Creating barcode SKU labels
Since our announcement went out with the new Receiving Guide, requiring a SKU barcode on every product, there have been a lot of questions from our clients on how to barcode their SKUs themselves. For a lot of our clients that don't use a commercial manufacturer, this requirement could be concerning. This guide is meant to help the DIYer to print SKU label right at home and apply them to the product before sending it to us.
NOTE: Please see the "Verification of Labels" section at the end of this document before placing the printed labels on your product and sending them to us.
Pick your label Stock
These are available at almost every office supply store and a lot of other stores that carry office supplies and they come in a vast assortment of size / shape that you can pick the right one for your product. They even have an option where you design the label on their website and they will print and mail the labels to you. It's a great option if you don't have a printer or don't want to deal with ink and label stock for the printer.
For the purpose of this guide though the steps are the same whether you are having Avery print the labels and mail them to you or if you are printing them yourself. So, either visit a local store or browse around online and determine the label stock that you want to use on your products and purchase those labels.
Unfortunately, the previously suggested Avery program has been producing some unusable barcodes for clients, as of late, and the barcodes fonts can sometimes be finicky as well.
We currently suggest the use of the following tool to generate your barcode formats, as it will generate them in any of the formats we list as supported in our Receiving Guide.
Choose your selected encoding format, such as Code-128, Code39, various 2d/QR codes, or any other in the list provided in the Receiving Guide.
Enter your data into the "Data" box.
Select "Refresh" if the label preview does not automatically update.
Download the resulting barcode. It will be an image format (gif by default), which can be converted into other image formats (such as png, jpeg, etc.) if desired.
At this point, you can insert the images into a Word Document, spreadsheet, etc. and arrange them as needed to fit your intended print output.
It is entirely probable that some clients will already have a barcode generator or system of preference. Provided it can use the formats listed in the Receiving Guide, this should be fine, but please consider testing them and/or submitting examples for testing, so we can ensure their viability.
Verification of Labels
Now that you have your SKU labels printed we need to verify that the barcodes can be read by our scanners. Many things can affect the readability of barcodes including the size of the Font used and the quality of the printer. Our scanners here use 2D technology to decode both the 1D & 2D barcodes similar to many smartphone apps. So that is the quickest and easiest way to verify that your barcodes are readable. Many people already have an app on their smartphone that can read/scan barcodes (if you don't head to your phone's app store and search for 'barcode' you should have many choices to choose from). Open up that app and then point it at your newly printed barcodes if the app can decode the barcode then you should be just fine to label your product and send it to us.