 digits represent the specific game title, and the last digit is the checksum.
We hope our article has now left you with a better understanding of what EAN-13 barcodes are and how they are formed.