If you’re an eCommerce merchant currently marketing products online, the GTIN issue is one you’re well aware of. Most brands understand that including GTINs within their product data feed is beneficial for increasing the accuracy of their product listing information. The challenge is finding or creating missing GTINs for a large number of items. Is it worth it? Google, Amazon and eBay think so.
What online channels require GTINs to advertise products?
Google Shopping has recently made it mandatory to include product GTINs for all brand name products that are sold by multiple merchants using ads targeted to the following countries: Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK or the US.
What if I don’t have a Unique Product Identifier? Google states on their website “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 is following Google’s lead about GTINs and has said that new listings of branded items in new condition are required to include them. 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. eBay states on their website: “We strongly recommend sellers use “Does not apply” only when product identifiers truly do not exist to maintain visibility and remain competitive.
Amazon requires GTINs for the entire fashion category including clothing, accessories, and footwear. 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 GTINs used to create Amazon.com catalog pages are 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.”
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.
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 number like 49123456 or 4901234567894
- ISBN (for books): 10 or 13-digit number like 1455582344 or 978-1455582341. If you have both, only include the 13-digit number. ISBN-10 are deprecated and should be converted to ISBN-13.
- UPC ITF-14 (for multipacks / GTIN-14): 14-digit number like 10856435001702.
Where do I resolve invalid GTINs?
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 do I find GTINs?
There is no global database of GTINs for all products. Here are some ways to find GTINs 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.
Helpful GTIN resources
Highstreet.io knows getting your GTINs in order is an important part of optimizing your product feed to list your products and execute marketing campaigns.
Having issues finding your GTINs? Depending on your location and business need Highstreet.io can refer you to companies that can help you achieve this task faster. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.