New Google Shopping Requirement for GTINs—Are You Ready?

SEMA News—June 2016


New Google Shopping Requirement for GTINs—Are You Ready?

By Jon Wyly

Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), barcodes, Universal Product Codes (UPC): We’ve all seen the funky little scanable block on various products for many years now. In fact, the first product sold bearing a UPC was a single pack of gum in June of 1974. Today, virtually every brand-name product that is sold through multiple merchants is likely to have a UPC on its packaging.

So what exactly do these terms mean? UPCs and EANs (originally European Article Numbers but now renamed International Article Numbers) are a family of barcodes called GTINs. GTIN-12 is used in the United States and Canada and is encoded into 12-digit UPC barcodes.

As of this writing, Google has announced that it requires full compliance on its GTINs for most products to qualify for inclusion on Google Shopping feeds. In simple terms, after May 16, Google will begin to show “item level disapprovals” for products that don’t meet the requirement. That is, you will need to meet the GTIN requirements to continue serving ads for your products through Google. And this doesn’t just mean that items without GTINs will be excluded but rather that the entire data feed will be rejected if a certain modest percentage of items don’t comply.

This is a big deal, folks! And frankly, this is something that every manufacturer should have been complying with for some time now.

An initial look at the industry data repository operated by the SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) shows that roughly 25% of the parts managed and stored in the SDC system are missing GTINs. In some cases, they are hit-and-miss; in other cases, the manufacturer has made a conscious decision not to invest in GTINs.

Well, the game has now officially changed, and it’s time to fill in those blanks and get compliant on GTINs—not just for Google but also for the countless retailers that have the same requirement. Rest assured, Google’s stand will be the tip of the iceberg, creating an ideal opportunity for others that have been “flexible” on GTINs to firm up their position as well.

So how do you fix this situation? It’s pretty simple, actually. If you are a large manufacturer in need of several thousand or more GTINs, you need to contact Global Standards (GS1), a neutral, nonprofit standards organization that has managed GTINs globally since that first scan back in 1974. There, you can sign up for your own unique identifier and purchase your GTINs. If you are already an existing subscriber through GS1, then get those blanks filled in as soon as possible!

But what about the smaller manufacturer that needs 50, 100, 500 or a couple thousand GTINs and can’t afford a unique subscription through GS1? Well, that’s where your SEMA-member benefits kick in! Since its inception, the SDC has been an official source of GS1 GTINs, which have been offered at a price of $1 each, with no minimum purchase requirement.

Now, in response to Google’s requirement, the SDC is committing to provide up to 2,500 official GS1 GTINs to any SDC-member company (that has never worked directly with GS1) at no charge.

If you are an SDC supplier member and need GTINs, contact the Data Lab at 888-958-6698 x40, and get started today. If you are not yet a member of the SDC, contact Director of Membership Jim Graven at or 888-958-6698 x4, for information on this and the many other benefits of joining the SDC.

Don’t delay! Your sales depend on it.

To learn more about how you can take control of your product data and manage it at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Director of Membership Jim Graven at or 888-958-6698 x4.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet