Inventory Management

Learning product identifiers to sell online

Spread the love

Product Identifiers are one of the things new online sellers will learn when you start expanding to marketplaces as they will be key to easily listing your items online. So what are product identifiers for your products? Well manufactured products get identified in some way so that universally the product can be tracked, compared and managed across multiple processes. Depending on the type of product you sell the product identifiers can change.

Almost any product you see in a store has a barcode on it. The barcode in itself is the product identifier but showing in the barcode format so it can be read in by barcode scanners which can convert the barcode into the product identifier value. So what are the primary product identifers?

UPC: This is the most common product identifier and stands for Universal Product Code (UPC). This is a 12 numeric digits value where the value is unique and is used for commercial products. Again this would be the value you find within the barcode of a box or item you see in a store. This product identifier is most common in North America for use.
EAN: EAN stands for European Article Number and as you can guess from the name, this is not typically used within North America but largely used in other locations. The EAN is usually13 numeric digits but in some cases can show as 8 or 14 digits. Like the UPC, the EAN is the value you would find within the barcode to be read in by barcode scanners if the product was manufactured or sold outside of North America.
JAN: This product identifier is only used in Japan and stands for Japanese Article Number. This is 13 numeric digits and again would be the value within the barcode for retail products within that specific location.
ISBN: Unlike UPC, EAN and JAN which is used regionally, the ISBN applies globally as a product identifier. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is a 10 numeric digit value. The ISBN value is what you will find within the barcode on any book published since 1970.
MPN: The MPN is another global value and stands for Manufacturer Part Number. Unlike the other product identifiers this value does not have a defined length for characters and can have alpha and numeric values. This value is created by the manufacturer of the product to create a unique mapping of the item into their own catalogue.
ASIN: While this one is not really a product identifier, you should learn ASIN. ASIN stands for the Amazon Standard Identification Number. When you sell on Amazon you are really selling an ASIN that is created on the Amazon product catalogue. To become a seller of an ASIN you need to know the product identifier such as the UPC or ISBN associated with the ASIN to hook in and become a seller.

So you may be asking yourself why do you care about product identifiers and learning all of the terms and here is why. Most marketplaces have a product catalogue concept which means when you list an item for sale you need to define the product identifier of your product as part of your listing so you either join the product page and become a seller of an item or so that they can properly categorize your product listing. So to list on marketplaces, you need to know the product identifier of your item to be successful. The only exception is that not all items have product identifiers for example many collectibles will not or handcrafted items but if it is a manufactured item it will most likely have one.