Latest Amazon Barcode Requirements
If you are planning to sell or currently sell your product/s through Amazon, it’s important to note that their barcode policy has recently changed. Amazon uses barcode numbers (13-digit EAN or 12-digit UPC) as unique product identifiers. In the past, Amazon poorly controlled the use of barcode numbers. 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, if their number had been stolen by someone else.
Recently, Amazon seems to be trying to stop branded products (big brands) being listed on Amazon using barcode numbers other than the original brand – possibly to stop pirating, or illegal listings. To enforce this, Amazon has imposed tighter controls with barcode numbers – although the implementation of this policy seems to vary a lot. We recently spoke with someone who has three products listed on Amazon using barcodes from International Barcodes Network. Amazon had 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 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. However, it is possible that Amazon might go crazy and become more restrictive, and stop accepting some barcodes in the future – hopefully, this won’t happen.
How does this affect me? And what barcodes should I be buying?
The International Barcodes Network has customers that are continuing to use their barcode numbers to list their products on Amazon. We presume that is because if Amazon checks the numbers (and it is unclear whether they check many barcode numbers), then those 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). Customers are also able to list their product details alongside the barcode at www.barcodesdatabase.org, which also feeds to other databases. Both of these help the customers prove to Amazon that the barcode numbers are legitimate.
The International Barcodes Network offers a 60-day money-back guarantee. Once you buy the barcodes and if for some reason find they can’t be used on Amazon (after assistance to get past any minor problems or questions if they arise), then you will be issued a full refund.
You might need to enter the 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 it seems that Amazon prefers the 12-digit version at the moment.
Also, we have been advised that Amazon require your website address (URL) on the barcodes invoice – so it’s important that when you purchase barcodes that you advise your reseller that you would like your website address on the invoice/receipt.
Do I need a barcode number only? Or do I need an image too?
If you have products that you want to list on Amazon, you will need barcode numbers for them. Amazon requires a unique barcode number for each listing on its websites. EAN-13 barcode numbers are perfect for use as Amazon barcodes. Amazon has confirmed that Amazon barcode numbers supplied from International Barcodes Network are acceptable and meet their standards. International Barcode Network has many customers using their barcode numbers on their Amazon products. These Amazon barcode numbers can also be used with other online shops (e.g. CD Baby or Play.com) and in regular retail stores too.
You will need a unique barcode number for each separate listing on Amazon. It is your choice whether to make separate listings for each different variation (size/colour/design) of your product or only to make one listing for your product and get your customers to specify the size/colour after ordering.
If you prefer your barcode in 12-digit UPC-A format (instead of 13-digit EAN-13 format), then you just need to confirm this when making your order. International Barcode Network can supply Amazon barcode numbers as either 13-digit EAN barcodes or as 12-digit UPC barcodes.
If you are storing and dispatching your products yourself, you will only need a 13-digit EAN (or 12-digit UPC-A) barcode number. However, if Amazon is storing and dispatching your products for you, then you will also need a barcode image to put onto your product packaging or label. A ‘barcode image’ is the actual barcode picture that gets decoded by scanning machines (i.e. vertical black bars & spaces with the barcode number underneath). If you require the barcode images as well, then you would need to buy a “Barcode Package”.
How do I use my barcode number (and image) on Amazon?
Once you have placed your order, your Amazon barcode numbers will be emailed to you. You can then assign your barcodes to your products, and start listing your products on Amazon using these barcode numbers. You can begin using your barcode numbers on Amazon straight away – all you need to do is type the barcode number into the form when making a listing for your product on Amazon. Later, Amazon will assign their identification number – an ASIN (an Amazon Standard Identification Number) – to your product.
If you need barcode images for your number, you will be sent your barcode images via email in 5 different digital formats (eps, tiff, bmp, pdf & jpeg). You can choose which format you prefer, and put the barcode on your product packaging or label, and then send your products to Amazon, who will store and dispatch your products for you.