GTIN, Global Trade Item Number
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
GTIN's importance in e-commerce.
A GTIN, Global Trade Item Number, observed just below the bars in the barcode, is a numerical representation of the barcode itself. EAN-13, UPC, ITF-14 and EAN-8 barcodes have 13, 12, 14 and 8 digits respectively, and are used in retail as product identifiers.
GTIN's are simply barcode numbers that are used by brand manufacturers to uniquely identify a product within the global market. They are necessary for all products that have a brand and for products advertised through trade. They are also required for tailor-made products, or for craft/vintage products that are marketed at large retailers and sold on a large scale.
The GTIN standard has incorporated the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), International Standard Music Number (ISMN), International Article Number (which includes the European Article Number EAN and Japanese Article Number JAN) and some Universal Product Codes (UPCs).
Legacy systems have been brought up-to-date to adhere to new GTIN standards. For example, the ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Some ISBN’s had 10 digits, however to conform with GTIN standards, these were converted to 13 digit numbers.
The family of data structures within the GTIN is:
GTIN-12 (UPC) 12-digit number used primarily in North America
GTIN-13 (EAN-13) 13-digit number used predominately outside of North America
GTIN-14 (EAN/UCC-128 or ITF-14) 14-digit number used to identify trade items at various packaging levels
GTIN-8 (EAN-8) 8-digit number used predominately outside of North America
GTIN is a term referring to how the data is stored - the padding out of the item number with zeroes to a uniform length. The full 14-digit GTIN is achieved on a data carrier of shorter length by ‘padding’ the number out to 14 digits with left-justified zeros. For example, the GTIN-12 number 012345678905 becomes 00012345678905 in GTIN-14 format.
Most modern scanners already scan any barcode within the GTIN family.
How GTIN’s are structured
Each GTIN is divided into three parts:
The first is the company prefix, the length of which is variable depending on the company’s coding needs
The second part is the reference number, assigned by the brand owner
The third, a digit calculated automatically, based on the first 12 digit, as a check digit to avoid entry errors
Why GTIN’s are important for e-commerce
The uniqueness and universality of the identifier is invaluable when searching products across different data bases.
Shopping engines such as Google and Amazon, use GTINs. Both maintain large databases containing almost all the GTIN's in existence. A product must have a GTIN to be uploaded to one of these platforms. If one is not included or incorrect, the platform will reject the product.
GTIN’s enable more relevant matches between a user’s search and the products
GTIN’s assist search engines and shopping comparison platforms with product comparison
GTIN’s offer a more feature rich shopping experience, as GTINs facilitate the use of product data in ad visuals
Consumers benefit when search engines and comparison shopping engines use GTIN's:
GTIN’s enable more relevant results when searching for a product
They allow for better product comparisons
They facilitate more relevant ads in non-shopping environments such as Facebook
Sellers benefit by using GTIN’s:
As their products can be submitted to a greater number of platforms
Conversions increase as products appear in more relevant search results and ads
They are more competitive as products reach relevant comparison engines
The vast majority of products worldwide have GTIN’s. They assist shopping platforms, search engines, manufacturers, supply chains, sellers and consumers.
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