The Truth About Buying UPC Codes

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If you ever wonder why I don’t post daily it is because what should be simple is often incredibly complicated and all the research takes a lot of my time. I then publish the results so others don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

If you sell products -
this post is important to you
.

Amazon has recently started requiring UPC codes for products listed for sale. Genuine Seller wrote a beneficial post about Dealing with Amazon UPC Requirements that anyone who lists unique individual products should read.

UPDATE March 18, 2012: There are only a handful of legitimate UPC barcode providers that have been authorized and verified by George Laurer (inventor of the UPC Barcode).

There is only one company that is legitimate, has the lowest prices and has immediate digital delivery of barcodesNationwide Barcode.

If what you are selling already has a UPC code and you have either a bar code reader or the exact product name you can try to use a UPC database to look up UPC  Codes. You can also try the Keyword.com bar code search.

Why we recommend everyone BOYCOTT AMAZON
They are intentionally risking their employees lives
and created an app to steal buyers from small businesses!

The codes DO make it easier for shoppers to compare prices which can be both good and bad; good because it makes it easy to compare prices and bad because it make is easy to make price the focus when it is NOT what either buyers or sellers should most care about.

This focus on buying cheap is what is destroying our economy and making us all poor! But that is a topic for an entirely different post so see what we can do to change all that is explained in my post Supporting Small Businesses.

This post is about how to buy UPC Codes without overspending or creating issues by buying from the wrong source.

If you have products manufactured that are not unique you are eventually going to need to buy a UPC code for each item if you want to sell at Amazon, on Shopping Comparison sites or in stores.

The very best explanation of the UPC issue is provided by Innovation Hall of Fame Member  George Laurer. Read his information BEFORE you Buy UPC Numbers and what to do if you only need to purchase one UPC number (or a few).

I recommend you use his list of legitimate UPC resellers if you don’t want to register your own.

If you regularly have products manufactured or wish to control the registry of your UPC you should use the official USC registrar GS1US.org. Using them is the only way to have the UPC number registered directly to you.

All sites besides GS1US.org are resellers and the numbers they sell you are registered to them.

The Official GS1US site makes this claim:

“There’s only one U.P.C. barcode that’s accepted by retailers everywhere. And it’s only available from GS1 US.” ~ That is not entirely true ~

Even their own site mentions Solution Partners and articles like this one on buying UPC codes in the Washington Post acknowledge that there are legitimate UPC code resellers where you can buy a few or even buy one UPC code.

There is additional good information in this post about How to Sell your Book at Amazon on Kevin Kelly‘s Cool Tools site and in the comments there. The information Simply BarCodes published on UPC Codes for Amazon.

I also recommend StartUp Nation‘s How to Obtain a UPC Code especially if you are a business selling in traditional brick and mortar stores like Nordstrom or Bloomingdale or any of the other companies that now require them for everything they sell.

If you sell handmade goods or collectibles that do not have UPCs and are unique (one of a kind) follow this UPC advice from SingleFeed:

“Do your best to include these unique identifiers in your product feed, but do not make these numbers up. If you’re selling handmade goods, you will not have MPNs or UPCs. That’s actually ok. If you’re buying your inventory from a distributor/supplier and that product has a real manufacturer, though, you can get MPNs and UPCs. It’s going to take work as not all distributors/suppliers are used to giving out this information, but you have to keep on them to do so.”

This UPC issue is going to affect resellers and merchants on a growing number of channels including Amazon and Google Product Search. See the resources below for additional resources specific to those channels.

SELLING ON AMAZON:

UPC CODES GOOGLE:

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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of GrowMap.com, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.

Comments

  1. Instant UPC Codes says:

    Hello, If you are looking for instantly delivered UPC codes at affordable prices, you should take a moment to check out our website at:

    http://www.instantupccodes.com/

    All orders are processed instantly, no matter what time of day. Also, we are verified by George Laurer and we are an active member at the Authenticated UPC Registration Directory.

  2. Hey folks,
    My company, Nationwide Barcode, is a company that Mr. George Laurer (inventor of the UPC Barcode) recommends. We are the lowest cost legitimate reseller of barcodes, plus we provide graphics, transfer of ownership. We are also the vendor of choice for Pandora Radio as we work with both small businesses and musicians.
    http://www.nationwidebarcode.com
    Buy a Barcode – Barcodes for Amazon, Retail and Music
    Phil Peretz would love you to read ..Leading Digits – UPC-A BarcodesMy Profile

  3. Jesper Brandt says:

    The problem with the UPC requirement is now that eBay sellers are picking top selling products and listing using these UPC codes. So, now Amazon has a lot of spamming on the lstings selling products that don’t match the UPC on the Amaazon ASIN but the sellers just want to sell anything. So, the UPC code requirement although good for mass producede items. Amazon does not requrie UPC in other categories and for collectibles. Anyway, eBay is for collectibles. Or is ebay not even working for unique products anymore?

  4. Barry Osandoval says:

    There’s a great ebook about UPC bar codes at: http://www.mybarcodestore.com

    It explains all about how to get a UPC code, who is authorized to sell them, how to print them, and much more.

  5. We are a small business and trying to enter the Amazon world. Our margins are very small and buying UPC codes is a big hurdle to doing business with Amazon. I’ve seen numerous sites offering “free” upc’s but I’m gathering these are just random numbers and not valid.
    Bottom line, if I only need 5-10 codes what is my cheapest solution?
    Thanks for the article and reading all the comments helped too!

    • Hi Sonia,

      If you’re sure you want to get on Amazon and they require UPC codes for your products you will want to buy them from a legitimate reseller as explained in this post. There are probably additional suggestions in the comments.

      While Amazon is huge if your margins are small they are not what I would recommend. Have you looked into sites like Etsy or other alternatives to eBay?

      Amazon is a hard site to make money from and many of us boycott Amazon because of their evil ways.
      growmap would love you to read ..What If There Was an Easy Way to Get Your Tweets Retweeted? There Is – And It is Fast and FreeMy Profile

      • Hello Gail,

        We are going to just try Amazon for a few months to test the water. It might not be a valuable outlet for us, but as of today, we are willing to give it a try. Being a new website it’s been a slow to build traffic to our site, so hopeful that we can use Amazon to create revenue while we improve our SEO. I do understand the negative feelings that are growing towards Amazon…. small businesses have a HARD time competing!

  6. I will have to disagree with most here. I have sold products on Amazon using an ASIN code..not a UPC code, and get away with it for a very long time now. There’s always a way, kiddies.

  7. Thanks for this great article and for all of the articles you site. I am trying to add a unique product to Amazon and debating the UPC reseller route since I only have one item that needs a UPC. Thanks for the information.
    Edward Logan, DDS would love you to read ..Now Available on AmazonMy Profile

  8. Baryy Osandoval says:

    I did find mybarcodestore.com. It sells certified UPC codes for much less than GS1 does. I bought a few codes there. Great fast service.

  9. If only all our fulfilment Clients had read this article before setting up their stores, our fulfilment centre would run so much more efficiently. Having barcodes is a very good idea for all sellers and suppliers – if they are useful for you, they are likely to be useful for someone else in the supply chain.
    James would love you to read ..eCommerce: Stepping up from home seller to pro sellerMy Profile

    • Hi James,

      You are welcome to provide any information you find on this site that you believe will benefit them to your clients directly. Attribution and a link/URL back is always appreciated.

      Does sixworks have any US distribution centers? If not, can you recommend any companies that provide the services your company does for the U.S.?

      I would like to meet up with you at your convenience to discuss a distribution solution that could be used by small businesses so that multiple small businesses with related products could have them distributed from the same location and so that their products could be marketed by bloggers, affiliates and ecommerce sites.

      See the contact tab on this blog for the best ways to reach me.
      growmap would love you to read ..Small Business Internet Marketing: Where to StartMy Profile

  10. If you need a UPC Code and your selling on Amazon use certified Reseller Quality UPC.
    Visit: http://www.Qualityupc.com
    Instant UPC Code Downloads
    GS1 Certified
    George Laurer (The inventor of the UPC Code) Approved
    Only $29.99

  11. Quality always costs a bit more but its true that we’re all after buying cheap. I came across this UPC Codes issue but its solved now and very much true, we should check for the actual UPC numbers and look them up in the databases before buying.

  12. Such nonsense that they force you to buy UPC codes.
    What else will they think of?
    Danny would love you to read ..Black & Decker NPP2018 18-Volt Cordless Electric Pole Chain SawMy Profile

  13. Mark Larson says:

    Is anyone know this company:
    http://www.codeupc.net/services.html

    They sell each UPC for $1.99 !!

    I’m not sure if to buy from them or not… anyone?

    • Was wondering if you went with codeupc.net and, if so, any problems?The actual cost of creating a barcode should be virtually $0 so I can’t see the value of spending more than this as long as the code is valid

  14. Baryy Osandoval says:

    If you do need your own UPC codes the least expensive way to get them is through a reseller, rather than through GS1.org. Any firm that bought a sequence of 100,000 UPC codes before the class action lawsuit in 2003 can legally resell portions of their numbers to other firms. GS1 charges $750 for 100 numbers for a year. Places like mybarcodestore.com charge $50 – $20 per UPC code and their codes are good forever. They also offer software to print those bar codes if you need it.

  15. Lol, a corporate entity like Amazon will never listen to a single individual with a some sort of backing. But I had no idea about the UPC Code was necessary, thanks for the information.
    Trailers and Reviews would love you to read ..Source Code TrailerMy Profile

  16. Thanks for the info, didn’t realise the UPC needed to be added to the database for Amazon checks!

  17. This is going to be very tough on small businesses. I don’t know why Amazon would go this route. I guess this is the only way to keep tabs on everything
    .-= Mike´s featured blog ..Youtube to Mp3 =-.

    • Hi Mike,

      Because Amazon is NOT pro- small business. They take the profit out of selling products so that they end up being commodities – which is why they want them to all have UPC numbers for easy price comparison. Amazon is EVIL and that is extremely obvious today where it was not in previous years. See the post I’ll put in CommentLuv in this reply.
      growmap would love you to read ..Amazon: The Wal-Mart of the InternetMy Profile

  18. Wow, great article. I went through something similar a few years ago with UPC codes, only it was with music CDs, not books. However what’s more common now is for distributors etc to offer UPC packages thrown in with the CD deal (i.e. CD Baby) – so I’m wondering if the same might apply with book distributors / publishers who deal with Amazon on behalf of authors.

  19. Yeah, trying to sell something on Amazon has become more of a hassle than its worth! However, you do give some good tips and resources. Thank you for posting this, and I don’t mind if you don’t post daily, I’d rather have the reliable and researched info.
    .-= Brittney@Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment´s featured blog ..Do Antibiotics Cause Bacterial Vaginosis? =-.

  20. This cleared a few things up for me. A client of mine recently asked me about this very thing. I can talk on the subject now. Thanks.
    .-= donnie@web design chattanooga´s featured blog ..MCA of Chattanooga Launches New Website =-.

  21. Hi,

    Just like many others would agree, Amazon requiring UPC Codes has pretty much complicated things. The extra expense plus the additional steps that come with it.
    Fortunately, I find someone with a similar scenario.

  22. I came across something like that when we were trying to add our products to Google product search. Luckily they are not too picky and accepted our listings with made up product codes. It sounds like a waste of money to buy UPC codes, but I guess there are some advantages such as brand protection. Requiring UPC codes for things like ebooks and handmade products is just silly though. I guess Amazon doesn’t really want to deal with the small time sellers. Then again, maybe their business would run a lot smoother if only dealing with big companies.

    • Hi Jeremy,

      UPC codes are useful for making it easier for shoppers to compare products and prices and for eliminating duplicate entries on comparison shopping sites.

      It does NOT make sense to require a UPC on a non-commodity product that is unique such as handmade items, collectibles and anything else that is one of a kind.

      It probably doesn’t make much sense to have a UPC code for something that only your company sells; however, if it massed produced and sold even if only you handle it most likely eventually registering a UPC code for it is going to have to be done.

      Google recently announced that they are intentionally favoring big brands which includes Amazon. I have already seen Amazon search listings moved above the stores that were ranking first or second for specific searches and expect that to increase in the near future.

      It has always been true that it takes just as much time to deal with a company that can drive millions is sales as it does to work with a small company. That is why so many focus on working only with Fortune 500 companies and big clients and why anyone whose highest priority is making money favors big businesses over small.

      If we want to improve our economy we need to understand that buying from corporations and big business is what is destroying it (in the U.S. and worldwide) and that supporting small businesses that provide quality products and services is the ONLY feasible solution.

      Anyone who continues to focus on buying what is cheapest is contributing to their own financial demise and the economic destruction of their local, national and global economies.
      .-= growmap´s featured blog ..Word of Mouth Marketing =-.

  23. It doesn’t surprise me at all – Amazon are notorious for making it difficult to sell stuff on. I have tried time and time again just to list my ebook on there and it is one hurdle after another. Especially for those of us who do not live in the USA and therefore don’t have a US bank account or address. Then there are the formatting requirements and so forth. I gave up in the end – too difficult. The UPC is only one of the many hurdles small time manufacturers or publishers have to jump through.

    • Hi Lisa,

      There are far too many hurdles for bsuiness success. What you need is a partner in the U.S. to work with so that those that are caused by you being outside the USA can be eliminated.
      .-= growmap´s featured blog ..Support Small Businesses =-.

  24. “If you ever wonder why I don’t post daily it is because what should be simple is often incredibly complicated and all the research takes a lot of my time. I then publish the results so others don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

    VERY TRUE, however if there is daily information that needs to be spread, I am sure you will get the WORD OUT ;=), posts should only be made as information arrives and needs to be distributed.

    • Believe me when I tell you that I have enough information that could benefit my readers to post every single day for years and never run out. There is simply not enough of me to get everything I’m doing done.

      The post I’ve featured in CommentLuv in this reply is one the termite business needs to read.
      .-= Gail @ Support Small Business´s featured blog ..Local Search Directory Listings =-.

  25. Dennis Edell says:

    So this is basically for manufacturers, yes? Anything bought to be resold should already have this taken care of, correct?
    .-= Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog ..Web Income Experiments DotCom Wins Hands-Down! =-.

    • Hi Dennis,

      This can also affect bloggers who sell things they make or collectibles. Any commodity that is resold will already have a UPC code but if a merchant has products made that they sell they may eventually have to have a UPC code for each product.

      Many eBay sellers were also using Amazon to sell their goods. Some have managed to list them without UPCs but others have been shut out. The high cost on top of the already very high cost of selling on Amazon makes this requirement financially unfeasible for many.

      You can read the comments from some of the small sellers who have been affected by the Amazon UPC issue and see that some are trying to get their visitors from Amazon to visit their eBay stores as a solution like this eBay novelty store.

      Anyone buying products to resell needs to specifically ASK whether the products have a UPC before you buy them. Do not assume they do. I would ask for the actual UPC numbers and look them up in the databases (links in this post) or in a search engine or on a major shopping site to make sure they’re real.

      As far as I know there is nothing that requires a wholesaler or manufacturer to provide a UPC code. Even if there were that doesn’t mean all of them would have taken care of it. It IS expensive and it is yet another practice that greatly favors major brands over small businesses.
      .-= growmap´s last blog ..Support Small Businesses =-.

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