If you have just stepped into eCommerce, you have likely heard of GTIN (or EAN, or UPC). Understanding this terminology can be difficult. This article will focus on EAN, though. We will see what it is, why you need it, and how you can use it on your WooCommerce store.
EAN stands for European Article Number. It is a unique 13-digit code used to identify products sold within Europe and a few other countries. It is unique, and just like a fingerprint, no two EANs can be the same.
You have seen products scanned using a barcode reader, for example, in a supermarket. That barcode is usually an EAN. They help suppliers, retailers, manufacturers, and customers identify each product, search or find specific products, reduce errors in processing, and create a standardized labeling system.
Why do you need EANs?
Not everyone who sells online will need an EAN. However, if you are selling physical goods in Europe, it is advisable to get an EAN. Digital products don’t require an EAN.
EANs will help vendors and customers identify and search for your products more easily. Once you implement them, it becomes easier for stakeholders to locate your products; you will appear more attractive than your competitors who don’t have EANs.
Marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Google are increasingly enforcing the use of EANs. It is almost mandatory to have an EAN number for anything listed on Amazon.
Here are some benefits of implementing EANs for your WooCommerce store:
- More conversions – Product identifiers such as EANs have been shown to increase sales. According to Google Shopping, stores that use product identifiers have seen conversion rates increase by as much as 20%.
- Better ad reach – According to Search Engine Land, products that use product identifiers such as EANs grab more ad impressions. Their internal data shows that products that use EANs grab up to 40% more ad impressions.
- Improved search engine rankings – Including product identifiers on your product pages will likely increase its organic rankings on many search engines. Customers will not precisely be searching for your products by using EANs, but search algorithms are now advanced enough to associate searches with specific products. It also makes it easier for search engines to match your products against relevant search queries.
- Better inventory management – if you are reselling products from various manufacturers, it is likely the products already have EANs. By not having them on your WooCommerce store, you are missing out on a critical detail that can help you improve inventory management.
If you are starting your WooCommerce store, you may not necessarily see the need for EANs. However, as you grow, inventory management will be a nightmare if not done right. EANs are there to turn the nightmare into a sweet dream. It is essential to use best practices from the start of your business so you don’t face issues later. If it’s challenging to keep track of items in a small household, how are you supposed to manage inventory in a warehouse? EANs are the answer to making your life easier.
If you want to manage inventory easily, gain better search visibility, create some value addition, sell on marketplaces, and sell within Europe, you are more than likely to need an EAN.
Adding EANs to WooCommerce
By default, WooCommerce only has an SKU field and does not allow you to add EANs or other product identifiers. But you don’t need to despair – ever heard of the phrase “there is a plugin for everything”?
The EAN and Barcodes for WooCommerce plugin is an excellent solution for anyone looking to add EANs to their WooCommerce store.
The plugin lets you save the EAN number for each product and optionally display the barcode on both backend and frontend. For variable products, you can set EAN for each variation individually or set a single number for all variations. It has a robust set of features that comprehensively cover all your needs for EANs in WooCommerce.
The plugin has a free version available here and a pro version available here. The main difference between the free version and the pro version is the ability to generate and display a barcode image for your product’s EAN in the front and backend.
GTINs (EANs, UPCs, etc.) and other product identifiers all add a degree of standardization to eCommerce. If each eCommerce store had its own product identifiers, there would be conflicts, and it would be difficult to track and identify products. Duplicate numbers, human errors, and countless other errors would ensue, resulting in returns, refunds, and generally increasing business costs.
That is the main reason for the existence of EANs. It gives a degree of standardization and improves efficiencies by reducing human input.
By now, you should better understand what EANs are, why you need them, and how you can implement them in your WooCommerce store.