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Amazon Hides Listings with Missing or Incorrect UPCs

Amazon has issued additional rules around its requirement that sellers include UPCs in listings to help it clean up its catalog. Sellers will be required to enter valid UPCs regardless of any previous exemptions for new and existing listings for designated brands in Hardlines, Softlines, and Consumables. The new rules take effect on February 19, 2014.

“Our research shows that duplicate listings caused by missing or invalid UPCs make it more difficult for customers to find, evaluate, and purchase products,” Amazon.com wrote in a letter to sellers.

Amazon generally requires sellers to include a UPC code when creating a new product detail page in the Amazon.com catalog, but it will also suppress existing ASINs that are missing UPCs or have invalid UPCs. That means shoppers will not see those listings when searching and browsing, so sellers should be sure to check for suppressed listings. Sellers can find suppressed ASINs in both the Fix Suppressed Listing filter on the Manage Your Inventory tab and the Listing Quality and Suppressed Listing report in Seller Central.

UPCs can be a challenge for sellers for several reasons.

  • A listing with the correct UPC contains wrong information and/or mis-matched photos, and sellers wish to create a listing that accurately reflects the product they’re selling. (Sellers can instead contact customer service with a request that Amazon fix the listing.)
  • Sellers wish to have a unique listing for an existing product to help win exposure in search results; this is clearly frustrating to Amazon, which wants to keep its catalog clean and free of duplicate listings.

Sellers are able to purchase UPC codes on gs1us.org (some sellers buy them on eBay), enabling sellers who manufacture their own line or sell items for which there are no UPCs to list those items on Amazon. However, the latest rules apply to brands included on this Amazon list sent to sellers last week.

An EcommerceBytes reader called it an issue that needs addressing – “There are way too many duplicate listings on Amazon. Its confusing for me as a seller, I’m sure its even more confusing for buyers.”

However, he’s concerned about some niche items he sells for which he creates product detail pages without submitting UPCs because they are not factory manufactured and do not have UPCs. “Now I wonder if I will be able to do the same in the future and if the product details pages I created in the past without UPCs will still be visible or if they will be suppressed.”

For more information about this issue, see the September 30th Newsflash article, Amazon Rescinds UPC Exemptions to Clean Up Catalog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.