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Optimize your eCommerce Website with GTIN Codes

August 29th, 2021

GTIN codes are a very important factor for e-commerce websites, particularly when integrating with platforms like Google Merchant Center and optimizing AdWords campaigns. They enable accurate product identification, helping e-commerce businesses provide detailed product information to platforms like Google Shopping. This helps to enhance the visibility and performance of shopping listings in search engine results. With GTIN codes, advertisers can optimize AdWords campaigns by providing Google with precise product data, allowing for improved ad targeting, better ad relevance, and increased click-through rates.

What is a GTIN Code?

A GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is a standardized product identifier used globally in the retail and supply chain industries. A GTIN code consists of a unique numerical code that helps identify individual products, allowing for optimized product management, tracking, and sales. GTINs come in various forms, such as UPC, EAN, ISBN, and more, and are important for optimized product identification and inventory control. Make sure your e-commerce website uses GTINs for accurate product transactions, ensuring that products are easily and accurately identified as well as indexed in the search engines.

What are the common GTIN structures?

  1. GTIN-12 (UPC-A): This is a 12-digit number, typically used in North America for consumer goods. It consists of a company prefix, an item reference, and a check digit.
  2. GTIN-13 (EAN-13): Commonly used in Europe and other regions, it is a 13-digit number. It includes a country code, a company prefix, an item reference, and a check digit.
  3. GTIN-8 (EAN-8): A shorter version of EAN-13, consisting of 8 digits, it is also used for identifying products, especially in Europe.
  4. GTIN-14 (ITF-14): Used for shipping containers and often called “case codes,” it is a 14-digit number with a company prefix, item reference, and check digit.
  5. GTIN-12 with an additional 2- or 5-digit extension: In some cases, a GTIN-12 (UPC-A) may have a 2- or 5-digit extension for more detailed product information.

How do I find my products GTIN?

  1. Barcodes: If your product has a barcode, the GTIN is often encoded within it. Look for the UPC (Universal Product Code) or EAN (European Article Number) barcode on the product’s packaging. The GTIN is usually displayed below or above the barcode.
  2. Product Packaging: Check the product’s packaging or labeling for any standardized barcode or numerical code. The GTIN is typically listed on the product’s packaging.
  3. Manufacturer or Supplier: Contact the manufacturer or supplier of the product. They often provide GTIN information, especially for products that require barcoding, such as retail goods.
  4. Barcode Databases: Some databases and online tools, like GS1’s GEPIR (Global Electronic Party Information Registry), allow you to search for product information using barcode numbers. You can input the barcode, and the database may provide the associated GTIN.
  5. GS1 Membership: If you’re the manufacturer or official owner of the product, consider becoming a member of GS1, the organization that manages GTINs. They can assist you in obtaining official GTINs for your products.

Can I make up my own GTIN?

eCommerce GTIN for Optimization

No, you should not make up your own GTIN (Global Trade Item Number). GTINs are globally standardized identifiers assigned by an authorized organization, typically GS1 (Global Standards One), which manages and allocates GTINs. These unique codes are used to identify and track products in the retail and supply chain sectors, ensuring consistency and accuracy in product identification.

To obtain valid GTINs for your products, it’s best to work with an authorized organization like GS1 or obtain GTINs through official channels to ensure that your products are correctly identified and compatible with industry standards.

What do I do if I sell custom products on my eCommerce website and don’t have a GTIN?

When you sell custom products on your e-commerce website and do not have a GTIN, there are alternatives methods to handle product identification. One option is to utilize MPN (Manufacturer Part Number), although it’s not as universally recognized as GTINs. Some online platforms, such as Google Merchant Center, permit the use of MPNs for product identification, allowing you to create unique MPNs for your custom products.

Some eCommerce websites also establish a Custom Identifier, which does not have to be a GTIN but should be consistent and distinct for each product. Certain platforms offer the flexibility to define Manufacturer or Seller-Defined Attributes, this allows you to provide information that sets your custom products apart. In some cases when it comes to listing custom products without GTINs, reaching out to your e-commerce platform and/or marketplaces where you showcase your products can help, they may have specific policies and procedures designed to address this situation.

What do I add to my product to ensure it is correct for Merchant Center and Google Shopping?

Google has specified that products without a GTIN, usually custom made items should use a MPN if available, however only provide one if it is correct:

If the product doesn’t have a clearly associated MPN or is a custom-made product (for example, art, custom t-shirts, novelty products, and handmade products), the attribute is optional.

Only provide an MPN if you’re sure it’s correct. When in doubt do not provide an MPN (for example, do not guess or make up a value).

Google Support

Google goes on to specify that you can create your own MPN if you are the products manufacturer. Be sure to follow Google’s guidelines for MPN numbers which includes the limit of 1-70 characters and it must be a String (Alphanumeric, Unicode characters. Recommended: ASCII only). If you need help setting up your eCommerce store or want to optimize your current eCommerce website contact our E-Commerce Marketing Services team today.


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