If you ever want to sell a product on Amazon (that you are making yourself) you’ll need a UPC code, EAN or other form of GTID (Global Trade Identifier). I like this system except for the price, it can cost a company over $10,000 USD to get a full batch ID sequence directly from GS1 the non-profit that issues them. I have no idea how they remain a non-profit because they are charging thousands of dollars for a completely virtual thing, basically a random number they generate. Anyway Amazon offers a way around this by letting small makers of products get a UPC exemption, or by registering with their Global Brand Registry. Both those options though require time and effort.
I found the better way was head over to Ebay where resellers that buy blocks of GS1 codes, resell them. It has a couple of disadvantages compared to having your own unique identifier, namely if somebody researches your UPC code they won’t find your company because it’s registered to the reseller. But the upside is you can get a batch of codes for about $20 for 1,000 and these work on Amazon and other sites like eBay.
Now I was naturally wary of the “too good to true” aspect of buying codes for a fraction of the normal costs. They do need to be real codes, fake codes are detected and products with them removed from Amazon. In case you were thinking I’ll just write some PHP and make my own UPC codes with some random numbers… it doesn’t quite work that way, the UPC code prefixes are registered in a database administered by GS1. Which must be quite a database because apparently they need to charge an arm and a leg to administer it, even though they are a non-profit. I can’t emphasize enough how much I think it sucks that only big corporations can readily access this system in the way it was intended. Why shouldn’t every company be able to affordably purchase a unique identifier? Again we’re talking merely about a virtual item, a unique code. A fairly simple application to write, certainly a big database to administer, but still not something that should end up costing each company over $10,000 to buy into. That’s a great way though to keep big corporations in, and keep small makers out.
There are lots of listings for UPC resold blocks on eBay. It was tough to choose one. I ended up buying from this listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/141795100040.