What is Universal Product Code (UPC)?

Every product you’re using has a UPC. Everything from your fridge to your room has a UPC. It’s the barcode printed on the packing of your day-to-day products. 

UPCs are used for retail goods, so they help with the orders and processing them. UPC is somewhat a part of the product label.

A product label has two different parts, one is the unique number on it, and the other one is the bar code itself.

The UPC is a 12-digit number, and it is much like a GTIN number except for the fact that UPC is a barcode.

When an item is scanned at the register, UPCs are meant to make it simple to identify product characteristics such as the brand name, item, size, and color. 

Solve all your Product information worries through a single solution

Expediting the grocery store checkout procedure is the main reason they were developed in the first place. UPCs can be used to track inventory inside a store or warehouse.

All products on the Amazon marketplace have a unique code called an Amazon UPC.

 It makes the item stand out from the many others already available in the online market. 

It is simple to recognize certain products that are sold on Amazon worldwide thanks to UPCs. Imagine it as Amazon’s system for classifying each item in its database.

In the age of digital marketing, everything is digital. Many online retailers have switched from using a product’s UPC to Universal Product Codes. With UPCs, consumers are able to find products online easily.

What is a UPC made of?

universal product code upc definition
Image credit: Barcodestalk

The Universal Product Code or UPC is a unique symbol that identifies a product. It is composed of 12 characters, each of which represents one of the digits on a price code. UPC codes are used by retailers and wholesalers to track inventory and identify products. UPCs are mainly used in the United States and some other countries.

You’ve probably never paid attention to a UPC label until recently. But if you’re like me, you’ll be excited to know that the UPC system is actually pretty cool.

 It’s a quick and easy way to identify a product. UPCs are similar to barcodes, but they’re much simpler. Barcodes are a system that helps retailers identify what products they have in stock.

Advantages of UPC

UPC has been used for over three decades and has quite a lot of benefits, these benefits include:

  1. Cost Efficiency
  2. Accuracy
  3. Ease of use

Cost Efficiency

Barcode systems use relatively simple devices. Over the last 30 years, the mechanics haven’t changed much. This also means that the operating costs of UPC systems are considerably lower.

Considering all the time and effort this saves businesses and institutions, we find that the benefits outweigh the costs. A basic UPC system typically costs about $1000. 

This already includes a label printer, hardware, and software.

A basic system can be set up for several years. Basically, a solid UPC system pays for itself given the efficiency gains.


Despite its supposed simplicity, UPC is still reliable after 30 years. Using barcodes eliminates the need for employees to manually enter data. 

This is especially important for large inventories as things can be difficult to keep track of.

By skipping this step, employees can track each item simply by scanning the barcode. If that doesn’t work, you can look up her UPC number under the barcode. 

The same applies to the ordering process. The information is already contained in the barcode, so there is no need to manually enter data and calculate it.

This ensures accurate recordings every time and reduces the human error window.

Ease of use

Barcode technology has changed little since it was invented in the 1948. Labels can also be printed using simple, non-specialized equipment. The scanner works the same as before. We all know the basics of working with and scanning barcodes.

Business owners don’t have to worry about conducting complex training. Most people already know how to work, so it’s easier to get new employees up to speed quickly.

Shorter training times and simplified processes mean lower costs and fewer errors.

UPC for Amazon

According to the seller app, a UPC is required to conduct business on Amazon. Period. Amazon uses UPC codes as the distinctive product identifier that they require.

 It is necessary so that you can easily fill out the “Product ID” area when making a new listing to sell. 

Undoubtedly, there are other codes, like ASIN, GTIN, EAN, and others, but UPC is the most extensively used identification standard in use today.

UPC vs. SKU vs. EAN

All three numbers are interchangeable for each other as all three of them offer product identification numbers. However, there is a noticeable difference that helps to differentiate these three. Following is a significant difference between the three of them:

Contains numbersContains letters and numbersContains numbers
12 digits8-10 digits12 to 13 digits
External useInternal useExternal use
Used in US and CanadaUsed in US and EuropeUsed for European Countries


When you purchase a product at the store, you are given a barcode that is encoded with a unique product identifier.

 This is called a UPC code. This code is used by retailers to identify the product. 

This code is usually printed on the side of the product and can be scanned at the checkout so that the retailer can keep track of the product. 

The UPC code is also used by distributors to track the product. This code can be found on the side of the product or on the packaging.

Don’t know how to access your Product UPC? Apimio is a PIM service provider which can update such product feeds and stock automatically. 

Create an account on Apimio, to check out how you can boost your sales and visibility through product information management automation!

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