As an Amazon seller, you’ll be used to hearing the experts talk about barcodes 24/7. The Amazon system is barcode driven, hence the consistent emphasis on their importance. If you’re new to the Amazon and retail game, then you might be thinking, “what is a barcode?”. The answer is simple, a barcode is a unique code that is applied to all products sold in retail. Have a peek in your food cupboard, and you’ll probably identify one on all of your products. The barcode system enables retailers to identify what the product is with a straightforward scan - it’s as easy as that.
So, why are they so important to Amazon? Amazon relies on barcodes from the start to finish of the retail journey, from setting your products up in the catalogue to inventory management in the warehouse. Amazon uses barcodes to receive stock and to help the team in the Fulfilment Centre to pick and pack your products, whilst ensuring that the right product is sent out with the correct order.
Three types of barcodes that are useful for an Amazon seller to know are GTINs (Global Trade Item Number), EANs (mainly used in Europe) and UPCs (mainly used in North America). All barcodes can be used globally, regardless if they are an EAN or UPC, it’s just a case of preference.
Whether you’re an experienced Amazon seller or a newcomer to the market, then you’ll soon find out that Amazon has strict requirements to which you must adhere. Having a barcode clearly stuck onto your product is one of them. Your barcode must be in a readable format for it to be scanned. If they’re smudged, not stuck on correctly, or overlap the edge of the product, then they will be unidentifiable in the system.
With a catalogue as vast as Amazon’s, there is no way that an individual would be able to identify products without a unique barcode. The important thing to remember is that barcodes must be unique to a product and cannot be generated by a business itself. If a company generates codes for itself, then they run the risk of Amazon rejecting them. There is also the possibility that the code is already a part of the Amazon catalogue and linked to an existing product.
If you are unsure where to obtain barcodes, then fear not, there are a plethora of sources where you can obtain them. The company most brands work with is GS1. If you decide to look elsewhere, then make sure you go through a credible source to guarantee their authenticity.
Exemptions to barcodes on Amazon are rare. Sadly, major brands can’t be exempt, however, if you run a private label or sell a specialised product then you may be in luck. Amazon works on a case-by-case basis, following an application process.
To apply for a barcode exemption, firstly log into Seller Central, go to the ‘Inventory tab’ in the menu bar and select ‘add a product’. Secondly, scroll down to the ‘What’s a GTIN?’ section and select ‘learn more’.
The next step is completing a form, see the example below. A one-time process, exemptions are provided at the category and brand level, so you won’t have to request an exemption for every single product. The application begins with Amazon checking to see whether you are eligible for exemption, i.e. that you are not selling branded goods that already have an approved barcode with GS1. If you pass the first stage, then you will be asked to provide evidence to the Amazon team by sharing the product name and uploading multiple lifestyle images of the product. Once deliberated, you will receive an answer within your case log.
If you’re approved within the application process, then you can successfully set up your products without a barcode. When adding your products, it’s crucial that you add the brand name exactly how it appears in your exemption request, and that you select the identical category. If the data differs between the product set-up and the application form then the system will not be able to detect the exemption and will reject your product set-up. Whether you’re setting up your products manually, or by bulk via flat-file, make sure that you leave the product ID and product ID type blank.
Amazon’s barcode system is crucial to the company’s internal workings and success, so, whether you’re a first-time seller or an experienced Amazon guru, it’s essential that your barcodes are up to scratch. To master the art of barcodes, you must ensure that your products are labelled with a clear, legible and unique code that has been generated by a third-party platform, aiding those in the fulfilment centre and helping the smooth-running of the system. The exemption process takes time, so we would suggest having your product images at hand, and ready to upload to speed up the exercise. Barcodes are as crucial to you as they are to Amazon; so take time to check your codes, follow your eCommerce Nurse Guide, and you’ll be set up and ready to go in no time.