What’s the EAN code?

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The EAN code is a 13-digit bar code used internationally to identify each product in an eCommerce store. While it was originally only used in Europe, it’s now used in all countries around the world, except for the USA and Canada where the 12-digit UPC is used. The EAN code allows you to obtain valuable information about your own products and those of your competition quickly and easily. With this, you can optimise your stock management or improve your competitiveness, for example. To do so, you can use tools to monitor product information that are capable of automatically tracking items using their EAN code. As a starting point, in this post, we’ll explain how this code works and what information it includes, which we always recommend applying to your product catalogue.

This type of barcode aims to give each product a unique identity using different numerical values. The configuration of the bars, with their different thicknesses and spacings, match the numbers in the code underneath. But what does each of these numbers stand for? 


Information contained in the EAN code 

The EAN code can be divided into four blocks of numbers where each one plays a specific function in identifying the product. 

  1. Country code for the vendor’s country of origin. Composed of two or three digits. 
  2. Manufacturer code for the company or brand that sells the product. Composed of four or five digits, which are assigned by the AECOC (Spanish Association of Commercial Coding). 
  3. Specific product code. This includes information about the model, dimensions, and any other distinctive features of the item. It completes the first 12 digits. 
  4. Check digit. This is a verification number to ensure that this is the correct product.
EAN code

For this to function properly, companies must adapt to the established international standards and comply with the codes already assigned to each country to identify their eCommerce businesses. To serve as an example, in the following table, you can see the codes that have been set for the countries with the highest GDPs in the European Union.

Country 

Germany

France 

Italy 

Spain 

The Netherlands 

Poland 

Code 

400–440

300–379 

800–839 

840–849 

870–879 

590 

On some products, you can find a version of the EAN code with only eight digits. This fulfils the same function but has been simplified for use on small or individually-packaged items, such as sweets or tobacco products. In this case, the manufacturer and product information have been condensed into four digits, respecting the corresponding country code.

How to get an EAN code? 

If the product you’re selling in your eCommerce store comes from an external brand, the manufacturer or supplier will already have included the EAN code on the packaging. If, on the other hand, you’re the manufacturer of your products and don’t depend on third parties, you’ll need to request your barcodes to identify each item. This is even more important if one of your sales channels is Amazon or another marketplace, where all products must carry the EAN code to be marketed. 

You can request EAN codes online from any company that complies with the GS1 standards, which are the internationally applicable regulations. After processing your request, you’ll receive the barcodes by email in JPEG, TIFF, and EPS format so that you can manipulate and insert them onto the packaging or tag included with each of your products. 

As a whole, the use of EAN codes facilitates the selling and distribution of eCommerce products and reduces the margin of error. In addition, the automatic monitoring of both your own products as well as those of your main competitors using the EAN code simplifies and optimises the decision-making process, making it easier for companies to adapt to the constant changes in the market. These tracking functions can be integrated into global eCommerce monitoring software, like the one from Minderest, where you can see at a glance all of the information that interests you. 

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Angela de la Vieja
Content Manager
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