Expert Q&A: Google Shopping GTIN Update

May 3, 2016

Digital Marketing Anna Torres By Anna Torres


The clock is ticking, Google Shopping advertisers. You’ve got just over a week to get your feeds in check or face impending doom. (We’re kidding… sort of.) Google Shopping has made it clear that if your products don’t meet the new GTIN requirements, they’ll no longer show up on the results page.

We’ve been talking about this for a while now, but our recent webinar with both Google and ChannelAdvisor experts brought to our attention that not everything was crystal clear. Here’s a roundup of the questions and concerns you brought up during the webinar chat, answered by Rob Rekrutiak, product manager at Google Shopping:   


Q: How is a GTIN different from a UPC barcode?

A: The UPC is a specific type of GTIN. In your feed you should include the 12-digit number printed below the the barcode’s “bars.”

Q: We sell a large number of print-to-order, licensed graphic T-shirts, but we push just one product of each style, meaning a master item, which means that it may not have a GTIN. Do sellers need to do anything for items already listed on marketplaces, i.e. Amazon?

A: If your products don’t currently have GTINs, we’re not asking you to create them. This is especially true in the case of made-to-order, handmade or highly customized products like print-to-order T-shirts.

Q: If we create our own multipack — so it’s not done by the manufacturer — should we assign our own UPC?

A: Assuming that you’re a merchant creating this multipack and that all the products in the multipack are the same, you should submit the UPC value corresponding to the individual item. You should never assign your own UPC.

Q: If you’re bundling three items with separate UPCs, can you choose just one of the UPCs to enter, or is there a better way to get a richer search?

A: If the bundle consists of a main item bundled with accessories or add-ons that complement the main item, you should submit the UPC of the main item. For example, when selling a video game console bundled with three video games, the video game console is the main item. If the bundle consists of three assorted items, you should not submit a value for GTIN.

Q: Can we use the same GTIN on multiple products? We create bundles, and it sounds like we should use the GTIN of the main item. Therefore, we’ll have duplicate GTINs uploaded where the main item is the same.

A: You’re doing it right — submit the GTIN of the main item and use the bundle field to let us know that it’s a bundle. It’s okay to have multiple items in your feed with the same GTIN if you’re doing it in this way. Just make sure that you submit each item with a unique value for “id.”

Q: Does the 13-digit UPC work as a GTIN? Two of our very big international vendors started changing their UPCs from 12 to 13 digits. Does that affect the item in Google Shopping US?

A: The GTIN field in the feed supports all types of GTINs from 8 to 14 digits.

Q: As a manufacturer currently adding UPCs to our product that other sellers have already listed in their shopping feeds, how do we communicate to Google Shopping that our UPCs are the official GTIN for the products? Hopefully retailers won’t create alternative GTINs for our products.

A: You may want to look at Google Manufacturer Center (, which allows the manufacturer of products to share information — including GTINs — about their products with Google.

Q: Google likely doesn’t want us to submit all the child variants for each SKU just to provide all the possible GTINs. What do we do?

A: Actually, a separate GTIN for each variant/SKU is required.

Q: Is there a master list of brands that GTIN is required for?

A: The best way to see which products — and brands — do not meet the GTIN requirement is to use the Merchant Center diagnostics tab.

Q: If you need to set “identifier exists” to false, what do you do with the “id” field? Right now we have our own SKUs in it. Should it be blank?

A: Definitely don’t submit the “id” field as blank — it serves the purpose of identifying this product uniquely in *your* merchant feed. It’s totally okay to put your own value for SKU in this field.

Q: Can you clarify “brand name”?

A: By “brand name” we mean products that are produced by a manufacturer and are sold across multiple retailers. This can include both large, famous brands and smaller, niche brands.

Q: Is there a tool or source that has a database of GTINs other than the chain systems/vendors?

A: While there are some resources that can be found on the internet, they may not be accurate, or it may be difficult to determine which exact product you’re selling. The best way to get GTINs is to go back to the products you sell, the systems you use to manage your inventory and the distributors/manufacturers you work with.

Q: If I’m a manufacturer, do I have to have a GTIN?

A: You don’t have to, but if you’re selling your products via multiple retailers, there are a lot of benefits to having GTINs for your products.

Q:  If we have a manufacturer that has GTINs for their products, but those numbers aren’t flagged in our diagnostics, should we still submit these GTINs, or not worry about it at all?

A: Yes you should: If the products you’re selling have GTINs, you should submit them.

Still having doubts, concerns, worries, general freak-outs over whether you’re doing the GTIN thing right? Shoot us an email at