Amazon Product Listings – What’s an ASIN?

We deal with a number of merchants on Amazon Seller Central and over the course of the last year have gone through a number of set-ups.  There is no doubting the complexity of listing on Amazon compared to other listing websites, simply because of the depth of detail that is either mandatory or useful supplementary information that enables better positioning.

Without going into all this potential extra attribute data, one of the key elements of the whole listing process is the importance of the Amazon Identification Number (or ASIN).  Every product successfully listed on Amazon has a unique ASIN applied to it.   Where a number of merchants are selling exactly the same product, then this value is how the results are put together so that Amazon users can see all seller.  If you look at any product on Amazon the ASIN value is displayed.   Behind that number (and not visible) will be a barcode or other unique product identifier such as an ISBN.

On first loading a product with a barcode (EAN), into Amazon without a known ASIN, Amazon will trawl its inventory and initially try and match your products.  If it finds a barcode that matches it then looks at the title/description of your product and see if that corresponds.  Often at this point it won’t; you will have a mismatch and that will be thrown out on an error report which then has to actioned.

You now need to verify that the product is the same as that suggested by Amazon as the potential ASIN match, and if it is, you can supply the product with the ASIN suggested by Amazon next time round.

However, what we have seen occasionally is that when a product has been submitted for the first time (with a manufacturer verified EAN), Amazon actually holds a totally different product on the same EAN. The dangers are obvious if you automatically accept Amazon’s suggested ASIN.  That will then match your product with a different one, leaving you exposed to potentially selling a product you don’t have.

Why does this happen?   We believe that this is a function of past data inaccuracy on the part of earlier merchants.  Where a product is submitted with a barcode that Amazon has not got stored in its inventory, then a new ASIN value is created.  Were that to be invalid or wrongly matched in the first place, then that error will continue until changed. 

The key, as ever, is to have the highest quality of data possible held as part of the initial product submission.  This won’t be the final post on this topic!

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