To create a product listing on Amazon, you must have a unique product identifier known as a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number).
GTINs make your products easy to find, buy, trace, and fulfill by providing a standardized digital language to communicate seamlessly across the supply chain.
Think of them like fingerprints for your products that gives retailers, marketplaces, and consumers confidence that they can trace products to their owners.
GTINs and UPC codes help standardize product identification for recalls, brand protection, and consumer safety and protect against bad actors.
“GS1 is globally recognized for issuing unique product identifiers and keeping a record for all licensed identifiers and their associated legal entities as a single source of truth.”Michelle Covey
Previously, sellers could obtain these numbers from many places, but the valid numbers are issued directly by GS1 and licensed to brand owners. Amazon considers GTINs obtained from elsewhere invalid, which means you cant list your product.
GS1 runs a database that is the single source of truth for licensed GTINs and the legal entities associated with them. Amazon will often check the database for the validity of GTINs/UPC codes provided for a listing.
But many Amazon sellers have a problem differentiating between a GTIN, a UPC code, EAN, and a barcode. They are often used interchangeably, but there is a small difference.
“If you are listing on Amazon and you’ve got your identifier from GS1, which is 12 digits, make sure you associate it with a UPC. If you have a 13 digit, it’s an EAN.” Michelle Covey
In this episode, Jason and Shannon interview Michelle Covey Vice President of Commercialization at GS1 US, about the importance of GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers), UPC Codes, EAN, and Amazon.
We also discuss some of the recent changes Amazon has made regarding UPC use, as well as hijacked UPCs and the right way to purchase a GS1 Prefix License.
GS1 US Response to Amazon Plans to Kill the Barcode and Replace It With Emerging Technologies
“At GS1 US we have been delivering unique product identification standards for 50 years, which has improved supply chain visibility and inventory accuracy for many of the world’s biggest brands and small businesses across industries. GS1 standards have guided companies on their digital transformation journey from the first brick-and-mortar barcode scan in 1974 to the more recent rise of omnichannel commerce.
Throughout this period, we have collaborated with industry leaders to automate their supply chains, ensure interoperability across trading partners and “innovate together” – including with one of our biggest members, Amazon.
Recently, Amazon and others began exploring emerging technologies like computer vision to augment product identification in their warehouses. At GS1 US, we support computer vision development and believe multi-modal identification and advanced technologies will complement existing barcoding standards, including the growing usage of 2D barcodes and RFID for product identification.
The barcode delivers essential product information for retailers and their consumers, and is scanned over six billion times a day. GS1 Standards will always remain a relevant and necessary part of retail operations.
We’re thrilled to have deep collaboration with members like Amazon, which currently sits on our Board of Governors, to drive supply chain and ecommerce innovation while also meeting the growing needs of today’s connected consumer. Our standards are constantly adapting to facilitate interoperability with emerging technology while ensuring precise identification is never lost.”
Supplemental Proof Points:
- References to GS1 requirements in Amazon’s Seller Central
- Listing requirements: Product IDs (GTINs): For most categories, you are required to provide a unique product identifier, known as a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), to create new listings.
- Valid UPCs: Amazon verifies the authenticity of product UPCs by checking the GS1 database. UPCs that do not match the information provided by GS1 will be considered invalid.
- Send to Amazon: 2D barcodes for box content information: For shipping, Amazon enables the use of 2D barcodes to provide product quantities for each box in your shipment.
Here’s the link to the article that this is in response to:
Some Additional Resources…
GS1 US: https://www.gs1us.org/
Get Started: https://www.gs1us.org/upcs-barcodes-prefixes/how-to-get-a-upc-barcode
GS1 US YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/GS1US
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