Amazon Barcode Requirements
Amazon’s barcode policy continues to change, along with variations in how strictly it is enforced. While we attempt to keep this information up-to-date, if you wish to be certain about barcode acceptance on Amazon or with any other retailer, it is best to check directly with them.
Amazon use barcode numbers (13 digit EAN or 12 digit UPC) as unique product identifiers, and then they also assign their own identification number – called an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).
Up until a few years ago, the use of barcodes on Amazon was 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 problems for legitimate sellers, and some found that their number had already been stolen and used by someone else on Amazon.
Searching legacy barcode numbers
In late 2016, an Amazon Executive joined the board of governors for GS1 and they began implementing tighter policies, plus undertaking some ‘house-cleaning’ to tidy up the Amazon database. Unfortunately, there are still legacy barcode numbers in use on Amazon that conflict with the numbers we own and sell. To avoid problems with this, we have implemented increasingly deep level searching of 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 deep they search on the Amazon databases. So our tech-gurus developed some sophisticated search software that goes far beyond the traditional Amazon search options. We use this to search Amazon deeply 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 the Amazon APIs, and searches much deeper than any other barcode seller.
Amazon definitely 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 – 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 also expensive.
As mentioned above, there are thousands of products currently listed on Amazon using our barcodes. You can view some examples at https://barcodes.ph/our-barcodes-on-amazon/.
In recent years, Amazon moved to try to stop branded products (big brands) being listed on Amazon using barcode numbers other than 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 3 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 was able to provide the proof needed (of ownership) and the problem was solved. We can also provide documentation to our customers, if required, that demonstrates the links for their numbers back to the original GS1-licensee.
We don’t know where Amazon is heading with their barcodes policy. We hope they will be reasonable and allow people to list products using legitimate and verifiable barcode numbers (the ones we sell). However, it is possible that Amazon might go crazy and become more restrictive, and stop accepting our barcodes in the future.
We have customers that are continuing to be able to 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 many barcode 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 also because our customers can list their product details alongside the barcode at www.barcodesdatabase.org, which also feeds to other databases. This helps 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 the leading 0 – both versions of the number are the same, and belong to you – but Amazon possibly prefers the 12 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 barcodes invoice invoice – so 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 being able to use ‘Generic’ or ‘un-branded’ in this brand field.
It might also be possible to register with Amazon’s Brand Registry, which can make it easier to have products approved on Amazon, and also reduce the occasional problems with barcodes.
Feel free to make contact if you have any questions.