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How to Fill in GTIN Gaps and Optimize for Google PLA Success

Google Shopping just threw a wrench into the mix by requiring all sellers to include unique product identifiers called Global Trade Item Numbers, or GTINs, in their listings starting on May 16th. Luckily, this optimizes the selling experience for retailers operating on the comparison shopping engine. In fact, the new requirement has the potential to improve ads and make it easier for shoppers to find you and your products.

So the big question is how you get these numbers for each of your products. Not all retailers have easy access to this data and it’s a terribly manual process to piece together the necessary numbers for each product when you know where to find it. You can physically scan the barcodes of your products with this app. However, the more items you sell, the less appealing this appears. It’s no fun to have to contact each manufacturer to find the GTIN for missing product data for each item you list on Google Shopping.

To make matters more complicated, there are varying lengths for GTINs, depending on the country you’re selling to and product type. Below is a full breakdown:

  • UPC (in North America / GTIN-12): 12-digit number (8-digit UPC-E codes should be converted to 12-digit UPC-A codes)
  • EAN (in Europe / GTIN-13): 13-digit number
  • JAN (in Japan / GTIN-13): 8 or 13-digit number
  • ISBN (for books): 13-digit number (ISBN-10 values should be converted to ISBN-13)
  • ITF-14 (for multipacks / GTIN-14): 14-digit number

The last piece of the puzzle, and arguably the most difficult, is that some products simply don’t have GTINs due to their nature (think: custom or vintage items). In that case, it’s best to use brand (when applicable) and manufacturer part number.

While this seems like a tough project to accomplish, having the correct GTIN for each product is imperative. Otherwise you run the risk of not showing up in search results and being flagged as invalid.

Contributing writer: Angelica Valentine

Arie Shpanya

Arie is the former COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.

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