Are there any exceptions to using a normal barcodes (UPC/EAN's, aka: GTIN's) on Amazon?
Yes, Amazon is an entirely custom, privately-coded, online P.O.S. system & database, there are many exceptions that only apply with them and may not be in line with GS1's international standards. Thankfully these exceptions only apply to a very small minority of sellers. As a seller with amazon you will be required to know what is required of you by amazon to work within their custom, private ecosystem and seller channel.
Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list of exceptions, these are simply the most common errors & oversights that we are aware of sellers making. The responsibility is on the seller to verify with amazon before purchasing GTIN's.
- Books / ISBN's - If you are selling a book you may be required to have an ISBN vs a UPC/EAN, most books already have an ISBN from the author/publisher.
- Branding - Major brands may have existing contracts or agreements with amazon to not allow other sellers to list items using their brand name. Examples: Nike / Apple / GE / Microsoft etc. If you attempt to list a major brand name in the brand field and then try using your valid, legal GTIN with that brand name, it will not work. This is because your bar code (while being valid) is not that brand's bar code number. Amazon is trying to keep sellers from pretending to be other brands and mislead consumers with fake-branded products.
- Brand Registration / Brand Registered Program - As of mid-March (2018) this amazon-only seller program newly requires renting/licensing GTIN's (meaning you cannot buy/own your own GTIN's and use them on amazon). This very small seller group is forced to rent codes annually from GS1 directly. We believe this is due to amazon joining the board of directors of GS1 in 2016. In addition to amazon requiring that you rent your GTIN's from GS1 they also require you to have both copyrights & trademarks on your brand to be apart of this program.
- Legacy Brand Registered Sellers - From what we have seen past listings are grandfathered into this program and are not under the new rules, but any new listings will be under their new set of stricter requirements. Please read the terms that Amazon provides you in detail to assure your listings are not affected by this change.
- Some Product Bundles - If you are listing an item for sale that does not exist, like a bundle, and you try and use a major brand's name in the brand field you will be blocked. This is because you are not that brand, nor is your bar code number from that brand. This is normal and legal. The Amazon approved work-around is to list your company name (or personal brand) in the brand field and list the major brand name in the item description only. Example: This way consumers know that they are not buying a Nike bundle, but a "Bob's Shoe Mart" bundle that includes two Nike products. Some sellers do not wish to lose "rankings" by not having the major brand name not be in the brand field, this is what some would call, tough cookies, as those are Amazon's specific rules that they coded into their database.
At the end of the day barcodes (GTIN's) are incredibly simple identification numbers, Amazon's "site/system" however, is not quite as simple. Be aware of this before beginning your Amazon seller experience.
If you have any doubts or concerns that are Amazon related, you are best served contacting Amazon directly. If they are specifically barcode related and do not involve amazon's custom system, contact us at: email@example.com or by phone at: 1-877-263-1343 option 1.