EAN codes are a hot topic right now as eBay is coming up with some changes on product identifiers, as well as Amazon, and even though I already have a dedicated post on EAN codes on my blog, a recent email from Debbie highlighted some of the problems that could occur due to the new rules being introduced:
I hope you can help me. I have just read your blog and wish I had found you weeks ago – you’d have saved me a headache! I am very new to Amazon and eBay and have recently had some phone cases made in China, which I plan to put on eBay and Amazon.
I have had two designs made – producing 100 of each case. I understand that if I put them on Amazon I need a 13 digit EAN number. Without sounding too stupid, does one EAN code cover 100 of the same design, or do I have to buy 100 EAN codes for each design.
What I am trying to say is, are products of the same design counted as one EAN code? I am also stuck on where to get EAN numbers from as I only have a small quantity and am not sure if any will sell so I don’t really want to join GS1.
What a great help you are, thank you.
Thanks for your email & question.
There’s no need to apologise for your question as I truly believe there are no stupid questions! It’s more stupid to not ask these questions and make huge mistakes because of misinformation. Especially in this case, with EAN codes – as you can really put your business at risk if you don’t do things the right way.
First of all I recommend you check out my EAN codes post which will educate you on the basics of these codes, what they are, how they work etc.
Now, speaking of how many EAN numbers you’ll need – as you have 2 different designs of your item, you will need 2 codes. And not 200. An EAN code is unique to each product/variation/design/style/size you sell but NOT unique to every single product as such.
So the fact that you have 200 products doesn’t mean you need 200 codes. You only need 2 as you have 2 different items (2 designs).
The same principle would apply for people who sell items in different sizes. For example you sell a t-shirt and it comes in 5 sizes. This means you will need 5 EAN codes – one for each size.
But if you sell 5 different t-shirt designs and each comes in 5 sizes, you’ll need 25 EAN codes – one for each variation of design & size.
I hope this is all clear?
Now, moving on to your second question about where to get EAN codes from. In the past I would recommend simply buying two codes from an EAN code reseller and you’d be good to go. Sadly that’s not the case anymore.
Recently Amazon US changed the way they monitor/check EAN codes and basically you’re not allowed to use re-seller codes anymore. Each EAN code contains information on the company it has been issued to and Amazon now checks whether that company/brand name is the same as what you’ve got registered with Amazon.
This means that on Amazon US, the only legit way to list products is with codes you get from GS1 directly – by joining them and paying the sign-up and yearly fee.
Now, on Amazon UK you can still get through by using codes from re-sellers BUT I bet that they will introduce the same rules on Amazon UK as they have already done on the US site. And this means that when they do this, they will take down any products that do not comply with the new EAN code rules.
So even if you can list those items on Amazon UK now, it could be that in a few months’ time Amazon takes your products down.
It’s very risky to use re-seller codes on Amazon right now. Imagine you have your products listed for several months, get good reviews and rankings for your products and then suddenly you lose all of that, as you CAN’T change the EAN code for a listing on Amazon once it goes live.
So to be 100% sure, you should join GS1 and get genuine EAN codes for your Amazon listings.
But as you’re just starting out, the associated cost is quite high. So I would actually recommend you leave Amazon alone for now and just sell on eBay.
On eBay you can use EAN codes bought from re-sellers, at least I haven’t heard any news on them changing this in the near future. So you’ll be safe selling on eBay using codes from re-sellers or simply opting for the new “self-generated” product identifiers feature eBay promises to launch soon.
Hope this helps Debbie!