Are there any exceptions to using UPC/EAN's (aka: GTIN's) on Amazon.com?
Yes, Amazon is an entirely custom, privately-coded, online P.O.S. system & database, because of this 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 percentage of amazon sellers (We estimate less then 1%). As a seller with amazon you will be required to know what is required of you by amazon to work within their custom ecosystem and your specific seller program.
Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list of exceptions, these are simply the most common errors & oversights that we are aware of amazon sellers making. The responsibility is on the seller to verify with amazon before purchasing GTIN's.
- Books / Audiobooks - If you are selling a book you may be required to have an ISBN. ISBN's are not UPC/EAN's, Most books already have an ISBN from the author/publisher. More at: www.ISBN.org
- Selling Major Brands - Major brands may have existing contracts or agreements with amazon to not allow other sellers to list items using their brand name. Example: Nike / Apple / GE / Microsoft etc. If you attempt to list a major brand name in the brand field and then try using your new GTIN with that brand name, it will not work. This is because your barcode (while being valid) is not one of that brand's barcode numbers. Amazon is trying to keep sellers from pretending to be other brands and mislead consumers with fake-branded products.
- Brand Registered - Seller 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. For more info on this contact Amazon directly.
- 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 requirements (listed above). Please read the terms that Amazon provides you to assure your listings are not affected by their GTIN policy changes.
- Product Bundles - If you are listing a branded item for sale that does not exist, like a popular brands items in 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 amazon's rule on the matter. The Amazon approved work-around is to list your company name (or personal brand/DBA) in the brand field and then list the major brand's name in the item description. 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, but 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at: 1-877-263-1343 option 1.