Product codes on Amazon – what, why and when?

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Product codes often raise questions when selling on Amazon. It’s easy to get confused about the terms and you’re not always sure which codes to get. In this post, we’ll explore the key product codes and what they mean when selling on Amazon.

International product codes

A Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN, is an identification number that a business can use to identify and track all of its products and services. The internationally recognised and renowned GTIN system is controlled and managed by GS1. The GTIN ensures the unique identification of products during purchase, sale and transport.

The GTIN is divided into different categories according to the number series and the purpose of use: ISBN, EAN (European Article Number) and JAN (Japanese Article Number) are the most common. EAN and JAN are also collectively referred to as International Article Number (IAN).

Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode system in widespread international use. The UPC contains carefully constructed and coded lines that allow the barcode to be read from any direction. The barcode is the scannable part of the UPC and the GTIN is the series of numbers below or above it. Together, the two are the element that can be found on the packaging of all products available for resale.
The combination of GTIN and UPC is particularly suitable for retail because of the high volume of scanning, especially in supermarkets. The EAN contains information about the manufacturer, the packaging and the unique data of the product. Different variations of the same product always have their own GTIN/EAN code, so that for example size and colour variations can be read from the product code. For retailers, the product code system is particularly important for managing stocks and product returns.

Product codes on Amazon

GTIN is also used on Amazon. For new product listings, GTIN is the most common way of identifying a new product. In some cases you do not need a separate product identifier, but these are rare and always require a separate GTIN exemption from Amazon. In addition to the international product codes, Amazon has two dedicated ID-systems:

ASIN, or Amazon Standard Identification number, is a product code that is generated for each product listed on Amazon. ASIN is a 10-digit code that is unique for each product. ASINs are used by Amazon to track products in the catalogue. The ASIN is also part of the URL leading to the product page.

A SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is an internal product code system that allows sellers to manage inventory on Amazon sales when using the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) delivery system. A SKU is a code that is created by the seller. Each product and product variation has its own SKU to make it easier to maintain inventory.

So when listing a new product, it’s important to have your product code or apply for GTIN exemption! Although Amazon has its own codes, the ASIN is not created until the product listing is public and the SKU is only for internal inventory management.

Getting started on Amazon is quick and relatively inexpensive, but success requires an understanding of the e-commerce giant’s business logic. Getting to the top of Amazon’s search results requires a careful strategy and continuous optimisation. Our knowledgeable journey leaders will be happy to discuss your business’s potential in the ecommerce jungle with you – feel free to contact us!