Navigating the World of Product Identification: Understanding UPC and FNSKU Barcodes

In the dynamic and competitive world of e-commerce, particularly on platforms like Amazon, a thorough understanding of product identification is essential for success. Two critical terms that frequently surface in this context are UPC (Universal Product Code) and FNSKU (Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit). Both are represented as barcodes on products, yet they serve different purposes and have unique implications for Amazon sellers.



UPC: The Universal Product Identifier

General Use: The UPC is a globally recognized barcode, not exclusive to any single retail platform, including Amazon. It is a standardized code used across various retail and e-commerce sites worldwide. 

Structure and Function: UPCs consist of a 12-digit numeric code. This code serves as a unique identifier for each product, crucial when creating a product listing on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms. It's part of the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) system, ensuring worldwide product recognition and tracking. 

Registration Process: Acquiring a UPC requires registration through an authorized third-party organization, which usually involves a fee. This process ensures that each UPC is unique and valid for global commerce. 

FBA Considerations: For sellers using Amazon's Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service, the presence of a UPC barcode on products is not an issue. In such cases, FBA may use an FNSKU label to override the UPC for internal tracking and processing purposes.


FNSKU: Amazon's Unique Product Barcode

Amazon-Exclusive: The FNSKU is a barcode uniquely used by Amazon, primarily designed to facilitate the efficient handling, sorting, and tracking of products within Amazon's vast fulfillment centers.

FBA Labeling Requirements: Sellers utilizing FBA are required to ensure that FNSKUs cover any existing UPC labels on their products. This requirement is crucial for seamless processing and inventory management in Amazon's system. 

Independent Fulfillment: Sellers who handle their own order fulfillment (non-FBA) do not need to use FNSKU labels. In these cases, the standard UPC barcode suffices for product identification.

Generation and Associated Costs: Amazon exclusively generates FNSKUs for products listed on its platform. Although there is no fee for FNSKU creation, Amazon charges sellers if they opt for Amazon's labeling service to apply FNSKU labels to their products.


Adapting to Marketplace Changes and Regulations

As the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve, staying informed about the latest marketplace regulations and requirements is crucial for sellers. Amazon, being a major player in the online retail space, frequently updates its policies and systems to improve efficiency and security. These changes can directly impact how sellers use UPC and FNSKU barcodes. For instance, updates in Amazon’s product tracking and fraud prevention mechanisms can necessitate changes in barcode registration and usage. Sellers must remain agile and adaptable, ensuring their products are not only compliant with current standards but also prepared for potential future shifts in marketplace policies. Regularly consulting resources like or Amazon’s seller guidelines
can help in staying ahead of these changes.


Leveraging Barcodes for Strategic Advantages

Beyond compliance, savvy sellers can use UPC and FNSKU barcodes strategically to enhance their business operations. Proper barcode management can lead to more efficient inventory tracking, easier stock replenishment, and streamlined logistics, all of which contribute to a better customer experience. Additionally, for sellers operating across multiple platforms, UPC codes provide a consistent way to track products, simplifying multi-channel sales strategies. In contrast, the Amazon-specific FNSKU allows for better integration and optimization within the Amazon ecosystem, particularly for those heavily relying on FBA. By understanding and utilizing these barcodes effectively, sellers can gain a competitive edge in the fast-paced world of online retail.


Registering Your UPC Codes

The process of barcode registration, while essential, can be complex and daunting, especially for new sellers. Platforms like offer a streamlined and user-friendly service to register barcodes, including UPC codes, for use on Amazon and other retail platforms. They provide expert guidance and support, ensuring that your products are properly identified, compliant with global standards, and ready for successful listing and sale.

Accurate product identification through UPC and FNSKU barcodes is more than just a regulatory requirement. It plays a vital role in supply chain management, inventory tracking, and ensuring product authenticity. This accuracy in identification helps prevent counterfeiting and ensures that customers receive the correct product, enhancing customer trust and satisfaction.

Understanding the distinction between UPC and FNSKU is critical for any Amazon seller. The UPC offers a universal solution for product identification across multiple platforms, while the FNSKU is an Amazon-specific tool designed to optimize the FBA process. The choice between these identifiers depends on your specific selling strategy and chosen fulfillment method. For those in need of registering or managing their UPC codes, stands out as a competent and reliable resource. Their expertise in barcode registration ensures that your products comply with all necessary standards for a successful online presence. Start your Amazon selling journey with confidence, equipped with comprehensive knowledge about UPC and FNSKU barcodes. Registering your products through a trusted service like can be a significant step towards achieving e-commerce success.

– Erik Quisling

Erik Quisling is the Founder and CEO of Started in 1999, has been featured in both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and has helped more than 100,000 businesses bring their products to market with barcodes.
Navigating the World of Product Identification: Understanding UPC and FNSKU Barcodes, FBA Labeling Requirements

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