Here’s how to get UPC codes for your products so you can list them on Amazon, or other websites that require a UPC code…
Legal Stuff: This article if for informational purposes only. Do your own research before taking my recommendations or advice.
“You have two choices when purchasing UPC Codes. You can buy directly from GS1 or you can buy from a reseller such as us. The benefits of buying from a reseller is obviously the price. When you purchase UPC codes from a reseller you are buying a “lot” of codes within a shared prefix, when you purchase from GS1 you are buying an entire prefix.”
I have million dollar bills! Yes, I do. They are fake, so don’t get all jealous of me. Anyway, for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to get them listed for sale on Amazon and some other sites that require UPC codes.
But finally I was able to get a UPC barcode and then list them on Amazon! Here’s my UPC code in barcode format (which I’ll never use):
Here’s my Amazon Barcode Label:
So How Did I Accomplish This?
I did a little research a year ago and I discovered that, it’s freak’n confusing! So I stopped looking, and a year later I started in again because my million dollar bills are awesome and I want to list them for sale. I mean, they are better than all the other ones so why should they get all the sales?
So here’s what I discovered in regards to getting UPC codes for your hard good products for sale…
If you do your own research you will find that some people tell you that there is only one place to buy real UPC codes – GS1. (Hey, you want to get really confused? Go to their website and read their About Us page).
I finally found their pricing area, which is an excel spread sheet program that spits out what the price will be initially, plus renewal fees. For example, I needed 1 upc code. So the initial fee is $750.00 and $158 per year (renewals). Here, see for yourself:
That pricing is outrageous. If you do a search for UPC codes you’ll find other third party re-sellers of UPC codes and they are much cheaper and don’t have renewal fees. So that’s the difference?
Before I go on, let me explain what a bar code is and what GS1 is (I’ll do my best), because it will make things a bit easier to understand.
- GS1 is a provider of UPC bar-codes to businesses. They used to be called the Uniform Code Council or UCC. And a UPC barcode is basically just the first six to 9 digits on those barcodes you see on every single product in store.
- These first 6-9 digits of a UPC barcode is the ‘prefix’.
- A business that buys a UPC barcode prefix from GS1 is then supposed to be responsible for providing the next digits on the barcode when they assign a product the UPC barcode prefix.
- After you assign a product the UPC barcode prefix the total number of digits on your barcode will be eleven.
- This is the part I don’t get: When you have your eleven digit barcode it is then put through some formula or equation that creates a ‘checksum’, or a ‘check digit’. I believe GS1 does this for you, but I am not sure because frankly at this point it is kind of irrelevant…
- A check digit is your 12th digit. So when you go through GS1 for your UPC barcode and you go through all this ‘stuff’ they give you a certificate for your ‘prefix’ and some sort of ‘start-up’ package.
Now, I did not and will not be paying the ridiculous fees as GS1 for one product of mine that doesn’t have massive profit margins. But I will at some point if that changes because if I want to sell my products at the huge retailers like Walmart or Macy’s, or Home Depot or something, I will need to show them the certificate.
For some unkown reason that I am too bored to uncover, GS1 is given the responsibility of maintaining the UPC Prefixes data base, and that’s why big retailers want the certificate just to dot their ‘i’s and cross their ‘t’s.
There are some in the industry that believe this data base is completely un-used or checked.
So What Does This All Boil Down To?
To be absolutely, 100% official you need to buy your UPC from GS1. But from what I what I have uncovered, UPC codes are totally legitimate as well, but you won’t get a certificate.
Why Is There Such A Huge Price Difference?
Some large companies have thousands of UPC codes they don’t need and they are reselling them, and there are a few third party dealers that have made a business out of this endeavor as well.
Let Me Make This Really Simple:
Let’s say I buy 1000 UPC barcodes from GS1 and do not use 900 of them. I can sell these 900 (or a portion of them) to you for any price I want (and you are willing to pay). But on the GS1 database registry it will show that the barcode is actually for my business.
Amazon businesses and small businesses have been buying the cheap UPC codes this way for years.
The giant retailers like Walmart are big sticklers on this so if your company doesn’t show up as the barcode owner for your product, even though the product is yours, they probably won’t sell it until you get an ‘official’ UPC code.
If you just want to sell Amazon or online and you are not going to be putting your products into Walmart or Home Depot, you don’t need the expensive GS1 official UPC code.
Amazon UPC Code Tip:
Have you ever found a product at a garage sale or thrift store that you wanted to sell but it wasn’t listed on Amazon? You can buy a UPC code and list it on Amazon (if it doesn’t already have a barcode.
If you find a product with a barcode but it doesn’t show up on Amazon after scanning it you don’t need to buy a barcode. You just need to type in the barcode that is on the product when you use the ‘create new product’ on Amazon).
Where Do You Buy UPC Codes For Amazon or Other Online Retailers?
There are several companies online that I found but only one was recommended by other Amazon sellers. And after communicating with them I felt comfortable and bought 10 UPC barcodes for just $1.29 each and had no trouble listing my million dollar bills on Amazon.