There are millions of products on Amazon, and each one needs to be uniquely identified so it can be searched, catalogued, and sold. This is where Unique Product Codes (UPC) come in. If you’re starting out and feeling a little overwhelmed by everything, RepricerExpress has you covered.
How UPC Codes Work on Amazon
There’s a non-profit organisation called GS1 (Global Standard 1) that’s set the standard for how UPCs work in supply chains, and they have a huge database of the existing ones. Amazon then checks the UPC you’ve given them against this database. If there’s a match, you’re good. But if there’s not, your listing is considered invalid and it’ll be deleted.
When you have a product, you’ll have to buy a UPC from GS1. It’s a fairly lengthy number in the barcode — it’s 7-11 digits and known as your company prefix and identifies the manufacturer or product brand owner.
Some sellers buy UPCs from other sellers. The big problem with this is the UPC won’t match to you, but to the original owner. While it may seem convenient if both of you sell similar items, there’s no guarantee the original owner won’t change. If that happens, there’ll be a mismatch and Amazon won’t like that. Reselling barcodes isn’t illegal, but it can be more hassle than it’s worth.
Another thing to be aware of is UPCs for Amazon are 12 digits in length.
How to Get an Amazon UPC
As we noted before, the best, easiest, and most hassle-free way of using a UPC for Amazon is to go through GS1. To do that, you’ll need to create a GS1 login and become a member by submitting an application. Once that’s done, they’ll give you a unique GS1 prefix just for your company and that series of digits will start off every barcode you have.
Once you have that string of digits, you can begin attaching GS1 numbers and barcodes to the products you’ll be selling on Amazon. GS1 also has a portal where you can manage your barcodes, as well as copy or print them, like if you wanted to make your own labels.
The good news is UPCs are fairly affordable. If you’re selling up to 1,000 products, you can expect to pay ₤119. And if you need up to 100,000 numbers each year, the cost only goes up to ₤3,200, so it becomes even cheaper for each product.
Tip: If you’re selling bundles, you don’t need individual UPCs for each product. You just need one UPC for the whole bundle, but it has to be unique to that bundle. And if you’re selling bundles from the same brand but you’re not the brand owner, then you need to go to the brand owner for the UPC.
What to Do if You Have ‘Bad’ UPCs
Maybe you read this post after you already bought UPCs, or maybe you found a better price than with GS1. Whatever the case, if Amazon’s notified you that your UPC isn’t good, here are some reasons why and what you can do about it.
- Reselling: Sometimes there’s already a listing with the correct information, and yours has the incorrect UPC. If that’s the case, shut your listing down and list against the correct one. Even if there isn’t a correct listing, you should still delete your incorrect one, then you can create a new listing with the correct information.
- Private Labels: If you’ve got a private label, it makes things a little easier in that you don’t have to worry about getting a UPC from another brand owner. You can also decide which items to sell individually and which ones to bundle, and then get UPCs accordingly. However, you still have to follow the rules about getting UPCs from GS1 and making sure all your listings are valid. But if you have Brand Registry, then you can list without a UPC. To do this, you’ll have to contact Seller Support so they can change the key attribute to something other than a UPC.
It can be a little daunting making sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row, but the UPC part of things is one of the more straightforward ones, especially with this post in your back pocket. Once you’ve written up your listings, the next step is to use RepricerExpress so that you have the most competitive prices 24/7. But the only way you can do that is to sign up, and we’ll start you off with a 15-day free trial.