What are Serialised Labels? Your Essential Guide

Serialized labels

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Serialised labels are an umbrella term that describes labels that provide each item with a distinct identity by using unique sequences of numbers (serial numbers), barcodes, or QR codes.  

Unlike standard labels that only provide product type or category information, serialised labels offer a distinct identity to each item, allowing for detailed tracking and management at the individual level. This unique identification is crucial for operations such as inventory management, quality control, and supply chain logistics, offering unparalleled precision in tracking the movement and history of each item.

In this article, we will explore the nuances of serialised labels. We will examine how serialised labels diverge from their standard counterparts, identify the most effective barcodes for serialisation, and discuss their applications and implementation strategies. 

To understand labelling and its significance across various industries, explore our article, What is Labelling?

How are Serialised Labels Different from Standard Labels?

Five differences between serialised labels and standard labels

Serialised labels and standard labels serve different purposes in product labelling, tracking, and management. Understanding these differences is crucial for businesses to implement the most effective labelling strategy for their needs. 

Here’s a detailed comparison of standard labels and serialised labels:

Unique Identification vs. General Information

  • Serialised Labels: Each label carries a unique identifier, such as a serial number, barcode, or QR code, distinguishing one item from another. This unique identification allows for tracking individual items through their entire lifecycle, from production to end-user. Refer to our QR Code vs Barcode article to compare the two technologies.  
  • Standard Labels: Typically provide general information about the product, such as the product name, type, category, manufacturer, and sometimes batch numbers. However, they do not offer a unique identifier for each item, making individual tracking impossible.

Tracking and Traceability

  • Serialised Labels: Enable detailed tracking and traceability of each product. Businesses can monitor an item’s exact location, status, and history, which is essential for quality control, warranty management, and recall effectiveness.
  • Standard Labels: Offer limited tracking capabilities, primarily at the batch or product type levels. This makes it challenging to trace individual items, especially during a recall or when assessing product warranties.

Inventory Management

  • Serialised Labels: Facilitate precise inventory management by letting companies know the exact count and specifics of items in stock. This precision helps in reducing overstocking or stockouts and improves order fulfilment accuracy.
  • Standard Labels: Provide a broader overview of inventory, which can lead to less accurate stock levels and difficulties in managing specific item variations, especially in diverse inventories.

Beyond labels, RFID tags are revolutionising inventory management with their advanced tracking capabilities. Whether you’re seeking enhanced solutions or are keen to explore the benefits of RFID technology for inventory control, our insightful article, RFID Tags for Inventory Management, is a valuable resource.

Counterfeit Protection

  • Serialised Labels: Offer a robust mechanism against counterfeiting. The unique identifiers make verifying the authenticity of products easier, protecting both the brand and the consumer.
  • Standard Labels: The lack of detailed security features of serialised labels makes products more susceptible to counterfeiting and fraud.

For a comprehensive exploration of secure labelling and to discover the entire spectrum of tamper-evident solutions, refer to our articles, What Are Tamper-Proof Labels? And What Are Security Labels? 

Regulatory Compliance

  • Serialised Labels: Many industries, especially pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and luxury goods, require serialisation for compliance with regulatory standards. Serialised labels ensure that products meet these stringent tracking and reporting requirements.
  • Standard Labels: These do not meet the regulatory compliance requirements for tracking and traceability in specific industries, potentially exposing businesses to legal and financial risks.

As a leading provider of labelling solutions, Triton Store excels in delivering a comprehensive suite of serialised label products. Our extensive selection includes high-quality thermal transfer ribbons, an array of thermal labels designed for various applications, durable thermal carton labels, custom thermal carcass tags for the meat industry, food-safe thermal inserts, high-resolution receipt rolls, and customised labels for shipping and freight needs. 

Triton Store is your go-to source for all your specialised labelling requirements, ensuring quality, durability, and compliance with industry standards.

What Barcodes Can be Used for Label Serialisation?

Four types of barcodes commonly used for label serialisation

When it comes to labelling serialisation, the choice of barcode plays a crucial role in the efficiency and effectiveness of tracking and managing products. However, it’s important to note that not every barcode format is conducive to the serialisation of labels. 

This limitation arises because certain types of barcodes lack the necessary data capacity or structural flexibility to encode unique identifiers for each item effectively. Serialisation demands the capability to hold extensive, unique information to ensure each product can be individually tracked and managed throughout its lifecycle.

Here’s an overview of the types of barcodes commonly used for label serialisation:

  • Code 39: This 1D barcode format encodes alphanumeric data (0-9, A-Z, and some special characters). It’s widely used in manufacturing and shipping to ensure product uniqueness and traceability.
  • Code 128: Another 1D barcode, Code 128 can encode an extensive range of characters (up to 255), making it suitable for logistics and retail by offering versatility in tracking.
  • QR Code: It is a 2D barcode recognisable by its black and white squares. QR codes can store URLs and other data, readable by smartphones and 2D scanners, facilitating easy access to product information.
  • Data Matrix: This 2D barcode type can encode a lot of information in a compact area, which is ideal for inventory management and item tracking in various industries.

Where are Serialised Labels Used?

Seven key areas where serialised labels are used

Serialised labels are utilised across various industries and applications, providing critical benefits in tracking, authenticity verification, and inventory management. Their unique ability to assign a distinct identity to each item makes them invaluable for ensuring product traceability, enhancing customer engagement, and complying with regulatory requirements. 

Here are some key areas where serialised labels are extensively used:

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

In the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, serialised labels are crucial for tracking medication and medical devices from production to patient. They ensure drug safety, combat counterfeit products, and facilitate recalls when necessary. 

Serialisation also supports compliance with global regulatory standards, such as the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) in the United States.

Food and Beverage

The food and beverage sector employs serialised labels to enhance supply chain visibility and food safety. They enable traceability from farm to table, helping to quickly identify and isolate products in the event of a contamination issue. This traceability is essential for meeting safety standards and consumer demands for transparency.


In the electronics industry, serialised labels help manage the complex supply chains of components and finished products. They are used for inventory management, theft prevention, and warranty verification, ensuring that each item can be accurately tracked through its lifecycle.


The automotive sector relies on serialised labels for parts tracking and management. Serialisation facilitates the assembly process, quality control, and recall management. It ensures that specific parts can be traced back to their origin, improving safety and compliance.

Luxury Goods

For luxury goods like high-end fashion, jewellery, and accessories, serialised labels play a key role in authenticity verification and anti-counterfeiting efforts. They provide a secure method to prove the genuineness of products, enhancing brand protection and consumer trust.

Aerospace and Defense

In aerospace and defence, serialised labels are critical for tracking components and equipment, ensuring that every item can be accounted for. This level of traceability is vital for maintenance, safety, and compliance with stringent industry regulations.

Logistics and Shipping

Serialised labels streamline logistics and shipping processes by enabling the precise tracking of packages and containers. They improve operational efficiency, reduce errors, and enhance customer satisfaction by providing accurate delivery information.

For professionals in the logistics and shipping sector seeking to enhance their operations, our series of detailed guides offers essential insights into the world of shipping labels. 

  • What Is a Shipping Label?: Delve into the fundamentals of shipping labels, uncovering their purpose, key components, and pivotal role in the logistics ecosystem.
  • How To Make Shipping Labels?: Follow our step-by-step guide to crafting shipping labels efficiently, with practical advice for manual and automated creation methods.
  • How To Print Shipping Labels?: Discover the best practices for printing shipping labels, including recommendations on equipment and tips to ensure compliance with carrier standards.
  • Do Shipping Labels Expire?: Learn about the lifespan of shipping labels, factors influencing their validity, and how to prevent potential delays in your shipments.
  • What Is an International Shipping Label?: Explore the intricacies of international shipping labels, including the necessary customs details and additional requirements for hassle-free global transit.
  • Shipping Label Size: Gain insights into the standard dimensions for shipping labels, select the appropriate size for your packages, and understand the significance of label size for effective scanning and delivery.


In retail, serialised labels enhance inventory management, reduce shrinkage, and improve the customer experience. They allow detailed product information and history to be easily accessed, supporting in-store and online shopping experiences.

Make Label Serialisation Easy With BarTender Software!

Make label serialisation easy with BarTender software

In today’s technology-driven environment, manually serialising labels is inefficient and prone to errors. Leveraging advanced software solutions is essential for enhancing operational efficiency and accuracy in label serialisation. A standout option for tackling these challenges is Seagull Scientific’s BarTender Software, a comprehensive tool designed to streamline the creation and management of serialised labels.

BarTender simplifies the design and printing of labels by allowing users to incorporate images, texts, barcodes, or RFID tags into their designs. Its strength lies in its ability to automate the labelling process, fetching and printing data directly from customer databases. 

This automation is particularly effective when integrated with major business systems like SAP and Oracle, enabling the software to trigger print jobs based on specific events such as new orders or database updates. This ensures that labelling is accurate and timely, reducing the likelihood of human error and increasing operational efficiency.

BarTender is user-friendly and equipped with intuitive design tools that eliminate the need for extensive programming knowledge. It supports over 400 pre-formatted, ready-to-use barcode components and 105 symbologies, catering to industry standards. The software’s versatility is further enhanced by its extensive template library and the ability to connect to various data sources, such as databases and CSV files, along with advanced date/time serialisation features.

To explore BarTender’s comprehensive features, refer to our article, What is BarTender?

At Triton Store, we offer all four editions of BarTender software: Starter Edition, Professional Edition, Automation Edition and Enterprise Edition, alongside BarTender Cloud for remote label printing and management.

Curious about the differences between BarTender Cloud and its on-premise counterparts? Our article BarTender Cloud vs BarTender Software provides detailed insights to help you make an informed choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Serialised Labels be Used on All Types of Products?

Serialised labels are versatile and can be applied to various products across various industries. However, the feasibility and method of application may vary depending on the product’s material, size, and packaging. 

How do Serialised Labels Impact Consumer Privacy?

Serialised labels do not impact consumer privacy. They are designed to track products, not consumers.

How do Businesses Implement Serialised Labelling Systems?

Implementing a serialised labelling system involves selecting appropriate barcode types, integrating scanning and tracking technology into the supply chain, and ensuring inventory and management software compatibility. It often requires collaboration with specialised labelling solutions providers.

Can Serialised Labels be Counterfeited?

Yes, serialised labels can be counterfeited, but serialisation makes counterfeiting significantly more challenging. The unique identifiers on serialised labels require counterfeiters to replicate the physical label and the specific, traceable data it contains, increasing the complexity and reducing the likelihood of successful counterfeiting.

How do Serialised Labels Interact With Consumer-Facing Technologies?

Serialised labels can be integrated with consumer-facing technologies, such as smartphone QR code scanning. It is used to provide additional product information, verify authenticity, or register products for warranty directly by the consumer.


Serialised labels are pivotal in inventory management, product tracking, and supply chain efficiency. By assigning unique identifiers to each item, serialised labels transcend traditional labelling methods, offering unparalleled precision in tracking the lifecycle of products. 

This unique capability facilitates enhanced inventory control, efficient recall processes, and robust anti-counterfeiting measures, proving indispensable across many industries, including healthcare, food and beverage, electronics, automotive, and more. The adoption of serialised labels, coupled with the integration of advanced technologies such as BarTender Software, streamlines the creation and management of these labels, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in operations.

Embracing serialised labels is not merely a step towards operational optimisation; it’s a leap towards future-proofing businesses against the challenges of an ever-evolving marketplace. As we move forward, the importance of serialised labels in achieving transparency, security, and efficiency in product management will only continue to grow, underscoring their critical role in the modern business ecosystem. 

We hope this article was helpful. 

Thanks for reading! 

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