Barcode Standards: What, How and Why 

barcode compliance

Barcodes are used in every industry. They work because they comply with certain universally accepted standards. Imagine a world where a particular type of barcode can be decoded only by certain barcode scanners or companies start applying their unique standards. It would be chaos and everyone will stop using this immensely cheap and useful piece of technology. This is why barcode standards exist – to create a harmonious tracking system that works everywhere in the world. 

What Is A Barcode?

A barcode looks like a string of parallel lines of various widths but essentially, it is a way to pack in certain data that can be read and identified with the help of a barcode scanner. A patent for the first barcode concept was filed in 1949 and the technology has been consistently evolving since then. 

There are one-dimensional barcodes and two-dimensional barcodes. 2D barcodes (QR codes) can pack in much more data inside. For instance, you can pack in up to 4,000 text characters or 7,000 digits in a QR code. There is no other technology that is as cheap and as versatile. 

A variety of barcode symbologies are in use today. Some of the common examples include:

  • Uniform product code – widely used across retail stores
  • POSTNET – used by US Mail service
  • Bookland — used for ISBN numbers
  • PDF 417 – used by airlines for boarding passes
  • Data Matrix — widely used in the healthcare and electronics industry
  • QR codes – a two-dimensional barcode that can be read by smartphones

Barcodes are widely used as these are inexpensive to design and allow for more accurate inventory control. These also help in minimising human error. Due to their ubiquity and thanks to the agreed-upon standards, barcodes are widely used for maintaining the authenticity of supply chains across the globe in addition to being used in retail chains stores and other places.

barcode compliance

Barcode Standards

A variety of barcode standards exist which are typically based on the intended use. A standard defines the printed symbol and how it is going to be decoded by the barcode scanner. 

Standards are usually set by multiple entities. It is important to understand that barcode symbology and barcode standards are two different things. A barcode standard defines a particular use of the barcode symbology. Here is a list of some of the major barcode standards along with their intended use:

  • Australia Postal Code
  • GTIN — global trade identification
  • ISBN, ISSN & Bookland — books and periodicals
  • SISS — serial numbers for serial publications
  • USPS special services
  • USPS intelligent mail
  • GTIN – 12
  • GS1
  • EAN-13
  • EAN-8
  • PDF-417
  • QR Code

Benefits of Barcode Compliance

Maintaining supply chain integrity is tough and one of the ways it is ensured is through barcode compliance. Everyone in the supply chain should know what barcode scanners and standards to use in order to decode the information stored in a barcode. In a supply chain, a variety of barcode systems might be used and this is why standard compliance is necessary. Here are some of the main reasons for ensuring barcode compliance:

  • Ensures accuracy: When everyone in the supply chain complies with the same standard, it ensures data accuracy.
  • Ensures safety: Compliance ensures that the right parts end up with the right recipient.
  • Saves time: Global supply chains cannot function without maintaining barcode compliance.
  • Proper tracking: Compliance ensures proper tracking of parts and also helps in fast distinguishing of parts.
  • Ensures efficient inventory management  


Barcodes have been in use for several decades. These were first invented to reduce the time taken during the checkout process in a retail store. Over the decades, the use of barcodes has been integrated into various industries across the globe. A variety of barcode standards are used in various industries. Maintaining barcode standard compliance is necessary to ensure accuracy, safety and efficiency.

ASP Microcomputers are the market leader when it comes to the development of customised and packaged solutions. This includes Inventory Management, Portable Barcode Readers, Supply Chain Management, Time and Attendance and Asset Tracking to name but a few.

ASP Microcomputers is here to help you run your operations in a smooth and convenient manner by providing you with the right equipment for your company needs. Contact us so we can sit down and discuss your goals, needs, and business structure. Armed with this information, we can help determine exactly what equipment you need to achieve success.

Please call us today on 03 9578 7600 or 1800 061 642 or leave an inquiry on our contact page.