For businesses, both large and small, one of the first steps to trading, both online and offline, is assigning unique identifications numbers to your products in the form of Global Trade Item Numbers (or GTINs for short).
These small but powerful numbers are a sure-fire way to ensure a seamless sales transaction for any product. That is why back in March 2021, Google released the following statement:
“Google relies on accurate and trusted product data to precisely identify products that are available for shoppers.
We recommend providing clear product identification, as this helps Google to match offers to products, and to match products to relevant search queries. You can improve Google’s understanding of products by using unique product identifiers like Global Trade Item Number (GTIN™), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs), and brand names.”
Clear, accurate product data is essential to provide consumers with the best possible shopping experience, especially in an online environment, where search needs to work hard to help consumers more easily find the products that meet their specific needs.
That is why alongside Google, many online marketplaces have made GTINs a requirement for selling on their platforms.
QVC UK has said:
“Providing correct and authentic GTINs for your products is a requirement when working with QVC UK. The provision of a GTIN is incredibly important as they support a number of business processes currently and are a critical part of our roadmap for the future. We recommend our vendors become members of GS1 as our go-to partner for vendors that need to purchase GTINs.”
GTINs also enable marketplaces, who use catalogue systems, to correctly identify and filter products, optimising the customer experience. OnBuy specifically encourages sellers to use GS1 GTINs and have said:
“GS1 standards and identifiers are incredibly important for OnBuy sellers because we operate a catalogue system. We chose to operate a catalogue system as this is ultimately more beneficial to our buyers, and easier to manage for our sellers. We advise that sellers license their barcodes directly from GS1.”
However, not all product identifiers are made equal. It is important when assigning GTINs to your products, that you can guarantee they are unique to your brand.
Unfortunately, if you purchase a GTIN from a non-GS1 organisation, you might find that the GTIN you’ve purchased is already being used by another organisation, which can lead to a whole host of issues down the line. This can include search clashes, as search engines don’t know which product to surface in their results, and, in some extreme cases, delisting of your products and the deletion of all your product reviews.
To tackle counterfeit GTINs (those that are not being licenced by an official GS1 organisation), Amazon have prohibited the listing and sale of EANs and UPCs on their site and take a daily feed from the GS1 database to ensure identifiers for both new and existing listings are authentic.
“We verify the authenticity of product identifiers by checking the GS1 database. EANs/UPCs that do not match the information provided by GS1 will be considered invalid. We recommend obtaining your product identifier directly from GS1 (and not from other third parties selling EAN/UPC licences) to ensure that the appropriate information is reflected in the GS1 database.”
– Amazon GTIN Authority
So, if you are launching a new business, or looking to unlock additional digital channels, we strongly recommend you assign authentic GTINs to your products, to maximise your online visibility and ensure accurate product delivery.
You can find out more about GS1 GTINs and how to assign them to your products, by downloading our ebook, “Harness the Power of GS1 standards for retail success”.