Deutsch: EAN (Europäische Artikelnummer) / Español: EAN (Número de Artículo Europeo) / Português: EAN (Número Europeu do Artigo) / Français: EAN (Numéro d'Article Européen) / Italiano: EAN (Numero di Articolo Europeo)

In the context of quality management, EAN stands for European Article Number, now globally known as the International Article Number. It is a standard barcode used worldwide for the identification of products in the retail industry. The EAN barcode system is crucial for quality management in supply chains, ensuring accurate tracking and management of products from production through to sale.

General Description

The EAN barcode system is designed to help retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers manage their inventory more efficiently, ensuring that the right products are available at the right time. It consists of a series of bars of varying widths that represent a unique numeric code, typically containing 13 digits. This code includes information about the product's country of origin, manufacturer, and a specific product number, making each product distinguishable from another.

Application Areas

  • Retail and Inventory Management: The primary application of EAN codes is in retail, where they are used for inventory management, pricing, and checkout processes.
  • Supply Chain Management: In supply chains, EAN codes facilitate the tracking and tracing of products, helping to manage logistics and distribution.
  • Quality Control: EAN codes support quality control by enabling the identification and recall of defective or unsafe products quickly.
  • Data Analysis and Forecasting: The use of EAN codes allows for the collection of sales data, aiding in market analysis and demand forecasting.


While EAN codes are instrumental in product management, their misuse or mismanagement can lead to several risks, including:

  • Data Inaccuracy: Incorrectly assigned or scanned EAN codes can lead to inventory discrepancies, affecting stock levels and sales data.
  • Counterfeiting: The replication of EAN codes on counterfeit products can lead to quality control issues and brand reputation damage.
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: Mismanagement of EAN codes can result in supply chain inefficiencies, such as incorrect product shipments or delays.


Effective strategies to mitigate these risks involve:

  • Regular Audits and Validation: Implementing checks to ensure EAN codes are correctly assigned and used.
  • Security Measures: Adopting security features to prevent the counterfeiting of EAN codes.
  • Training and Awareness: Educating staff on the importance of accurate EAN code management and the potential consequences of errors.

History and Legal Basics

The EAN system was introduced in the 1970s as a way to standardize product identification within the retail industry. It has since become a global standard managed by GS1, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards for supply chains. Compliance with these standards is essential for businesses operating in international markets.

Examples of Sentences

  • "The EAN code on the product package enables retailers to manage their inventory efficiently and process customer transactions quickly."
  • "Quality management systems incorporate EAN codes to track product quality and facilitate recalls if necessary."

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • International Article Number (IAN)
  • Barcode
  • UPC (Universal Product Code)


EAN codes play a critical role in quality management within the retail and supply chain sectors. They provide a standardized method for product identification, facilitating efficient inventory management, quality control, and supply chain logistics. Proper management of EAN codes is essential for maintaining product quality, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction.


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