Dealing with Amazon’s UPC Requirements

by Steve on July 29, 2008 · 40 comments

"Is it true that Amazon requires a UPC for every item? How can I sell my one of a kind or antique item without a UPC?"

Amazon recently announced they would require UPC codes on products listed in their catalog:

Starting in August 2008, our systems will require a UPC for products listed in the Amazon.com Home and Garden store. Items without UPCs create challenges for both Amazon and our merchants, but more importantly, they degrade the shopping experience for our customers due to duplicate product listings and incorrect search matches. While we have always advised merchants to provide a UPC for each of their listings, we have not required it until now.

Items such as antiques, handmade items, or other items without a UPC can still be sold on Amazon.com. If you have such an item, and you have a Pro-Merchant account, you can still create a product description page using the Everything Else category. A word of caution though: If your item SHOULD have a UPC and there is a category specifically for it on Amazon, you may not use the Everything Else category as a work-around. In other words, don't try to cheat. Everything Else means "everything else" other than categorized items. Amazon is pretty strict about keeping the site well organized.

There are two things you can do to try to get around the UPC requirement. First, you can talk with a rep on the phone. If you've been frustrated with eBay phone support - you'll be happy with Amazon. From your Manage Your Inventory Page, in the upper right click "Seller Help" and have Amazon call you. Then ask them what you should do to be able to list your item.

Second, if you hit the UPC wall, you can email Amazon and ask for an exception to the rule for your product. There is a good chance you can get one if you make your case well. Be polite, and don't get nasty if you can't get an exception right now. They assure me they are working on a number of things to accommodate the large number of eBay sellers beginning to sell there. (I predict a "Collectibles" category in the future - you heard it here first.)

Here is some information directly from Amazon you should find helpful:

Currently, we require a Universal Product Code (UPC) or a European
Article Numbers (EAN) for many products submitted through our Create a
Product Detail Page feature. We require this identifying data for the
following products:

* Baby Products (UPC or EAN)
* Camera & Photo (UPC or EAN)
* Electronics (UPC or EAN)
* Home, Kitchen & Garden (UPC or EAN)
* Music CD or Cassette (UPC or EAN)
* Musical Instruments (UPC or EAN)
* Software (UPC or EAN)
* Tools & Hardware (UPC or EAN)
* Toys & Games (UPC or EAN)
* Video & DVD (UPC)

If the item you would like to sell falls under one of the categories
listed above and does not have the required product identifier, it
cannot be listed using the Create a Product Detail Page feature.
However, if the item being sold was manufactured or printed prior to
the establishment of UPC codes, you can write to our Seller
Performance group to request permission to create the catalog page
without the UPC. You can contact this department via email using the
following address:

seller-performance@amazon.com

For more information on obtaining a UPC or EAN, please contact:

Uniform Code Council Inc.
8163 Old Yankee Road, Suite J
Dayton, OH 45458 USA
Telephone: (937) 435-3870

http://www.gs1us.org

UPDATE: If you can find your item already listed by another seller, viola! You can piggy-back on their UPC. This may not help sellers of many one-of-a-kind items, but with so many items in the Amazon.com catalog, search for your product - even though unique - before giving up entirely.

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