You can have the trendiest products, the flashiest marketing and the strongest supply chains, but if your product barcodes aren’t up to scratch you could be in serious trouble with Amazon.
The thing is that barcodes aren’t just there for decoration. They are an essential tool in the entire process. Some would even argue that they are the most important aspect of being an Amazon Seller. If you incorrectly label or barcode your items you can be faced with Amazon chargebacks, forced rebarcoding (costly and time-consuming) or in a worst-case scenario have your Seller account shut down.
But we are here to stop all that from happening. With the right product barcodes and labels you can keep Bezos happy, keep Amazon happy, and keep your business running smoothly.
Why Your Products Need Barcodes
The full technical answer is that barcodes are required to identify and track inventory throughout the fulfilment process.
The simpler answer is that they tell you and Amazon what is where.
They also expedite processing. Thanks to automation within Amazon’s incredibly powerful supply chain, scanning barcodes saves hours of manual labour every single day. This cuts down costs along the entire supply chain as well as gets your items to your customers as efficiently as possible.
Product Barcodes vs. Bundle Barcodes
In what is a relatively straightforward subject, many new Amazon Sellers can’t grasp their heads around what exactly needs to have a barcode and how many they need.
So let’s crack out an example.
I want to sell 200 units of doohickeys.
Each of these doohickeysis the exact same model, size, shape, colour, weight etc. They are absolutely identical in every single way. This means that they require one unique barcode, but that barcode should be printed on the packaging of each doohickeys as they are sold separately.
Next month I wish to expand my variety of doohickeys. I want to sell 100 units of standard doohickeys, and 100 units of a larger variety.
Despite them being the same model, shape and colour – they are different sizes which means that they class as different products (at least as far as product barcodes are concerned).
This means I need two unique barcodes. One barcode to be applied to all the smaller variety, and the other on the larger variety.
Bundle barcodes are even more fun. They require their own barcodes too!
- Even if the contained products have their own barcodes
- Even if the contained products are exactly the same
The bundle still needs its own barcode visible on the packaging – and it should be the only visible barcode on the packaging! Each bundle has unique sizes, shapes, weights etc. That’s why bundles still require their own unique barcodes.
What is a Barcode?
We hope that you know what a barcode looks like by this point. But is it white with black stripes, or black with white stripes?
Fun fact: While you and I would read the numbers (they’re the visual version), scanners don’t scan the black lines – they scan the spaces in between!
What Kind of Product Barcodes do you Need to Sell on Amazon?
First things first, you have the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) family. These barcodes include:
These are manufacturer barcodes. On the other side, you also have the Amazon Barcode – the ASIN.
These are both essential as Amazon is a stickler for good product barcodes. If the product you’re selling is already listed on Amazon, even if it’s from another retailer, the product will have its own ASIN.
Why is this important?
Because as you add products you will either use the GTIN + ASIN to register the product, OR you will register with the GTIN to produce a suitable ASIN.
If you go for the latter process, but the product already has an ASIN assigned, you will create a duplicate – and Jeff Bezos does not take kindly to duplicates. Amazon will happily remove your duplicate products in a flash and perhaps enforce punitive measures on your seller account. So don’t do it!
FNSKU – An Explanation
FNSKUs can, and should, be used on all of your listings.
It isn’t just a barcode identifying the product, an FNSKU identifies the product with the specific seller ie. You. If you don’t have this unique identifier then it creates what is known as co-mingled inventory on Amazon.
Essentially Amazon would have no way of knowing which stock is yours and which belongs to a different Seller. It makes it very simple for someone to create a bunch of knock-off products and sell them alongside your own.
To avoid all of that you will need a UPC.
How Can I Get a UPC?
You have two methods of getting a Universal Product Code (UPC).
- Purchase UPCs directly from GS1 – the only organisation capable of licensing and assigning Amazon-accepted barcodes.
- Purchase resold UPC codes from third-party Sellers
Do not, we repeat, do NOT purchase your UPCs from resellers. We’ll explain quickly, or rather this official statement from Amazon Seller Central will:
Cleared it up? If it hasn’t already been made clear, let’s break down the difference between original and resold UPCs and the consequences that can happen.
GS1 UPCs vs Resold UPCs
When we say “purchase” UPCs from GS1, it’s rather misleading.
Actually you simply purchase a licence from GS1 and the right to make UPCs with your unique company prefix.
Those UPC prefixes in the barcode are strictly for your company and only your company. Every single one of your barcodes will begin with the same numbers in order to identify you as the business that produced these exact products.
If you purchase resold codes, you will sell products with another company’s prefix. Even if their licence has expired, a quick Google search can still confirm that it comes from another company.
But if you use that resold code on Amazon – what will happen?
Either you’ll be unable to list your items, because Amazon will likely catch you, or in rarer circumstances it will actually accept it. But not for long.
Amazon will eventually check the UPC against the GS1 database and suspend the ASINs of every product NOT from the original licensee. They are also highly likely to put a ban on your Seller account. In the unlikely event that your Seller account stays open, you will still have to re-barcode all your items anyway.
Only this time you’ll have to do it correctly.
For a clear, clean and quick product listing and product journey – you need GS1 licenced barcodes. Fully compliant labels keep you from committing infractions and provide streamlined, end to end delivery processes from manufacture to customer.
Thankfully we are proud to be a GS1 UK approved partner!
That’s why both our Product Finder and Vendor Connect services are GS1 approved. Whether it’s EAN/UPC validation or mapping, our services are maintained to the highest standard to match our GS1 partners.