Setting up an Amazon seller account is quite easy. However, for those who are serious about building their ecommerce shop, there are other crucial aspects that you need to consider. One of these is the UPC. Here, we guide you through understanding what UPC is and how to buy UPC codes for Amazon.
Before we delve further into UPC, here are some commonly used acronyms that can help you navigate the process of buying UPC codes and listing products on Amazon. You’ll encounter these terms in this guide and in other guides on how to become a successful seller on Amazon.
A UPC is a unique 12-digit number that serves as a means to identify and track retail products globally. From the numerical string, a barcode image can be generated for use with machine scanners. UPC codes are part of the EAN/UPC family of symbols, which are widely recognized and accepted by major retailers and distributors worldwide. These barcodes play a crucial role in facilitating efficient product identification and stock management.
For retail products, GS1 typically uses UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-13, and EAN-8. UPC-A barcodes consist of a series of variable-width lines and spaces that encode data, including the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for product identification. These are the standard barcodes used in the United States and Canada. UPC-E is the compressed version of the UPC-A but also carries the 12-digit code. EAN-13 is more widely used outside of North America. It has a 13-digit code that includes a country code. A more compact version of this code is EAN-8 with only eight digits.
Anyone planning to sell products online or in physical stores can benefit from obtaining a UPC. It is a global standard that enables compatibility with major online platforms, improves stock management, and ensures effective product identification for consumers. Having a UPC is crucial for reaching a wider audience, enhancing customer experience, and maximizing sales opportunities in the digital marketplace.
Here are some reasons why a UPC is necessary for business growth.
Most online marketplaces require product identifiers.
To list products on popular online platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Google, Carrefour, Tesco, and Walmart, a unique identification number from GS1 is required. These platforms rely on GS1 barcodes, including UPC codes, to ensure accurate product identification, inventory management, and seamless transactions. By obtaining a UPC, sellers gain access to a broader customer base and can showcase their products to a global audience.
UPC barcodes are recognized worldwide.
If you intend to grow your business into a global brand, having UPCs for your products or services allows you to expand your operations on a global scale faster. Because UPC is a global standard, international buyers can easily identify the products you sell. They also make it possible for over 300 million active Amazon users to find your products.
UPCs help make stock management more efficient.
A UPC barcode acts as a unique product identifier, enabling efficient stock management for sellers. By scanning the barcode, product information such as description and price can be retrieved from a computer database. This streamlines inventory tracking, helps prevent stockouts, and facilitates accurate order fulfillment.
UPCs play a crucial role in ensuring accurate and effective product identification for consumers. Customers can easily recognize and differentiate products based on their unique UPC codes. This helps build trust and credibility among customers, leading to an enhanced customer experience and repeat purchases.
Having a UPC is crucial for reaching a wider audience and maximizing sales opportunities in the digital marketplace. Aside from tapping into established online marketplaces, UPCs also make it easy for customers to search and compare products for more informed purchasing decisions.
There are over 100 GS1 offices around the world where you can buy UPC for your products. You can also buy them online through the GS1 website. Before you can generate UPCs, you must apply for a GS1 US GTIN or a GS1 Company Prefix first.
For beginner sellers with limited product types, a GS1 US GTIN will be the more cost-effective option. Aside from the free subscription to GS1 US Data Hub, there are no annual fees to pay and one GTIN costs only $30.
After processing the payment, you will receive a welcome email with further instructions on how to get your UPC barcode using the GTIN. You can then print and apply this barcode to your product packaging or make it available online for scanning and identification of your product.
If you have a sizable product line or have plans of adding to your existing one, you might want to consider getting a GS1 Company Prefix. This will allow you to get multiple barcodes simultaneously and create new ones faster. Depending on the number of GTINs or barcodes you need, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $50 to $2,100 and an initial fee of $250 to $2,100.
Your GS1 company prefix is a six-digit code that will appear at the front of all the UPCs you generate. This will allow you to create barcodes for 10 to 100,000 unique products.
To get UPC barcodes for your products after obtaining a GS1 company prefix:
Keep in mind that a UPC is unique for every product variation. If you are selling a shirt, for instance, you’d need one UPC for it. If the shirt comes in two different colors, you’d need two UPCs—one for each color variation. If each color comes in three different sizes, you’ll need a total of six UPCs.
After purchasing UPC codes, you need to convert the barcode numbers into barcode images for them to be scannable by consumers or at point-of-sale terminals. You can use software or online barcode generators for this. Then you can integrate the barcodes into your packaging, use printed labels, or print the barcodes directly onto the product.
For online selling, key in the UPC of your product when you list it on online marketplaces. On Amazon, you can set the UPC barcode as your default code for inventory tracking.
For product listings on Amazon, you need to provide the numerical UPC when you list an item on the platform for the first time. If you are on Amazon FBA, you will also need a barcode for identifying and tracking inventory throughout the fulfillment process. UPC and EAN are among the manufacturer barcodes Amazon accepts on product listings.
When you create a product list, go to the field Product ID. Key in your UPC code here. You will have to do this only once for new listings. Succeeding listings of the same item will automatically fall under this product ID.
In cases where the products you want to list do not have UPC or other product identifiers available, you can apply for a GTIN exemption from Amazon. You can do this during the product listing creation process. Click on GTIN Exemption Request and select the product category that has no identifier. Provide all the necessary information and the supporting letter from the manufacturer, if available. Once approved, your product will be listed. However, you would most likely be asked to get an Amazon barcode for your item.
UPC codes play a vital role for sellers who aim to establish and grow their own brand on platforms like Amazon. These unique identification numbers provided by GS1 ensure that products have a standardized and globally recognized barcode, enabling seamless listing, inventory management, and customer engagement.
By understanding what UPC codes are and how to obtain them through GS1, you can navigate the process of creating accurate and legitimate product listings on Amazon. However, you must also invest time and effort into mastering other essential aspects of running a successful business on the platform. By combining a strong understanding of UPC codes with continuous learning and strategic decision-making, you can effectively build your own brand and thrive in the dynamic and competitive e-commerce landscape.