Difference Between QR Code and UPC Barcode

You might have noticed black and white patterns on the back of products. The ones with vertical lines are traditional ones, known as UPC barcodes, but there are other new ones too. These black and white dotted or uniquely patterned codes are called QR codes. You might have also heard about a QR code and even scanned one with your smartphone. With this in mind, what are UPC barcodes and QR codes? Are they the same things? There are a few essential points that everyone should know.


What Is A Barcode?

First, let’s take a look at barcodes. You must have seen barcodes if you have ever been to a grocery store. A barcode is a 12-digit number that is unique to a particular product.  The 12-digit number is expressed in a series of parallel black lines of varying width that can be scanned and decrypted using a machine. It's also possible to enter the numbers at the bottom of the barcode manually and get the same information. They are usually printed on the back of the product's packaging.


What Is A QR Code?

A QR code is also known as a “Quick Response” code. In essence, a QR code is simply a website’s URL encrypted into the QR font.

With the rise of smartphones, QR codes have become more popular. Now you can scan barcodes using your smartphone and launch a website inside your mobile phone’s browser.


What Are The Differences Between Barcodes and QR Codes?

Now, as a seller, which code should you use? Understanding the differences between them will help you decide if you should use barcodes or QR codes?

The biggest difference is that UPC barcodes are used primarily for tracking inventory and that is why they are used by retailers around the world.

QR codes, on the other hand, are better used for marketing, since they can easily link to a specific page on a website using a mobile phone browser.

Both barcodes and QR codes are used throughout multiple industries today.


Barcodes and QR Codes: How Are They Generated?

Both barcodes and QR codes are generated in similar ways. A barcode is generated using a series of vertical bars that vary in thickness and distance between them. Beneath the vertical bars are numbers and/or letters that signify the product or item to which it is attached. Usually, the products in your inventory will all be affixed with a unique barcode.

QR codes are generated similarly. But instead of using bars, QR codes use small black boxes. These boxes vary in width and height. They also proceed both horizontally and vertically. Because a QR code is in two dimensions, more unique codes can be generated using QR codes than the barcodes.


Barcodes and QR Codes: How Do They Work?

Barcodes and QR codes work in similar ways. Both barcodes and QR codes are designed to be scanned by machines; however, it is easier to scan a barcode than a QR code because they only proceed in one dimension instead of two.

When a machine scans a barcode, it reads the space between the bars, measuring the bars before pulling up that specific product. In the QR codes, the machine reads the width and height of the squares to find the information about the product or service to which the QR code is attached. Some machines can read both barcodes and QR codes, but those machines are expensive than single-use machines.


What Are Common Applications of Barcodes and QR Codes?

There are several applications of QR codes and barcodes. Some of the most common applications of barcodes include:


  • Tracking inventory for businesses, including grocery stores
  • Tracking mail as it flows in and out of shipping centers
  • Scanning movie tickets and boarding passes for airplanes

There are several ways that QR codes are used as well. These include:


  • Unique QR codes can be generated to pull up account information
  • QR codes are commonly used to identify virtual menus

QR codes are becoming more common with the rise of smartphones.

If you are thinking about using barcodes or QR codes for your business, you need to find a trustable provider. Who can codes which work on different platforms and are approved by authorities.


Contact Buy a Barcode for Help with Barcodes!

If you are looking to buy barcodes for your business, we are here to help you. We are Buy a Barcode, and we can give barcodes for products that can work for your business on Amazon. We provide GS1 approved UPCs. So whether you need codes for inventory management or global Amazon selling, you can trust us. Contact us today to buy barcodes!

– Erik Quisling

Erik Quisling is the Founder and CEO of Buyabarcode.com. Started in 1999, Buyabarcode.com has been featured in both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and has helped more than 100,000 businesses bring their products to market with barcodes.
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