What is an EAN number (and what can I do with it)?

What Is An Ean Number (And What Can I Do With It)?

If you sell on online marketplaces, it’s hard to avoid it: you will need EAN codes. EAN stands for European Article Number. The codes are unique, and linked to the products you sell. You may know the code by its more popular name, namely: the barcode. Want to know exactly what the number is, as well as what you get out of it? Then be sure to read on!

What is an EAN code?

An EAN code is a unique, 13-digit code linked to a product. This is why the code is also called EAN-13. Thus, each product can be identified on a European scale. So there is only one product associated with a particular EAN code. Do you sell shoes? Then each product with a different model, color and size has a different code.

The code is also called the barcode or barcode. This is because the code is often printed on the outside of a product package, and because the code is converted to dashes or a QR: that makes the code scannable.

Good to know: in addition to EAN-13, bar code and bar code, the abbreviation GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) is also often used to denote the code. A GTIN code is not exactly the same as an EAN code: the EAN code is a type of GTIN code that we use a lot in the Netherlands. So an EAN code is always a GTIN code, but a GTIN code is not always an EAN number.

Why do I need an EAN number?

Want to sell products online through a marketplace that works with catalog? Then you need EAN numbers. The sales platform can then link the product information to the number. For example, you need EAN codes if you want to sell through Amazon or Bol.com.

How is an EAN code constructed?

An example of an EAN code, is as follows: 8711999123450.

  • The first two digits form the “system code,” and represent the country of issue. The numbers 87 represent the Netherlands: for the code above, you can assume that the headquarters of the company of product x is located in the Netherlands. Each country has its own codes; for example, Belgian EAN codes often begin with 54. So it does not mean (necessarily) that the product was produced in the Netherlands!
  • The next five digits, 11999, form the connection number. A company can apply for several connection numbers. The system number and the connection number together are called the company number. So with this number, the company number would be 8711999.
  • The five digits that follow form the article code: 12345. Each product variation (color, size, model) has a different item code.
  • The very last digit is the control number. In the example, this number is 0. It does not have to be 0 by a long shot, any number can be in this spot. The cipher can help for when one of the dashes is damaged: that way the code can still be looked up.

What Is An Ean Number (And What Can I Do With It)?

EAN number request

Want to request an EAN number? This is best done at GS1. That, in fact, is the official publisher of EAN codes. You may just be able to get the codes cheaper from another party, but the danger then is that you won’t be able to use them in your trademark registration or link them to your name. If you request them from GS1, you can be sure your codes are unique.

In fact, for Amazon sellers, they must necessarily have an EAN code issued by GS1, otherwise you cannot create listings with it on Amazon. If you do try it with a different code, chances are you’ll wrongly use another seller’s code, or you’ll be banned from creating listings by Amazon. Do you use unofficial codes anyway? Then for every product with such an unofficial bar code, you will have to request an official one from GS1. It saves a lot of work if you get it right the first time, that is!

Applying for official EAN codes also involves some costs. You can already purchase 10 EAN codes for 55 euros pere year. So, unfortunately, it’s not a one-time cost, but on the other hand, you only have to request a code once for each product, and the codes are usable internationally.

EAN number associated with a product

You can associate the EAN number with a product when you add the product to your listings on a particular Marketplace. In addition to a product title and description, you will also be asked for an EAN code.

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