Barcodes for Amazon
Barcodes on Amazon FBA
Barcodes seem to be one of the areas of confusion for beginners on Amazon. On this blog we will be talking about the mistakes and misconceptions when it comes to UPC, FNSKU.
Although barcodes play a large role in daily lives, many people don’t know how they actually work.
So what is a UPC barcode? It is how products sold around the world at retail locations. They are an identification system. Every product has its own unique UPC barcode. No two products will ever have the same UPC barcode. It allows the retailer the ability to know what you purchased and what to charge the customer when you checkout an item. Every product will be different, even if it is the same product but is packaged differently. For example; different quantities of milk will have different bar codes. Example; 1 liter to 2 liters (1 gallon to 2 gallons).
All products from the same line will have the same UPC barcode. Variations of the product will have variations of the UPC barcode.
Product Identification Basics – GTIN’s
GTIN’s Global Trade Identification Number’s is the number that every product abides by. They are 14 digits. They are needed for make barcodes for non Amazon outlets like Walmart.
There are GTIN that are 12,13,8,14 characters long. Both UPC’s and EAN’s are types of GTIN’s. Bar codes are a quick way of scanning your product.
In North America the standard is UPC Universal Product code that are 12 digits.. An EAN is the same thing as a UPC barcode. EAN’s just have 13 digits instead of 12 with the UPC barcode.
Barcodes are the most important because they are the scanable code associated with the UPC or GTIN.
UPC barcodes and FNSKU barcodes
If you are selling private label products on Amazon. You are required to have Amazon’s barcode which is an FNSKU (Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit). This bar code allows Amazon to identify unique products that are being shipped into the Amazon Fulfillment Centers. FNSKU is Amazons own bar code system to mange their inventory.
So the question arises, why are you required to enter a UPC barcode when you are creating a product listing.
When you are selling private label products. You may be selling generic products that are manufactured by a supplier. When they are originally sent out there probably isn’t a UPC barcode associated with the product. Hundreds or thousands of other sellers around the world could be selling the exact same product and you need to identify your product as your own.
Major brands like Nike or Adidas have already attached their UPC barcodes to their products and printed on the package. So you will need to do the same with your products as well.
So you need to purchase the UPC barcode and include it in the listing. Then Amazon will integrate that into their FNSKU. The new FNSKU barcode is required to go on each one of your units.
Once you enter the UPC barcode into you listing you will never need it again. It is the FNSKU that you will need to have placed or printed on each unit. The common misconception again is that if you have 500 units of a product you need to have 500 UPC barcodes. Every product has its own unique barcode, not every unit of a product. The example the product Coke. Every coke bottle has the same UPC bar code on it. The bar code only changes when the product changes. For example from Coke to Diet Coke. Maybe the packaging changes from 1 liter to 2 liters.
So if you order 500 wallets and they are all exactly the same then you will only need one UPC code. That UPC barcode will then get converted to an FNSKU barcode. This same FNSKU barcode will go on every wallet.
UPC barcode variations
Now if you have a variation you are going to need a new UPC barcode for each variation. For instance, if you had a 3 pocket wallet and 5 pocket wallet. Then each of these would need a different UPC barcode and different FNSKU. Again, if the color of the wallet changed from brown to black, you would need a different UPC barcode. In reference to the topic of bundling. You do not need to pay for UPC barcodes associated with every item in your bundle. You just need to have one associated with the entire bundle. When you buy a case of Coke you don’t need to scan every can of coke. It just scans. The same thing happens here.
If you are doing retail arbitrage and purchasing products from big retailer or discounted retailers.
If you wish to co-mingle your units with other peoples then you don’t need to put FNSKU on each unit. We recommend just using the original UPC barcode and putting the FNSKU barcode over the UPC barcode in this case. Then Amazon knows which ones are yours and it limits confusion on the UPC barcode.
So you only need to buy a UPC barcode if you are doing private labeling. So where do you buy UPC barcodes?
Amazon’s terms of service says they are verified against the GS1 database and Amazon recommends that you buy directly from the GS1 and not 3rd party sellers.
For $250 you can buy directly from GS1. The problem is that there is a $50 annual fee. There are also 3rd party resellers that are established. You just want to make sure these 3rd party resellers are legitimate.
You will need to have your UPC barcode before your product is manufactured because you will want to download the FNSKU barcode and send to the manufacturer to be placed on the product.
You can always fake the information and update the listing down the line in order to obtain the FNSKU before the product is manufactured.
Another good thing to do is include the country of origin onto the FNSKU label. The country of origin is required by US customs as well.
This will minimize the manufacturers work. If you are having a packaging designer design the packaging you can have them include the FNSKU label into the packaging.
GS1 and UPC barcodes
GS1 is the first place to go about creating a barcode. They are the owners of barcodes. They are in 100 countries. GS1 is the regulator to the barcode market. They sell the prefixes to the full number. The last few numbers are allowing you to place different products in those spots.
A good resource for this is http://www.gs1.org/check-digit-calculator
This tool allows you to verify UPC’s. If you ever buy a UPC verify with this tools. If it doesn’t come back with the code you were provided, it is not valid. Amazon will validate especially if you are a larger brand.
This is important because if Amazon checks, they will see that the UPC is not accurate. You can also check other brands. It can provide some further insight into the structure of your competition. When you are bundling a bigger brand and the UPC does not match that brand, Amazon can take your listing down. If you fabricate your UPC, Amazon will suspend your account.
A cheap option for UPC’s are https://cheap-upc-barcode.com/. This should be used only for test products. Go to the site and purchase UPCs. GS1 is fairly expensive so you may not want to pay for the expensive barcodes. GS1 will also charge you an annual renewal fee. If you do not buy from GS1 it is important to check with the digit calculator continually for your listing to make sure no one else is using that UPC.,
What you need to have before you buy with the GS1. You will need an LLC or a DBA Name. You will also need an address, phone and email.
Here is a link to a guide.
Keep invoices and other documents in case Amazon gets angry with you. You will want to have that documentation to show them for compliance reasons.
Once you purchase the UPC from GS1 or cheap UPC barcode you can take that to www.barcode-generator.org. Go to create a free UPC-A. Then you can create a barcode and download it and save that image.
If you have Microsoft word you can make a sheet of barcodes. This a good solution to anyone with cash flow problems.