Not just a competitor, Amazon has grown to be a small business tool that displays their products on the e-commerce giant’s site, drastically increasing their reach.
If you have taken the exciting step of selling your products on Amazon, you will quickly realize that you need to buy and use an Amazon UPC number for your products.
UPC stands for universal product code and is a type of barcode number for products. The initial process of getting them can be somewhat complex and confusing, so we’ve created this complete guide to answering how to get a UPC code for Amazon once and for all.
What is a UPC code?
So you just learned that a UPC code is a type of barcode number, but what does it consist of? In general, a UPC code contains two key components:
A unique number A machine-readable barcode
As their name suggests, UPC codes are everywhere products are. You have probably seen them many times on products that you have purchased in grocery stores and shops. In general, there are three types of UPC codes you need to be aware of: 1
UPC-A-UPC-A codes have 12 digits in total, with the first six digits being your company’s unique prefix. UPC-E-UPC-E codes can have up to 12 digits in total, but they can also have fewer. The first six digits are still your company’s unique prefix. GTINs – GTINs are global trading numbers and gaining more popularity in recent years. The standard 12-digit UPC is a GTIN-12.
In fact, UPC codes originate in grocery stores, where the codes streamlined the logistics process with:
Inventory management Warehouse shelves Check out
Why do you need UPC codes for Amazon?
With UPC codes, a wide range of brands and products became easily identifiable. Now companies like Amazon rely on UPC codes to keep track of products as they move through complex global supply chains. They also help prevent any Amazon listing and associated confusion
Amazon Marketplace sells over 350 million products, a logistical achievement that would surely be impossible without the magic of UPC codes.2
If your company sells products from an already established supplier or manufacturer, they will probably give you UPC codes. However, if you make your own products or sell a private label product, you will need to download UPC codes for each new product you want to display on Amazon.
Some sellers have exceptions – you must create an Amazon merchant account before you can access this information. However, you will probably need to purchase Amazon UPC codes, which we will cover next time
Step-by-step guide to purchasing UPC codes for Amazon
This process will highlight how to get a UPC code for Amazon. When you first purchase an Amazon UPC code, the initial process can often be complex. As such, we have outlined the following steps: 1
Register as an Amazon Seller at Amazon Marketplace Navigate to Amazon Seller Central and confirm that you really need UPC codes. Once you have confirmed that you need UPC codes, you have two options: Register with GS1 US or buy existing UPC codes
Option # 1: Register with GS1 US
GS1 sounds like a kind of foreign prefix, but it actually refers to the non-profit organization responsible for global information standards for business communication. Its goal is to optimize the global supply chain and prevent problems before they occur.
Different companies have their own GS1 branches – GS1 US is the US GS1 unit. As such, if your company is based in the states, you must register with GS1 US to purchase UPCs and acquire your company’s six-digit prefix.1
Step 1: Apply for GS1 membership and obtain a UPC Prefix License
Before anything else, you must apply for membership with GS1. Then you can fill out their company prefix application. You remember that your UPC prefix is the first six digits of the UPC number that connects the Amazon product to your business.
These prefixes are complex animals. You can barcode your prefix on as few as 10 unique products or as many as 100,000 individual products. However, you will need a barcode for each product variation, which includes differences in:
Before starting the application process, confirm the prefix capacity – or the number of products that need barcode labels – that you need at the moment or will need in the future. GS1 US offers a free barcode calculation tool to help you complete this step accurately.
Once you know your needs, the prefix program only takes a few minutes to complete. Once you have selected your prefix capacity, you can then complete your purchase.
GS1 US provides the following price breakdown: 3
1-10 products that need a barcode-Initial fee: $ 250; Annual renewal fee: $ 50 1-100 products that need a barcode-Initial fee: $ 750; Annual Renewal Fee: $ 150 For 1-1,000 Products Needing a Bar Code-Initial Fee: $ 2,500; Annual Renewal Fee: $ 500 For 1-10,000 Products Needing a Bar Code Initial Fee: $ 6,500; Annual Renewal Fee: $ 1,300 For 1-100,000 Products Needing a Bar Code-Initial Fee: $ 10,500; Annual renewal fee: $ 2,100
If your product falls under the umbrella of the healthcare industry, you may also be required by the FDA to use an assigned NDC (National Drug Code) or NHRIC (National Health Related Items Code) instead of a GS1 company prefix. You can contact the FDA if you think this is relevant to your situation. In that case, the GS1 has a capacity of 1-100,000 and charges: 3
Initial fee – $ 2,100 Annual renewal fee – $ 2,100
As of November 2020, GS1 USA also allows companies to license individual UPCs, which are these GTINs available for $ 30 each without an additional renewal fee.1
Step 2: Enter your product information
Once you have submitted your prefix license application, GS1 will provide you with a list of available UPCs. To add product information to the codes, visit the online GS1 US Data Hub. There you can:
Enter product information Enable UPCs
Here are the specific steps to complete this process:
Log in to the GS1 US Data Hub. Find the global navigation menu and select “Product”. Go to “Manage Products” and open the “Create Product” screen.
When you have reached the “Create product” page, GS1 asks: “Is this item variable measurable?” Basically, this question asks whether the product e.g. Available in different sizes or colors. If your products are different, select the check box accordingly. Next you will enter:
Product description The brand name SKU
After clicking save, find the “Assign GTIN from Reserved” button to select which of the supplied UPCs you want to assign to this product that you have added. There is also an automatic assignment function.
Your last step will be to change the status of the product. Select “in use” for each product that now has an activated UPC code.
Congratulations! You can now sell your products on the Amazon Marketplace
Option # 2: Buy existing UPCs
Not all companies have the budget or patience to go through the GS1 application process. As a result, there are several online companies that license a UPC using another company’s prefix, which they can then sell to other companies that have a budget.
The cost can be as low as $ 12 for a single UPC or around $ 40 for 10. Despite the initial savings, this street is not foolproof. Based on data from Nationwide Barcode, 8 percent of their customers cannot use the UPCs they have purchased.
Why? Nationwide barcode is not completely transparent and claims that although their UPCs work in general, they may not work for some vendors. In addition, Amazon can add extra hangers to jump through, making it easier to ultimately buy via GS1 US1
For companies that have a budget but are concerned about potential logistical problems with the purchase of used UPCs, individual UPCs via GS1 may fit better.
For $ 30 pr. UPC is this option a little more expensive, but you want peace of mind that your UPC is guaranteed to be functional
In addition, many companies turn to Amazon because they hope to grow their business. In these situations, the included pricing that GS1 offers may be more advantageous in the long run, unless your company plans to ship less than 10 products.
More resources from Amazon
Whether you decide to buy your UPCs from GS1 or a secondary seller like Nationwide Barcode, there are some other important resources that Amazon offers its sellers. These include:
Amazon FBA – For $ 39.99 pr. Month plus sales fees, Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon program will take care of your entire fulfillment process from storage to shipping and even return.4 Amazon Seller University – Amazon offers a comprehensive catalog of training resources to help its salespeople understand how to succeed in The Amazon Marketplace ecosystem.5 Amazon Business – Amazon Business offers exclusive pricing, flexible payment, faster shipping and more for the products businesses need to thrive.
Increase your e-commerce efforts with PDM
The initial process of obtaining your UPC codes, whether using GS1 or a secondary vendor, can seem tedious. However, keep in mind the crucial importance of these barcodes. Without them, Amazon’s global supply chain may well collapse.
Ultimately, these UPC codes are a necessary part of the business and allow you to grow and sell your products through Amazon’s network of more than 300 million users.
If you want to grow your business with more than just UPC codes, Marketing-Ideas Marketing can help you elevate your brand’s presence and adapt a digital marketing strategy to help you attract buyers, sell products and retain customers.
Learn more today about other available Amazon features. Wondering if Amazon FBA is worth it? What is Amazon Explore or Amazon Marketing Cloud? Our digital marketing agency has you covered.
Convenient e-commerce. How to get UPCs for sale on Amazon. https://www.practicalecommerce.com/how-to-obtain-upcs-for-selling-on-amazon Retail Touchpoints. How many products does Amazon carry? https://retailtouchpoints.com/resources/how-many-products-does-amazon-carry GS1 US. GS1 company prefix. https://my.gs1us.org/product/1024/gs1-company-prefix Amazon. Fulfillment of Amazon. https://sell.amazon.com/fulfillment-by-amazon.html Amazon. Sales University. https://sell.amazon.com/learn.html