After you buy a barcode, the next steps are pretty simple. First, there are no formal comprehensive regional or world-wide database. Sites like www.upcdatainfo.com and www.upcdatabase.com are hobbyist sites that are really well done but contain a small fraction of barcodes and products.
The true registration process is less formal than what people anticipate and is strictly between you and your retailers. When people purchase EAN or UPC barcodes from us, we provide a transfer of ownership (and certificate of authenticity) for the single or block of barcodes. We also send along an excel spreadsheet containing all of the numbers to make it easier to track which barcode goes with each of your products.
Then, as you are about to launch a new product and sell it into stores, you assign one of the barcode numbers to the product and then convey the information about that product to your retailer. If you are selling products that have variations (size, design, style, quantity, etc.), you will need to assign a different barcode number to each one of these items.
The retailer then inputs this into their inventory management system which is tied to their electronic point of sale systems.
The way it works is:
1. You tell the retailer about the product that is going into their store (description, price, barcode number)
2. The retailer enters the information into their database along with the starting inventory and usually the quantity where they plan on reordering your item(s).
3. Then, they sell the item…customer picks up the item in the store, takes it to the check stand, the item is scanned and the ‘cash register’ sends a query to the database. The database sends the item and pricing information to the ‘cash register’. At the same time the ‘cash register’ tells the database to remove the items purchased from inventory
Every retailer from your local hardware store to Amazon has their own ‘closed’ system. Every retailer has their own system based on the inventory management and accounting systems that they use.
Between UPC numbers (US and Canada) and EAN numbers (Europe, Australia, South America, Africa), there is the potential to have 100 Billion different numbers that can be used for barcodes. (Not every series is used and some of the number series are reserved for internal use of coupons, but it’s still a massive number) Nobody wants to manage a database this large, so, everyone manages their own system that is relevant to their inventory.
There are some interlinking systems. Google Merchant, Amazon and a couple others that help populate smart-phone UPC/EAN barcode readers like Red Laser, Shop Savvy, etc.