What You Need to Know about the New Single GTIN

By Michelle Covey, Vice President, Partnerships, GS1 US

The acronyms GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and U.P.C. (Universal Product Code) appear frequently in Amazon Seller Central, signifying that these identifiers must be an important part of a successful listing. But for many small businesses, knowing what these mean has required additional education and time.

Recently, GS1 US, the information standards organization, expanded our product identification offering to make this critical part of the listing process easier for microbusinesses that are selling just a few products. On November 9, 2020, GS1 US introduced the single GS1 US GTIN, which can be licensed at a one-time cost of $30, with no renewal fees. Let’s look at the benefits of the new single GS1 US GTIN and how it complements the existing product identification structure available to support growing e-commerce businesses.

What is the single GS1 US GTIN?

GTINs are the numbers encoded into a U.P.C. barcode that uniquely identify a product when it is listed online or is read by a barcode scanner. Many online marketplaces like Amazon require GS1 US issued GTINs because they are assured through the GS1 system that the identifiers are only being used by one company. With the proper unique product identification, a product can also be surfaced in more search results leading to increased sales and loyalty.

The new single GS1 US GTIN is designed to be a flexible option to authentically identify individual products and was developed in response to the explosion of e-commerce opportunities available today. It is ideal for first-time product launchers who are just getting started with product creation.  Furthermore, for businesses slowly ramping up the number of products they want to list, additional GTINs can be licensed at a pace that works for them.

A business that licenses an individual GTIN will automatically be included in the GS1 Global Registry, a database that many retailers and online marketplaces use to verify product identification and confirm product authenticity. Also, the single GTIN comes with a free subscription to GS1 US Data Hub | Product, where business owners can maintain GTINs and share product information with trading partners.

What is the GS1 Company Prefix?

For businesses that plan to launch 10 or more products or product variations, another option is to license a GS1 Company Prefix, which allows brands to create authentic GTINs in bundles of 10, 100, and other bulk quantities. The GS1 Company Prefix represents the first few numbers of the product GTIN and is what links a brand to a product.

There are many benefits to licensing a GS1 Company Prefix. It helps sellers manage their growth and diversify their business long term. The prefix allows businesses to create additional identifiers often used in retail supply chain business processes, such as the Serialized Shipping Container Code (SSCC) or a GS1-label to identify cartons exchanged between trading partners.

What’s right for your business?

GS1 US offers an estimator tool, which helps business owners determine which option is right for them– single GS1 US GTIN or a GS1 Company Prefix –based on how many products they have, how many variations of the product there are, and how they anticipate their company will grow in the future.

It’s important to note that in addition to GS1 US, there are other companies from whom business can obtain barcodes. These other companies operate outside of the GS1 system and typically resell barcodes issued to other businesses. As a result, barcodes obtained from resellers are not listed in GS1’s database or GS1 US Data Hub–both of which are relied upon by retailers. Purchasing reseller barcodes may mean a company is labeling its product with another company’s identification number—a short term solution that, in the long run, can cause confusion with retail partners, lead to unnecessary costs associated with relabeling products and hinder company growth. Amazon states in its seller guidelines that their product managers will check all GTINs provided to them against the GS1 database and sellers may be delisted if the numbers are found to be invalid.

Ultimately, Amazon and other online marketplaces are more likely to work with brands long term if they know the business has trustworthy and valid product identification. Create a better shopping experience and cultivate retailer relationships by educating yourself on GS1 identifiers and other data standards. Visit https://www.gs1us.org for more information and resources.

Michelle Covey

Michelle Covey is a retail supply chain expert and the Vice President of Partnerships at GS1 US. She oversees all external partner relationships and programs designed to support efficient and accurate GS1 Standards implementation for companies of all sizes.