UPC Barcodes & Amazon: What You Need to Know

Barcodes are widely used within business and manufacturing so that sellers can identify their products within tracking and computer systems. The most common type of barcode used in the United States is a UPC or Universal Product Code. UPC barcodes come with a product identification number known as a GTIN or Global Trade Item Number; this is the number below the black lines and white spaces of a barcode. It is common knowledge that UPC barcodes and GTINs are used on in-store products. We see them everywhere from the supermarket to retail stores. But you may not know that UPC barcodes and GTINs also have many uses for online selling. Just like in brick-and-mortar stores, online businesses need barcodes and identification numbers to distinguish one product from another in the marketplace. Here we’re breaking down how sellers can license UPC barcodes and GTINs, their uses for the Amazon platform, and how they can enhance your online business.

Where to get uPC barcodes

Amazon requires all sellers to have unique product identifiers for the items they wish to list on the platform. If you are listing new products on Amazon that are not currently a part of the Amazon catalog, you will need to obtain UPC barcodes and GTINs. Many sites claim to sell UPC barcodes. However, business owners must be wary of these as they may not meet retailer requirements and you could wind up with used barcodes. If Amazon catches a seller using used barcodes, they can be removed from the platform. Thus, to ensure you obtain valid UPC barcodes, many experts recommend the GS1 US website


GS1 is a not-for-profit international organization best known as the administrator of the UPC barcode. There are more than 110 GS1 organizations around the world, with GS1 US being one of the largest and the organization that serves the US business community. GS1 US works to promote high-quality data standards that support the supply chain in selling both in stores and online. GS1 US allows businesses to uniquely identify their products, locations, and more as well as share that information. Most companies today use GS1 GTINs because they link a company directly to the product being sold.


GS1 offers various options for buying UPC barcodes and GTINs that reflect different stages in your business. If you are just starting out, you can buy single GS1 US GTINs which will uniquely identify individual retail products you have listed online. This is a great option if you only have a few listed products that require UPC barcodes. More advanced sellers can opt for the GS1 Company Prefix, which will give you multiple barcodes at once and give you access to advanced features like identifying higher-levels of packaging. A GS1 prefix is ideal for companies with growing product lines that will eventually require more UPC barcodes.


When buying GS1 UPC barcodes and GTINs, sellers will have to estimate how many barcodes they’ll need and which types of product packaging they’ll be using. Amazon routinely checks the barcodes sellers add to ensure they are legitimate and searchable within the GS1 database, so sellers should ensure they are applying for UPC barcodes only through GS1 US. If you did not manufacture the products yourself that you are listing on Amazon, instead of buying new UPC barcodes you can simply request them from the manufacturer.


One use for UPC barcodes and GTINs in Amazon selling is that they improve SEO. This is because the identification numbers give search engines additional information about a product, helping the engines match the product to the relevant customer search. According to the Google Merchant Center, GTINs enhance SEO because they allow Google to understand exactly what product you’re selling, which allows them to boost ad performance by adding relevant information.


Online marketplaces like Amazon recognize the importance of product information to the shopper experience. Some shoppers today will give up on online shopping altogether if they can’t find the information they’re looking for on the site. With the proper unique product identification, a product can be surfaced in more search results leading to increased sales and customer loyalty. Online marketplaces like Amazon are also more likely to work with sellers long-term if they can ensure consistency between a product’s physical and digital presence with proper GTIN usage.


Many large retailers like Amazon require sellers to provide GTINs because they help them verify the authenticity of products. Amazon will review your products for authenticity by checking the UPC barcodes against the GS1 database. With GS1 barcodes and GTINs, your company will be listed in the database as the brand owner of the barcodes you purchased. If Amazon finds that you are not the owner of the barcodes you are using, you risk getting suspended or even removed altogether as a seller on the platform. Amazon uses GS1 to help determine the authenticity of barcodes because they are the global authority on product and company identification.

Universal use

One major benefit of using UPC barcodes on Amazon is that they are accepted universally. The barcode you need for your product on Amazon is the same barcode you’ll need to list your product on another retailer’s website and in retail stores. Many companies already have internal product identification numbers or SKUs. And Amazon has its own identification numbers for products listed on the Amazon catalog known as ASINs. But SKUs and ASINs on Amazon do not have an application within the universal marketplace and cannot be identified outside of the organization’s own system. The reason UPCs are so useful is that they can be universally identified by multiple retailers in the marketplace as well as by logistics partners. Thus, from one organization and system to the next, a UPC can be scanned and the information will transfer. Using GS1 UPC barcodes simplifies product identification and allows sellers to have the same identifiers on multiple eCommerce platforms.  


All in all, UPC barcodes and GTINs have become the standard for Amazon as well as the for the majority of online marketplaces in North America. Buying GS1 UPC barcodes for your Amazon products will allow your products to be easily identified and linked to your brand, provide the Amazon search engine with more information about your product, and demonstrate that your company has an organized system for inventory. Whether you’re selling in stores or online, GS1 UPC barcodes are the best way to go to ensure your products attain universal validity and use in the marketplace. If you’re just starting out on Amazon, getting your UPC barcodes now will allow your online business to grow seamlessly on the platform and on any other platform you wish to sell on. Good luck!