Product Identifiers EAN and EPC: Do You Need Them?


What are product identifiers and how do they work? Product identifiers are numbers that define the products sold in the global marketplace. However, they do more than that. They also boost sales and visibility. They make it easier for buyers to find items when searching online. Search engines and external sites use algorithms to help identify and display product matches during these searches. In a word, they connect more buyers to listings.

Two of the most common identifiers are EAN and UPC. What is the difference between these two? The UPC or Universal Product Code is composed of 12 digits while the EAN or European Article Number uses 13 digit barcodes. The former is usually used to identify most products in North America, while the latter is used by the rest of the world. Both the UPC and EAN are part of the GS1 System of International Standards. Thus, they are both accepted globally. This means that you do not need to get an EAN if you already have a UPC. The UPC barcode and 12 digit GTIN do the same job as the EAN and 13 digit GTIN. When you are required to enter a 13 digit number, simply add a zero before your 12 digit GTIN. Depending on the type of product and your target country, you will submit with different identifiers. Including product identifiers, such as EAN and UPC, to products helps buyers find your products more easily. Listings that include these identifiers are given greater visibility in navigation and search results. With hundreds of millions of products now listed online, how do you make sure that your product identifiers are unique? Well, that is the job of the GS1 numbering system. It ensures that the number you have given your product is unique. Why is it important for you to provide product identifiers to your products? Aside from helping you manage your inventories more easily, they also eliminate the risk of data conflict. When a product is mis-numbered or has the same number with another product, you will not be able to boost your ad performance. Therefore, users will not be able to find your products. Sign up for our weekly blog summary and newsletter!

Charlie Alsmiller

Throughout his career, Charlie Alsmiller has focused on customer problems in difficult industries such as Energy and Telecommunications. Prior to starting Appterra in 2005, Alsmiller was VP of Global Operations for Allegro Development, a leading provider of software for the energy sector. He has also served as president of OmniSpace Technologies, a leading SaaS provider that he founded in 1999. He spent over 10 years in the consulting world with Price Waterhouse and Deloitte Consulting, where he participated in a wide variety of projects for very high profile clients. Mr. Alsmiller holds a BBA from Baylor University in Management and Information Systems and a MBA from the University of Dallas in International Business. Specialties: Technology ventures, Enterprise Software, Contract Negotiation, International Operations, Private Equity, Product Management, Strategic Alliances, Software Implementation, Software Development

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