How do I create my own barcoded SKU labels?

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. Depending on your volume and comfort level there are 2 easy ways to generate these labels. Option 1 involves using Avery's online tool and Option 2 involves downloading a 'barcode font' on your computer and generating the labels with Microsoft Word. As a third option, Avery does offer a software package to download to your computer to design and print the labels. This option is real similar in function to Option 1 so I will not go into detail on this option.

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.

Option 1: Printing using Avery's Designing & Print Online

Step 1: Pick your label

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 Avery label that you want to use on your products and purchase those labels.

Step 2: Enter SKU data into label template

Now that you have a label format picked out it is time to enter the SKU data into the label and print out your labels!

For this example, I am going to use the common Avery label #5160 and use Avery's Design & Print Online option that is available on their template site. I entered my label number into the tool and you should see something similar to the following:

As you can see (in the top right corner) I am using the #5160 label and I am just going to use the default blank design. Click the Next button and you will be presented with the Customize screen:

Avery has done a good job of making this tool pretty easy to use and they have plenty of help options so I am not going to go into too much detail here but the short and sweet of it is you will use the Add Text Box feature as well as the QR and Barcodes feature to design your label.  Here is my completed label:

As you can see it is a pretty simple design a text box to type in the description (optional) and then I used the Barcode feature to type in and create the barcode.

Note: For advanced users you can use Avery's 'Mail Merge' feature to pull in large amounts of different SKUs to auto generate the barcodes.

Once you have a design you like click 'Preview & Print' and then make sure everything looks correct. Load your labels into your printer and print them or choose to let Avery print them and mail them to you.

Option 2: Print using a Barcode Font

Step 1: Download the free Code 39 Barcode Font

 If you visit this link you will see the following screen:

Click the "Download the Code 39 truetype barcode font" button. This will download a font file directly to your computer. Once it is downloaded the process can differ slightly depending on what version of Operating System you are using on your PC or Mac. However, in most cases you should just be able to Double Left Click on the fre3of9x.ttf file and your computer should install it without an issue.

Step 2: Pick your label

Now that you have the Code 39 Barcode Font on your PC or Mac the next step is to decide on a physical label and create a template for the printing of your SKU labels. I typically recommend labels from Avery. 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. The reason I recommend Avery is because if you visit their website they have ready to go templates for almost every one of their labels which will make the next steps easier. 

Step 3: Enter SKU data into label template

Now that you have a label format picked out it is time to enter the SKU data into the label and print out your labels!

Follow the instructions on Avery's site to download and install the template into Microsoft Word. Once you have the template open in word type in the SKU data into the template.

See below:

Note: Any text that you want to become a barcode must be begin AND end with an asterisk or it will not be able to be read by a scanner. 

Now that you have the text entered into the template you just highlight the text that you want to become the barcode and then change the font to the Code 39 font.

Note: For advanced users you can use Word's 'Mail Merge' feature to pull in large amounts of different SKUs to auto generate the barcodes.

Once completed you should have a barcode similar to this:

 Now just print the labels on the label stock.

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.

 

Have more questions? Submit a request

7 Comments

  • 0
    Avatar
    Stephen

    Thanks for the information. 

     

    First Question:  Because I live and work in Bali Indonesia we don't have access to Avery labels.  I have had to create my own templates.  I created 2 sizes - small and large.  When I used my barcode scanner app on my iphone I discovered that the smaller size would not scan.  The larger template which creates a bigger barcode label is able to be scanned.  Both tests were printed from the same printer.  Why would the smaller barcode label not scan?  Is that a printer issue?

     

    Second question:  Do you know which barcode printer is compatible with a Macbook Pro OS X Yosemite 10.10.4

     

    Third question:  Can EFS scan from a barcode that is printed on regular paper enclosed in a poly bag?

     

    thank you

  • 0
    Avatar
    Dev Team

    Hello Stephen,

    Answer 1: It could potentially be a printer issue. The printer may not be accurate enough printing a small barcode that when scanned the scanner (or your phone) can't see the difference between the thickness of the lines/whitespace of the barcode. However, this issue could also be from what process you used in your software when you generated the smaller barcode. If you stretch or shrink the barcode image you could potentially change the thickness of the lines/whitespace and make the barcode unreadable to any scanners.

     

    Answer 2: Depends on what you are referring to when you say 'barcode printer' In this guide I am talking about using label stock in a standard 8.5"x11" desktop printer. Which there are many available for a Mac. If you are referring to a smaller printer that is meant to print labels on a roll, then any printer that supports ZPL will work as Macs have ZPL language driver built in.  So any Zebra printer like these would work as well as many, many third party printers support ZPL language.

     

    Answer 3: Unfortunately, that would be very difficult for us as the poly bag could cause issues reading the barcode and take a significate more effort on the part of the operations staff to smooth out the poly bag to try to get a good scan through the bag. So that is why we require the barcode to be on the outside of the bag.

    I hope this helps!

  • 0
    Avatar
    Stephen

    yes, that really helps. thank you for the reference to zebra products.

    I have been successful at creating Option 1 - now to find the labels.  Apli is the supplier here.  Your choice of 5160 (1 x 2-5/8) from Avery did fit my barcode that I created in Avery.  Would a Size: 64.6 x 33.8mm be a good compromise? It's 3 across and 8 down (2 less down than avery).

    I haven't been able to work out option 2 because I can't find the font called code 39.  I downloaded it and clicked on fre3of9x.ttf which gave me a font book.  However, I seem to find the code 39.  Am I missing something?

    Appreciate you support.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Dev Team

    If you have access to a label from a different manufacturer that is 64.6 x 33.8mm and is 3 across and 8 down then I would try the Avery template  #5363 as that would be the closest match to that and it may just work.

     

    As far as installing the font here is a link to an article that shows how to install fonts on various operating systems, once you have it installed you should be able to see it in your Font Book on the Mac under 'New' as seen below:

  • 0
    Avatar
    Stephen

    Excellent support.  Thank you for the installation link for the font and where to locate it.

    At the moment, we do have in stock and always available is a
    Size: 38 x 21.2mm label.  Would you know how this one would convert in Avery labels. I like to see if I can create it and test it with my iphone scan app.

    (In fact, I could also get a QR on that size as well as a barcode.  Is EFS accepting QR?  That might be an alternative to this label size and my printing issues.)

    Again, thanks for your help.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Dev Team

    Hello Stephen,

    We do support QR codes. As far as the other label size goes.  I was unable to find a label from Avery that matched that size.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Stephen

    Thanks for checking.  Appreciate your help.

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Powered by Zendesk