Universal Product Codes (UPC)

You need a standard product code if you plan to sell a new product at major retailers (online and retail). Also, standard product codes enable easier product identification and inventory management.

UPCs (universal product code) in America are managed by GS1 (Global Standards Organization). The minimum order is 10 UPC numbers, costing $250 up-front with a $50 annual renewal fee. Secondary sellers who have enormous piles of codes offer cheaper prices; however, these resold UPCs are not accepted by major retailers- therefore you will need a direct relationship with GS1 for serious product ventures.

Different regions and industries offer additional product code systems. Japan has JAN-13 and JAN-8 codes. Books have ISBNs (international standard book number).

Product Code Fact Sheet | Document by Made In Montana

UPC vs EAN Comparison | Article by NationwideBarcode


Users generally don't care about stickers on the packaging. But they care a lot about the stickers on the product. Some stickers are meant to stay on the product (ex. safety warnings). Some stickers are meant to be detached from the product (ex. protective film on screen of computer monitor).

When users remove a sticker, they want the process to be easy, but mostly they want minimal adhesive residue left on the product. Use vinyl-based stickers to minimize such residue.


Literature Mailer Boxes work well for shipping small to medium-sized products. They are a clean, simple, cost-effective internal container that have their own closure mechanism (folded tabs) and doubles as a convenient storage case for the end-user. Mailer boxes should generally be used as a secondary protection layer within a normal shipping container such as an envelope, box, or external sleeve.

If the package is too large to be cradled with one arm, put a handle on the package. So many excellent products suffer from excruciating customer frustration during its package transport process. Without a handle, the customer is forced to bend down and rest the package on the ground while they unlock and open doors, causing discomfort and risking serious back injury. Without a handle, the customer will precariously lower the package (risking a drop where the product breaks) and press their body against the package to keep it elevated against a wall (risking a catastrophic fall or direct drop on their feet). Without a handle, the 2-handed front carry blocks vision and increases the risk of tripping on an unseen object or miscalculated step. Good designers put a handle on the package.


Popular cushioning options include packing paper, air pillows, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts.

Packing paper can be stored and transported efficiently in its smooth compact form. It is durable, versatile, and provides non-trivial defense against cuts and penetration that may occur during shipping or opening. It must be scrunched before use to add cushioning properties. Small scale operations will have a good time with packing paper as it is usable without additional processing devices. Overall, packing paper is recommended.

Air pillows can be stored and transported efficiently in its thin deflated form. While not as durable as packing paper, they offer excellent impact resistance and expansion ratio. Air pillows must be inflated before use, which usually requires a separate device. Diverse inventory operations will have a good time with air pillows, as they can fill a large range of voids across varying combinations of item and box sizes. Overall, air pillows are recommended.

Bubble wrap comes pre-inflated, which eases use but reduces storage efficiency. It is also quite inefficient at filling large voids. It is usually taped to the product, offering moderate impact protection at its surface but allowing the product to shake within the package. It incurs more hassle because its efficient use requires covering and taping the product, instead of stuffing the container as with other cushioning materials. Overall, bubble wrap is recommended when used in conjunction with a complementary void filler for particularly fragile items.

Packing peanuts are a major hassle for merchants and customers. They scatter when the package is opened, wasting pick-up time. They cannot be flattened easily, adding to transport and disposal time. They are materially inefficient for filling voids of medium or larger size when compared to alternatives. They also reduce the eco-friendly value of your product. That said, packing peanuts offer reliable impact resistance and consistent void fill. Overall, packing peanuts are not recommended.