How to use UPC Codes


Author: Bobby Bruno


Around 2016 there was an uproar around the world of UPC codes! Amazon started checking UPC Codes against the GS1 database. Many sellers were forced to delete their listing and recreate them with proper GS1 approved UPC Codes. Since then, articles around UPC Codes emerged, scattered around the internet, and no real guide to UPC’s.

A few years back I was manning email marketing systems at an eCommerce business in the city, the same one that partnered with Ray J, to create RayCon. Around that time we noticed an increase in customer requests regarding UPC codes. Being an eBay and Amazon seller I noticed I needed answers to the same questions.

Still, a lot of people are asking what are UPC Codes, where can I get UPC codes, Why do I need UPC codes and so much more. For a long time, there hasn’t been a guide to where, what, when, why, and how to use UPC Codes… Until now! If you’ve been asking some of these questions welcome to, “What are UPC Codes and Everything You Need To Know about them.”


What are UPC Codes

What Is A UPC Code


A UPC code or a Universal Product Code is a strand of unique numbers that identify your product offering making it legible to computers and POS systems. UPC codes are shown with 12 vertical Black lines of different lengths and widths with the unique 12 digit code underneath. When your UPC code is scanned it allows POS systems to identify your product offering among the millions of products out there.

The first few numbers of a UPC code represent your business and the ones following that are to represent the unique product offering.

Why You Need UPC Codes

If you sell on eBay or plan on selling on eBay you may be thrilled to know that UPC codes aren’t required to list your products on the eBay marketplace. However, you may be missing out on a ton of sales if that’s the only marketplace you want to sell on. The amount of Amazon sellers and revenue from Amazon sellers have been booming. You can see more about their growth with this infographic on the toy industry.


Amazon requires that your listings include a UPC code that can be measured against the GS1 database to ensure that it is truly unique. Without one, you won’t be able to list any products. For the sake of e-commerce and it’s true goodness, I, like many set out to find a UPC Code generator that remains compliant with GS1.


So, I took the time to find and understand UPC codes that work. Here’s my list of UPC Code generators that you can use for your Amazon shop.



Sells GS1 Authentic UPC codes for Amazon sellers. The prices vary from $5 for One UPC code to $0.45 per UPC Code for 50 codes. They also sell EAN Codes if you’re looking to purchase that as well.



You can buy 100 UPC right off of sellers on eBay. They won’t cost much either. Most people are listing them at a dollar for 100 codes.


They’ll definitely be helpful and honest, but there’s something else you need to pay attention to. Remember when I said the UPC codes first few numbers are related to your brand or business? That’s where the Global Standard 1 comes into play. When you visit the non-profits GS1 page you’ll be able to get your unique Brand Prefix. Be sure to check it out to discover if that’s something you need or not. A lot of Amazon sellers are noticing that when their brand prefix on their UPC codes does not match their brand it doesn’t work!

How to use UPC Codes

How To Use UPC Codes

Before you pull the trigger on your UPC Codes you’ll need to know how to use them. There’s always a way to set the thing up so when you’re looking at a UPC code you’ll know the product without seeing it. Personally, I think this a great thing. Especially with the rise of AI, we need to be able to keep up with technology. If you think it’s impossible now just wait! I used to work at a deli and every cold cut had its own unique 3-6 digit code, and I mean everything. But after time I knew all the codes by heart. 

So, I’ll tell you how to read them, and how to use them and when they’re necessary. Let’s use Shirts for example. Let’s say you have 2 shirts same design just a different color, and sizes. One color is Black and the other is Green, in sizes small, medium, and large. That means you’ll need a UPC code that reflects the color and the size. In total, that’s 6 UPC codes for the shirts. A code that represents the Green shirt in all sizes, and a code that represents the Black shirt in all sizes.

Now, that you understand how you can use your UPC codes you can start assigning meanings to numbers. For example, Black can be the number  222, and the sizes small, medium, and large can be 2, 3, and 6 respectively. The first 6 to 9 digits will be your brand prefix. If your brand prefix is 6 digits long then the next 5 numbers will represent the product number, and the last digit will be the check digit, which is automatically calculated.

Adding UPC codes to your products can be a long and tedious process depending on how many products and variations of product offerings you have. However, will allow your business to grow by selling through 3rd party marketplaces and keeping you in line with standard business procedures.

Now that you what UPC Codes are, where to get UPC codes, and how to use UPC codes you’re well on your way to selling on 3rd party marketplaces like Amazon and more. Even better, you’re right on time to start selling this season!