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If you’re an eCommerce merchant currently marketing products online, you’re well aware of dealing with the GTIN issue. Most brands understand that including GTINs within their product data feed is beneficial to increase the accuracy of their product listing information.

The challenge though is finding or creating missing GTINs for a large number of items.
Let’s take a look at what is a GTIN code, why is important,  and what optimized product feeds can do for you when advertising your products on Google, Amazon, and eBay.

What is a GTIN

GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number created by GS1. GSI manages the barcode standard used by retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers. It’s a globally unique number that is used to identify products. It has 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits depending on the region.

In the case of online marketing, digital channels use these unique identifiers to establish a product’s uniqueness and help you meet important criteria to better advertise your products online.

How is a GTIN structured?

GTINs combine a company prefix, item reference, and a calculated check digit.

      • UPC (in North America / GTIN-12): 12-digit number like 323456789012; 8-digit UPC-E codes should be converted to 12-digit codes
      • EAN (in Europe / GTIN-13): 13-digit number like 3001234567892
      • JAN (in Japan / GTIN-13): 8 or 13-digit numbers like 49123456 or 4901234567894
      • ISBN (for books): 10 or 13-digit numbers like 1455582344 or 978-1455582341. If you have both, only include the 13-digit number. ISBN-10 is deprecated and should be converted to ISBN-13.
      • UPC ITF-14 (for multipacks / GTIN-14): 14-digit number like 10856435001702.

Why use GTIN codes

Proving the correct Gtin numbers helps Google to properly classify all of your products in their catalog. The more relevant information in your product ads, the closer you get to relevant search queries and ultimately reach potential buyers to purchase your products.

GTINs are also important as they help you list more effectively on Google Shopping and other marketplace giants such as Amazon and eBay Let’s take a closer look at the requirements needed.

Online channels requiring GTINs for products advertising

Google Shopping

In rare cases where a brand name product has no unique product identifier (e.g., replacement parts), provide this information explicitly in your feed by specifying the ‘identifier exists’ attribute for that item with a value of ‘FALSE’. If an identifier exists for the item but you don’t have it, it’s important to add the correct identifier to your feed instead of using the ‘identifier exists’ attribute. In some cases, GTINs are not required. Used items including custom, vintage, and handmade items do not need a GTIN.

eBay

eBay is following Google’s lead about GTIN codes and has said that new listings of branded items in new condition are required to include GTINs.

.It’s possible to get around the requirement by typing in “does not apply” in the product identifier field but eBay warns that this should be done only for products that don’t have a GTIN.
If you do this for a product that does have one, then you will lose visibility within the search results.

On their website, eBay states:  “We strongly recommend sellers use “Does not apply” only when product identifiers truly do not exist to maintain visibility and remain competitive.

Amazon

Amazon requires GTINs for the entire fashion category including clothing, accessories, and footwear.
This is what they state on their website:

“The basis for accurate product page creation and product matching is product identifiers outside of the Amazon.com system. For most product categories, sellers are required to use an industry-standard product identifier when creating new pages in the Amazon.com catalog. These product identifiers are part of a system called GTINs, or Global Trade Item Numbers.

The most common GTIN code used to create Amazon.com catalog pages is UPCs, ISBNs, and EANs. Universal Product Codes (UPCs), International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), and European Article Numbers (EANs) are unique codes used to identify a particular item. Amazon uses these codes and numbers to identify the exact item you wish to sell.”

How to resolve invalid GTIN codes

To resolve invalid GTINs, Google Shopping recommends the following advice on their website: “Validate your product identifier and check digit at GS1.
For more information about the validation of GTINs, refer to the GTIN Validation Guide edited by GS1.”

Where to find Gtin Number

Where to find GTIN

There is no global database of GTINs for all products. Here are some ways to find GTIN codes for your products:

        •   Find the GTIN barcode on the manufacturer’s packaging
        •   Ask your supplier for them
        •   Work with your manufacturer to source your product’s GTINs or      create them
        •   Go to Google Shopping:
          • Search for your product in Google Shopping.
          • If there is already more than one seller for your item you can find the GTIN by clicking on the “compare prices” button on the product detail page.   
          • Click on “compare prices from [n] stores” and scroll down below the reviews to “Product Details”. The GTIN is listed under the product details.
        • Hire an outside company to source GTINs for you.
          • This is a good option if you already have other identifiers like MPN codes. Most companies that offer this service will not guarantee they can deliver all product GTINs but they can expedite the process of sourcing your GTINs

If you are looking for other GTIN code resources, here is a helpful list:

Getting your GTINs in order is an important part of optimizing your product feed for better listing. Highstreet.io knows that.  Discover how to list your products effectively and set up your marketing campaigns for success.  Get in touch to have your product feeds optimized!