If you’re like many small startup manufacturers or entrepreneurs, you’ve needed to ask yourself the obvious question when deciding to sell on Amazon.com: Where should I get my UPC codes for Amazon? The ultimate answer is GS1, the official distributor for UPC codes in the United states.
Initially, smaller manufacturers, distributors and Amazon sellers were simply able to purchase UPC codes from a number of “resellers”, and Amazon only cared that the UPC codes were unique to the product and of legitimate origin. Purchasing UPC codes from GS1, the official distributor of UPC codes in the U.S., was extremely costly and required a significant capital investment and commitment, as well as ongoing annual fees to maintain their use.
However, in the past couple of years a handful of changes have been made making it easier for distributors and manufacturers to go the legitimate route. Specifically, GS1 reduced their introductory rate and associated UPC codes providing a scalable investment. As of the writing of this article, an initial investment for 10 UPC codes was just $250 with an annual renewal fee of only $50. This down from a significant and hefty $1,500 investment only a few years before.
As of 2002, GS1 began including language in their agreement that states that the company purchasing UPC codes will use them only for their company, effectively prohibiting the resale of UPC codes. Amazon has also updated their internal information and recommends that sellers should not buy from any organization other than GS1.
In addition, Amazon is now checking the GS1 registry to ensure not only that the UPC codes are valid, but that they belong to the company listed on the Amazon account. This is especially pertinent for sellers looking to activate Brand Registry for their products. Amazon will continue to update their algorithms to ensure authenticity of product UPC codes.
“The validity of a Product ID is checked against the GS1 GEPIR and ISBN.org databases. If your Product ID is not registered with GS1 then the linked ASIN will be suppressed and it may result in removal of your product creation privileges.” – Amazon Policy Update, October 2017
The benefits of purchasing UPC codes directly from GS1 are numerous. First and foremost, you will get a UPC Company Prefix unique to your company or brand. When buying a UPC code from a reseller, all products purchased from that reseller will have the same company prefix, even though they are all manufactured by completely different organizations. This can create unnecessary complications, especially when selling your products in certain retail stores and outlets or dealing overseas.
Whether you’re launching a branded business with thousands of SKU’s or an individual seller needing unique UPC codes for Amazon Bundles or a small-quantity manufactured product, we highly recommend purchasing UPC codes directly from the source.