Before you can create a listing for your new product on Amazon, there’s one crucial step you need to take care of — purchasing a UPC.
While it may sound a little intimidating to a new seller, the process is relatively simple.
In this article, we’ll go over what a UPC is, why you need one, and where to purchase one that’s compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service.
What is a UPC?
UPC stands for Universal Product Code and is the barcode used to identify a particular retail product. When you look at nearly any product you purchase from a store, it will have a scannable barcode on the packaging. The unique 12-digit number underneath the barcode is the UPC.
When that barcode is scanned or entered into a search engine such as Amazon, the product connected to that code will appear in the store’s system or the Amazon search results.
Do you need a UPC to sell products on Amazon?
Yes and no — let me explain.
You need a UPC for your Amazon product because Amazon requires all new product detail pages to have a unique product identifier when they are created, such as a UPC, EAN, GTIN, and so on. All these are examples of a product identifier.
Amazon wants to ensure that the brand name used to create the new listing matches the brand name linked to the UPC in the GS1 database. GS1 is the global standard for product barcodes and is the company Amazon verifies your UPC with.
If the UPC does not match the information provided by GS1, Amazon will consider your UPC to be invalid and won’t let you list your product.
In certain circumstances, Amazon allows sellers to list new products without a UPC or other product identifier in certain circumstances. We’ll go over this shortly.
Does my UPC barcode need to be printed on my product packaging?
While Amazon requires a UPC (or other product identifiers) to create a listing, technically, you don’t need to have the UPC barcode printed on your product packaging to sell it on Amazon.
If you are sending your products into an Amazon fulfillment center using FBA, you will be required to label each product with an FNSKU barcode.
The FNSKU barcode is your “Amazon Barcode” and tells Amazon that the product you’re selling belongs to your seller account.
How to list a product on Amazon without a UPC
If, for whatever reason, your product does not have a UPC, you may apply for what’s called a GTIN Exemption. If approved, Amazon will allow you to list your product on Amazon without needing a UPC or other product identifier.
Where to buy a UPC for Amazon
When purchasing a UPC for your private label product, always buy them through GS1. GS1 is a non-profit global organization that maintains and manages authentic product barcodes for over two million companies in 115 countries. Amazon requires all UPCs to be obtained from GS1 to ensure accuracy and legitimacy.
In the past, Amazon sellers would purchase cheap UPCs from third-party websites, and even on eBay. The problem with doing this is that a seller is technically purchasing a UPC connected to a different brand/product.
If Amazon finds that your UPC is inauthentic, they will remove your listing and may even suspend your ability to create new ASINs.
Do not play around with this — always purchase your UPC or product identifier from GS1.
How to buy a UPC from GS1
To purchase a UPC from GS1, go to the website, and click on “Apply for a Barcode” in the top right.
Previously, sellers had no other options but to purchase a minimum of 10 barcodes with an initial fee of $250 and an annual fee of $50. For most new Amazon sellers, that is nine too many. Plus, that was another high, upfront cost.
Now, you can purchase one single UPC from GS1 for just $30 and no annual fee. It’s a welcome option for businesses that are just getting started and launching one product at a time.
After clicking on “Apply for a Barcode,” scroll down to the “Start Small with a GS1 US GTIN” section and click on “Get a GTIN.”
Fill in the required information, and you will have your UPC ready for Amazon!
What to do once you have your GS1 UPC
Once you have your UPC, you can create your Amazon listing. Go to “Add a Product” in Seller Central to begin this process.
Then choose, “I’m adding a product not sold on Amazon.”
Next, you will choose your product’s category and move on to the details of your product. This section is where you will enter the vital information for your product, including the Product ID.
NOTE: Allow 24-48 hours for your UPC to become active on GS1. If you try to list your product on Amazon immediately, it may come up as invalid.
When listing your product on Amazon, make sure that the Brand Name section matches the brand name exactly as it is in the GS1 database.
Everything you need to know about UPCs on Amazon
We hope this article gave you all the information you need about purchasing the proper UPCs for your Amazon product. Remember, only buy a UPC from GS1!
You can also check out our latest How to Sell on Amazon YouTube video, where we quickly talk about how to buy and use your UPC on Amazon.
Do you have any more questions about UPCs? Let us know down in the comments!