You down with UPCs? Better be by Feb. 19th on Amazon…

February 18, 2014

Marketplaces Gina DeFrank By Gina DeFrank

Amazon recently announced that as of tomorrow, February 19, 2014, it will require UPCs on the product listings for hundreds of popular brands.  According to Amazon, this will prevent duplicate listings that are confusing for sellers and shoppers alike.

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One thing to keep in mind is that Amazon has been known to dictate a hard date and then slowly implement the requirements. What we do know is that requiring UPCs is Amazon’s long-term direction, and that while they may still allow your product to list without a UPC after February 19th, Amazon could begin the enforcement on your products at any time.

As a seller it is in your best interest to review the SKUs that may be impacted and to develop a plan to avoid having your listings excluded from Amazon.

Who is impacted?

US sellers in the Hardlines, Softlines and Consumables categories selling these designated brands, regardless of any prior exemptions.

When?

After February 19, 2014, any of these products that don’t have UPCs could be suppressed from shoppers’ searches on Amazon.

What should you do?

1. First, determine which of your listings would be affected.

If you are listing on Amazon and listing using an ASIN instead of a UPC, review the list of designated brands to see if your listings will be impacted. If you are the valid brand owner, consider registering for the Amazon Brand Registry  to obtain a UPC exemption.

For ChannelAdvisor customers, you can run an Amazon feed preview and view the column ProductIDType to see if you are sending UPC or ASIN as the primary product ID type. Then you can run an export of your inventory on the Amazon label, focusing on the fields that contain the UPC, ASIN and Brand date.  You may need to filter these lists against Amazon’s list of designated brands to see which listings are at risk.  Full details available on the SSC here.

2. Determine if your product listings have errors.

After listing, use the ChannelAdvisor Amazon Insights (Amazon > Insights) feature and the Data Quality tab to view existing listings that have been suppressed by Amazon due to lack of valid UPCs. Use the ChannelAdvisor Product Error view (Amazon > Product Status, then select “Errors) to view new listings that have been suppressed by Amazon due to lack of valid UPCs.

3. View Suppressed listings in Amazon Seller Central.

Suppressed ASINs will be visible in both the ‘Fix Suppressed Listing’ filter on the Manage Your Inventory tab and the ‘Listing Quality and Suppressed Listing’ report in Seller Central.  To learn more about how to fix suppressed listings, search for “Suppressed Listings” in Help on Seller Central.

4. Buy UPCs if you don’t have them.

There are many companies that sell UPC data and you can locate them via a Google search. Additionally, many sellers are discussing different options on the Amazon Seller Forums.

ChannelAdvisor has a partner firm, WisePricer, that offers a product WiseMatch, which may be worth considering.

Summing it up

While this is currently US-only, and only for certain categories, it suggests a future pattern for Amazon, so sellers should take note and consider making it a habit to provide UPCs for every product listing.

Blog post by Gina DeFrank, ChannelAdvisor Product Manager