Decoding Amazon UPC Barcodes for Sellers
Amazon has been on a continuous cleansing binge to eradicate anything toxic from its systems. Amazon pursues all avenues to clear out noxious counterfeiters and leaves no stone unturned. We’ve witnessed the purge of fakery over the last couple of years that included seemingly benign Amazon UPC Barcodes. Last year Amazon updated its UPC policy which left many Sellers feeling vulnerable and at risk since they most likely bought fake or made up UPC codes from Ebay and other unreputable websites claiming to sell authentic UPC Codes.
Let’s dive into the various different product IDs that Amazon allows sellers to enter.
ASIN, GCID, GTIN, Oh My
Every Seller that sets up a unique product listing quickly faces the Product ID options on the first tab called Vital Info:
The Product ID field is absolutely required when listing a new product. It’s better if you know which of the Product IDs you intend to use prior to start with a new product listing. If you’re adding your offer to an existing listing, you don’t have to worry about the Product ID because it was established when the original listing was created.
Typically Sellers select in the UPC (Universal Product Code), or EAN (European Article Number) because they are the most familiar. Both UPCs and EANs are assigned numbers made into barcodes that are used in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and in other countries for tracking trade items in stores.
The Amazon Standard Identification Number is a 10-character alphanumeric unique catalog number assigned by Amazon, but isn’t generated until you’ve actually listed your product already. Child variations will have their own unique ASIN too. Unless you’re going to offer your product as both FBA and FBM (the ASIN is the same for both) you won’t use this as your initial Product ID. Or if you’re a non-private label Seller and going to sell a product already in the Amazon catalog. This is how Amazon’s system keeps it straight when multiple Sellers are listing offers for the same product.
The Global Catalog Identifier is a number that Amazon gives your product to show that it’s your brand. If you apply for Brand Registry, Amazon will assign that number to your products. You can only use this ID when adding a new product that is part of your approved registered Brand list. If you are part of Amazon’s Brand Registry Program then you will have to rent UPC Codes directly from GS1 as Amazon does cross checking of UPC codes against the GS1 database for Brand Registered Sellers. Unfortunately renting from GS1 can cost a lot more than us and also comes with annual renewal fees, however there’s no other way around this.
The Global Trade Item Number is the newest name for the family of product codes. GTIN-12 represents a UPC Code, GTIN-13 represents an EAN Code, GTIN-14 represents a Shipping Container Code. GS1 is making a push to make these newest names the standard. GTINs are used as an identifier for trade items to look up product information in a database via a barcode scanner. GTIN barcodes scanned lookup information in each retailers individual databases. This information can be who the GTIN belongs to, such as a retailer, manufacturer, collector, researcher or other entity. GTINs can be used to unambiguously identify trade items online, for example in catalogues, in electronic messages such as purchase orders and invoices. GTINs are a part of codes you might use, such as UPCs or EANs.
Since the most common GTIN selected by Sellers are Amazon UPC Barcodes, let’s talk about them and add clarity to their importance. Or, more specifically, their sourcing importance.
Previously Amazon did not do even basic verification on UPC Codes entered into Amazon. They would accept any 12 digit number as long as it had a correct check digit. GS1 Prefixes are what can be made into UPC Codes. Only prefixes which start with 000 - 019, 030 - 039, and most commonly 060 - 099 can be used. UPC Codes omit the first zero of a GS1 Prefix as this is a country code for the United States and Canada, this means that actual authentic UPC barcode numbers would start with 0,1,3,6,7,8, & 9. UPC numbers starting with anything else are actually not UPC numbers and are fraudulent. Since the public at large did not know this and Amazon’s system didn’t verify this, many sellers purchased fake numbers from eBay and other websites. They used these fake UPC numbers on Amazon and when Amazon updated their database, their products were purged.
Fraudulent resellers figured out that all they had to do was sell fake numbers beginning with what appears to be legitimate UPC codes. This is why it’s important to know who you are buying from and that they are a trusted source for barcodes. Here is an article dedicated to helping sellers figure out if they are buying from a reputable company.
If after all of this, you’ve determined that you do need UPC Codes from a reputable source then look no further. We’re the industry leader in UPC Codes for Amazon!