UPC codes are required if you want to sell your products on Amazon, Walmart, or any other marketplace. Having valid UPC codes is now more important than ever.
On Amazon, you don’t need it if you know the ASIN of a product, but if you don’t, you will need a UPC. In contrast, Walmart only accepts UPC and GTIN-14 as identification numbers. This means that one of them must list a product on Walmart.com. Having valid UPC codes is now more important than ever.
What exactly is a UPC? The Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode symbology that is widely used for tracking trade items in stores in the United States and other countries.
Where can I obtain a UPC code?
If you search for options, you will find two types of deals: websites selling UPC codes for less than ten cents each and businesses selling a single UPC for more than twenty dollars.
We concluded that any place selling UPC other than GS1 is just a reseller of numbers and will not list your name as the manufacturer after contacting support of several marketplaces, talking to multiple merchants, and GS1 support. Many websites sell cheap UPC codes, but this can be hit or miss, and you’re more likely to end up with invalid codes or codes that have already been used by another merchant. There are numerous complaints about this on the internet and on the BBB website.
For example, one of our clients buy UPC codes from upcs.com, and one of them work with Walmart. However, we have several clients who use UPCs from upcs.com and have no problems using them on sites like Amazon and Walmart – it is truly hit or miss.
There are two ways to obtain UPC codes correctly
Option 1: If you want the UPC numbers to be listed in your name, you must buy from GS1. Apply for a GS1 Company Prefix at www.gs1us.info. Pricing information can be found here (to buy codes and pay an annual fee)
Option 2: If you don’t need your own prefix, you can get codes without paying an annual fee at www.singleupc.com. There, you can purchase a single UPC for $10. (or less if you buy more than one).
You should check with the stores that will be selling your product(s) to see if they want you to have your own company prefix. This will also influence where you should go. It appears that Amazon and other online retailers require you to purchase the more expensive version (option 1).
What if you’re a small business that doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a handful of UPC codes?
This is what we usually recommend
If you run a medium or large business and can afford UPC pricing and plan to sell on multiple online marketplaces, as well as to resellers, go with GS1 and get your own company prefix.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider using services like https://upcs.com/ to obtain a small number of UPC codes. Check to see if they validate with the marketplaces you require. In the worst-case scenario, you will have spent $170 on 1000 useless random numbers. It appears to be worth the risk, but it should only be considered as a short-term strategy. As your company grows, you will almost certainly need to use GS1 at some point.