Devote Yourself to creating something that gives you purpose . . .

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

Tuesdays with Morrie, author Mitch Albom

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SKU, UPC, GTIN, UCC and GS1 US - Nothing but Acronyms?

Like everything else in business, small business owners have many opportunities to learn. Today was one of those days.   Based on where my business is heading I have arrived at the time when I needed to investigate getting product identification codes. This allows me to break into the major retail markets and advance my business from an independent retailer to one that can leverage their sales by association with national retail stores. Exciting, yes, scary of course! Here's what I learned. Initially I thought I needed SKU's or stock-keeping units. Each product revision whether it is fabric covering, color, or size constitutes the need for a unique code. After searching Google, I quickly learned that I didn't need SKU’s; I needed UPC or Uniform Product Codes which are made up of twelve digits which are called GTIN or Global Trade Item Numbers.

The first 9 digits of this code, for the first 100 codes will contain the same number which is assigned through a membership certificate issued by the UCC (Uniform Code Council) or GS1 US as they are called today. You must first fill out an application and pay the associated fees to acquire your UPC numbers. This generally takes 1 business day, and the membership kit can be expedited if you are in a hurry. Fees are based on your annual gross revenue (sales) figures as well as the number of individual SKU’s that you require. The SKU is actually the tenth and eleventh digit of the total GTIN identification. Regardless of whether you need 1 or 100, the fees are the same, but once you’ve crossed the 100 code requirement fees will increase because you will be assigned a new nine digit identifier.

There is only one website where you can acquire a membership certificate that assigns your unique number and that is Once your fees are calculated you will see how much your initial cost will be. You will also be informed of your annual renewal fee. It will be significantly less than your initial fee, unless your requirements change.

If you are in need of UPC codes, the application process is easy, but plan ahead, the minimum fee you can expect to pay is $760. Use this quoted cost with caution, like anything else fees increase so the only way to truly know your cost is to fill out an application. The resource information I read indicated $500. This was published in 2007.

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