How do you list products on Amazon without a UPC?
Amazon has specific rules on what type of UPCs that they will accept as valid. In this episode, Nate and Robyn talk about GTIN Exemptions, UPCs, and the GS1 Barcode database.
Do I need a UPC to list my product on Amazon?
The answer to that problem can depend on a few factors. One of these factors is the category of your item. While Amazon requires a UPC for a majority of categories, there are some categories on Amazon that do not require a UPC. Amazon has a list available with the requirements for GTINs (Global Trade Identification Numbers)in Seller Central.
If a UPC is required, you want also to note that Amazon has specific policies around UPCs. Amazon’s policy about UPCs states that:
“We verify the authenticity of product UPCs by checking the GS1 database. UPCs that do not match the information provided by GS1 will be considered invalid. We recommend obtaining your UPCs directly from GS1 (and not from other third parties selling UPC licenses) to ensure the appropriate information is reflected in the GS1 database.”
This means that technically, for your UPC to be valid to create a listing on Amazon, it should be a GS1 barcode registered to the company that makes the product. There are a few categories that do not require UPCs at this time. For those products, you generally need an MPN (manufacturers part number) to create your listing.
Can I buy GS1 Barcodes for products to list them on Amazon?
If you are the brand owner, you can purchase a UPC via GS1. However, you are a reseller; you cannot buy a GS1 barcode for an item you want to list on Amazon. This is because the owner of the barcode at GS1 needs to match the company that produces the product on Amazon.
What is GS1?
“GS1 is a not-for-profit organization that develops and maintains global standards for business communication. The best known of these standards is the barcode, a symbol printed on products that can be scanned electronically. GS1 barcodes are scanned more than six billion times every day.” Wikepedia
While GS1 barcodes are the industry standard, they are also relatively expensive. The price decreases as you increase the number of UPC’s that you purchase, the first UPC is $250 with a $50 a year renewal fee. That is why many companies opt to use a GTIN exemption instead of purchasing GS1 barcodes.
There can be a temptation to purchase resold UPCs from eBay or other sources. These will not be able to be validated on Amazon. While you might be able to create the listing itself, you might end up with other frustrations down the road like suspected intellectual property violations.
UPCs and Suspected IP Violations
Suspected IP violations are relatively new as part of Amazon’s rules and regulations. However, they have been a more significant issue than anticipated, especially if you’re working with bundles.
Suspected IP violations happen when Amazon detects a UPC that doesn’t correlate to a particular company. Yet, the listing has the company name in the title or description, so they’re going to flag this as a potential problem, and you’re going to have correct it.
If you are a brand owner, you want to make sure that the brand name that you’re entering for that particular product is an exact match to the one on file (case-sensitive, spacing, apostrophes). Otherwise, Amazon is not going to recognize it as part of that same brand. So it’s imperative to have attention to detail as you are creating these listings.
GTIN Exemptions on Amazon
Before you create a request for a GTIN Exemption, you need to consider that Amazon has a list of brands that do not allow this type of exemption, and unfortunately, the number of brands on that list grows regularly. Said companies have been identified by Amazon as highly susceptible to counterfeit or are involved in a lot of intellectual property issues. For these particular companies, they’re not going to allow exemptions because of the rampant abuse that they’ve seen.
If you are the brand owner or have consent, then you can still get that GTIN exemption, but you need to make sure you are enrolled in “Brand Registry.” Getting that GTIN exemption and being able to list without a UPC is one of the significant benefits of being part of the Brand Registry Program. Once you are enrolled in Brand Registry, you will not need to apply individually for a GTIN exemption. Create the listing with an MPN and make sure the brand name you include in the listing is an exact match to the brand name you filed for Brand Registry.
To submit a request for a GTIN exemption follow Amazon guidelines, they even provide a template of how they want you to send in the information, and they usually grant the exemption within 24 to 48 hours if everything checks out.