Any product sold on Amazon must have its own unique GTIN—global trade item number. But if you don’t understand GTINs, or don’t know how to properly acquire them for your products, you could cause quite the headache with your Amazon FBA store.
Today, I’m going to show you three most common GTIN mistakes when it comes to selling on Amazon FBA, as well as how to fix them.
Before we go any further, allow me to clarify a few commonly confused terms: GTINs are required of most all products for sale around the world. Sellers in Amazon’s US marketplace are likely familiar with UPCs—Universal Product Codes, 12-digit GTINs used throughout the US and Canada. Europe and other global marketplaces use the EAN—European Article Number, which is a 13-digit GTIN. Both UPCs and EANs are traditionally associated with barcodes even though you’re only required to have a GTIN number (and not a barcode necessarily) when you sell on Amazon.
1. You used a barcode NOT from GS1.
Imagine this scenario: You buy a single, low cost GTIN from Easy Barcode LTD for your scented candle product.
Or maybe you bought a bulk set off of eBay.
You create that product’s Amazon listing and you categorize your product under the Home & Kitchen category with a niche subcategory of jar candles. You make sales, all is well.
And then your sales just suddenly halt.
You check your inventory—you’re not out of stock at all. You check your pay-per-click advertising and all is running as it should. So what’s the issue?
Amazon has scanned your GTIN that you bought off a random barcode site. And since the barcode you purchased was—without your knowledge—initially created for a car’s serpentine belt, Amazon has lobbed your candle in the Automotive category and the niche subcategory Serpentine Belts, right out from underneath you!
If I know one thing for certain it’s that candle shoppers are not looking in the autoparts section.
(This is an actual scenario—albeit with different products—that one of our students went through.)
That’s not great, but it’s better than this other, completely viable scenario:
When Amazon scans your GTIN, they not only find that the GTIN is for an automotive part, but also that your candle product is NOT an autopart. Amazon suppresses your listing, making it completely invisible to shoppers.
The ultimate solution is to only purchase your GTINs from GS1 so that they’re always completely authentic and accurate to your product.
However, if either of the above scenarios come to life, there is only one option: to correct the issue through GS1.
GS1 is a global standards, not-for-profit, member-driven organization that regulates GTINs. GS1 is used globally and is recognized by around 115 organizations worldwide. Amazon uses the GS1 database to verify all of its products and their sellers.
It can cost a bit more for GTINs from GS1 versus Easy Barcode LTD or eBay, however buying from GS1 is the correct way to do things. It is also the only way that you can guarantee that your GTINs are actually associated with your specific products.
GS1 will help you get your GTIN issue sorted out, but it’s not as easy as sending an email.
You will have to purchase new GTINs from GS1 to re-register your products correctly. GS1 cannot transfer GTINs. So if your candle product has an automotive GTIN, GS1 cannot simply take that number and reassign it, ergo you essentially have to purchase your GTIN twice.
And this process will require lots of time, the most valuable resource, especially when it comes to your business.
For starters, once you outfit your listing with a GTIN, there’s no changing it. You must end the current listing and create a new one. But the wasted time doesn’t necessarily stop there.
If you’ve had your old GTIN printed on your product packaging, that’s more time and money spent redoing your packaging with the new label. Let’s hope you didn’t also print the GTIN on your actual product
And you will also have to work the situation out with Amazon, which just adds to this growing timeline.
When it comes to your Amazon FBA business, wasted time is money and effort down the drain.
This is why it’s so essential to do Amazon FBA right the first time.
That’s where we come in. Our Amazon FBA Mastery membership will coach you along every step of your ecommerce journey. Visit JOD.com/freedom to learn all the ways Just One Dime can help you get unstuck and support you as you achieve your goals.
2. A hijacker guessed your barcode number.
The previous scenario(s) can be avoided by purchasing directly from GS1. But what if you did that…and there’s still a problem??
An Amazon seller—let’s call him Bobby McGee—decided to not purchase his own GTIN, but rather get one “for free” by making up his own string of numbers at random. Bobby then listed his product for sale on Amazon and, since that GTIN was not in use when he created his listing, Bobby’s in the clear.
Now you purchase your own GTIN from GS1, and it happens to be the exact same number that Bobby made up on a whim.
Even though Bobby did not come by his GTIN legally, when you try to list your product with your legitimate GTIN, Amazon thinks it’s Bobby’s and that you’re in the wrong!
Report Bobby to Amazon.
Send Amazon a copy of your product’s GTIN along with your GTIN certificate from GS1. You receive the GTIN certificate from GS1 via email when you first buy your GTIN. This proves that your product and brand are the entities truly associated with that GTIN, not Bobby’s.
3. Seller Central flagged your barcode with a brand name error.
If you sell multiple product lines, you might have multiple brand names underneath your greater company name.
For example, let’s say you sell electric tea kettles under the name YeeKool. You then decide to launch a line of colorful pool noodles. But those two products are not similar in the slightest, nor will they attract the same audience. As a serious seller, you wouldn’t want your customers to visit your Amazon store and see two totally disparate products. So you create the umbrella company name YeeHoldings LLC and create two brands with two stores underneath it: YeeKool for your tea kettle (and related products) and YeePool for your pool toys.
This is a perfectly viable model, but it could cause some GTIN confusion.
When you buy from GS1, you will register each GTIN purchased under your company’s name.
When you list your products for sale on Amazon, you will list them under your brand’s—or store’s—name.
So if you use a GTIN registered to YeeHoldings LLC to list a pool noodle for your Amazon store YeePool, Amazon’s GTIN validation checker might have a problem.
A lot of sellers think their only option here is to change the company name with which they’ve purchased and registered their GTINs. That is absolutely not the case.
You have to make Amazon aware of all of the brands included under your company name. This can be done with a brand trademark, being brand registered with the brands in question, or our special Just One Dime trick:
Print out your brand’s label and attach it to your product. It might look ridiculous, and that’s OK.
Take a picture of your hand holding the product and make sure that your brand’s label is clearly visible.
Then send that photo to Amazon.
It’s actually fairly simple; you just need to show Amazon that the brand you’re using is a part of your company, which purchased the GTIN in question. As long as they can link your company to the brand you’re trying to list your product and GTIN under, Amazon will clear the issue up lickety-split and all will be resolved.
I hope this piece has helped clarify common GTIN questions and provided solutions for common mistakes. However, it is but a fraction of what we teach in our Amazon FBA Mastery membership.
In 100+ video lessons, our membership will take you through every single step involved in starting and running your very own Amazon FBA store. From building and trademarking your brand name, to launching your first products, to expanding your store off Amazon and beyond, we can guide you through your journey.
Visit JOD.com/apply to speak with a member of our team today to decide if we are the right fit to bring your entrepreneurial dreams to life so that you can build margin to do the things you love with the people you love.
What issues are you having with GTINs and barcodes? Let me know in the comments.