Amazon Barcode Requirements
Amazon’s policy for barcode numbers continues to change, as well as variations in how strictly it is enforced. While we work to keep this information up-to-date, if you wish to be certain about barcode acceptance on Amazon or any other retailer, it is best to check with them directly.
Amazon uses barcode numbers (13-digit EAN or 12-digit UPC) as unique product identifiers, and then they also assign their own unique identification number – called an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).
Until a few years ago, barcodes on Amazon were very uncontrolled – anyone could list any product on Amazon using any barcode number, as long as that barcode number wasn’t already being used for another product on Amazon. However, this caused some serious problems for legitimate sellers, and some found that their numbers had already been stolen and used illegally by someone else on Amazon.
Searching legacy barcode numbers
In 2016, an Amazon Executive joined GS1’s board of governors, and they began to implement tighter policies and started undertaking some ‘housecleaning’ to tidy up the Amazon database. Unfortunately, legacy barcode numbers are still used on Amazon that conflict with numbers that we own and sell. To avoid issues with this, we have implemented increasingly deep-level searching for the Amazon databases to find these fraudulent legacy numbers. We use the Amazon APIs, which have some success with current products, but unfortunately, these are limited in how deeply they search the Amazon databases. So our tech gurus developed some sophisticated search software that goes far beyond the traditional Amazon search options. We use this software to deep-search Amazon for all numbers before we sell them. If it finds any of these (historic fraudulent listings using our numbers), we delete the numbers and don’t sell them. This is proprietary software that is much more effective than Amazon’s APIs and searches far deeper than any other barcode seller.
Amazon prefers barcode numbers to come directly from GS1 – they have a preference that their suppliers are current members of GS1. Unfortunately, this is very expensive, especially for smaller manufacturers/businesses – as GS1 charge relatively expensive joining fees plus recurring fees for the rest of your product life. So GS1 membership is effective for listing on Amazon but is also an expensive option.
As mentioned above, there are thousands of products currently listed on Amazon using our barcodes. You can view some examples at https://internationalbarcodes.com/products-on-amazon/.
In recent years, Amazon has moved to try and stop branded products (big brands) from being listed on Amazon using barcode numbers other than those of the original brand – possibly to stop pirating or illicit listings. To enforce this, Amazon became ‘tighter’ with barcode numbers – although the implementation of this policy seems to vary a lot. We spoke to a customer recently who has three products on Amazon using our barcodes. Amazon had just asked him for further proof of ownership for one of the barcode numbers but not the others. Apparently, he provided them with the proof needed (of ownership), and their problem was solved. We can also provide this documentation to our customers if required, demonstrating the links for their numbers back to the original GS1 licensee.
We don’t know where Amazon is heading in regards to its barcode policy. We hope that they will be reasonable and allow people to list products using legitimate and verifiable barcode numbers (the ones we sell). However, Amazon might go crazy and become more restrictive and eventually no longer accept our barcodes in the future.
We have many customers who can still use our barcode numbers to list their products on Amazon. We presume that is because if Amazon decides to check the numbers (and it is unclear whether they check very many numbers), then our barcode numbers can be seen on the GS1 database (hence showing that they are of GS1 origin – although the listing will show the original licensee and not us as the owner) and also because our customers can list their product/company details alongside their barcodes at https://barcodesdatabase.org, which also feeds to other databases. This can help our customers prove to Amazon that the barcode numbers are legitimate. We can’t update the GS1 GEPIR database – no barcode reseller can do this.
You might need to enter our barcodes in Amazon’s system as 12-digit versions (UPC) without a leading 0 (e.g. 0712345678901 becomes 712345678901) – both versions of the number are the same and belong to you – but Amazon possibly prefers the 1- digit version at the moment.
- Sometimes Amazon asks for proof of the connection between the supplier (you) and the original barcode licensee (as listed on gepir.org) – we can provide our customers with a document demonstrating this chain of proof. Some of our customers have had this accepted by Amazon.
- It is possible to apply to Amazon for GTIN exemption – this allows the listing of products without a GTIN (barcode) – the process and requirements for this exemption are unclear.
- We have been advised by customers occasionally that Amazon require their website address (URL) on the barcode invoice. Please let us know (when you purchase barcodes or later) if you would like your website address on the invoice/receipt.
- Recently (since late 2019), Amazon has tightened up on the ‘brand’ field when listing. They are pushing suppliers to register on the Amazon brand Directory (see below). However, we have been able to list products using ‘N/A’ in the brand field (as recommended by Amazon). Other Amazon suppliers report using ‘Generic’ or ‘unbranded’ in this brand field.
It might also be possible to register with Amazon’s Brand Registry, making it easier to have products approved on Amazon and reducing the occasional problems with barcodes.
Amazon Error Codes
Listing on Amazon can be difficult, and there are a few specific error codes that can commonly occur while trying to list on Amazon. These commonly have to do with the ‘Brand’ field during the listing process.
Fortunately, these usually have a simple solution. Common error codes and solutions can be seen here: https://internationalbarcodes.net/amazon-error-codes-and-solutions/.
Note: You may also want to see our videos about listing on Amazon: https://internationalbarcodes.net/videos-on-how-to-list-on-amazon/.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.