UPC to ASIN Matching: Good Things to Think About

UPC to ASIN Matching: Good Things to Think About

Knowing and increasing your listing to SKU ratio is a sure way to grow your top line. So how do you determine your ratio? If you’re selling the same item on three different listings it would be 3 to 1. Many merchants have a listing to SKU ratio of less than one to one. This means you have access to a large SKU supplier catalog, but you’re only listing a small percentage of those products for sale.

If you’re averaging $250,000 a month in sales, and your listing to SKU ratio is 0.5 to 1, what would your sales look like if it was 2 to 1 - or 3 to 1? Sales wouldn’t exactly double or triple due to the Pareto Principle – 80% of your sales come from 20% of your items. However, you’d definitely see a big lift! More listings mean more sales. Best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything but the effort you put in. You’re more effectively leveraging inventory you already have access to.

Why Matching to ASINs by UPC is a Bad Idea

So, if more listings mean more sales, why aren’t more merchants going out and matching to as many listings as possible? The answer is because they feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place: either doing it by hand which requires an enormous amount of time and effort – or taking a chance on an inefficient automated solution such as Amazon’s Inventory Loader. This tool can be quite inaccurate as it only searches for matches by Universal Product Code (UPC). There are many downsides to this approach such as:

  • Using UPC to identify a product but failing to verify package quantity. Products offered in different units of measure (6-pack, 12-pack, etc.) are not clearly identified.
  • Amazon’s data is only as good as the third-party sellers who provided it. Some products have wrong UPCs as well as wrong or missing manufacturer part numbers.
  • It’s not uncommon for there to be 10-15 different ASINs for a single UPC. As a result, Amazon’s Inventory Loader can, and often does, match UPCs to the wrong ASINs.

The Consequences of UPC to ASIN Mismatches

As you may or may not know, one mismatch can result in a flood of customer returns, order cancellations, negative feedback, and possibly even account suspension. 

If you match to a listing for an expensive product and publish the price of an inexpensive product you could blow through a lot of inventory that normally sells for more. You’re on the hook for fulfilling the item you match to, not the item you have. Some merchants just eat the loss if the price difference isn’t too big. The alternative is cancelling all the orders and having your order defect rate (ODR) go through the roof. This puts your account – and entire business – at risk.

As an aside, ODR is calculated by dividing the number of orders with ‘defects’ (chargebacks, A-Z claims, or negative feedback) by the total number of orders from the same date range. If it’s greater than 1% account suspension or even closure is likely.

From what we’ve seen, many merchants shy away from using Amazon’s Inventory Loader because the risk outweighs the reward. So they end up veering toward the other end of the spectrum – where an actual person has to drive the process forward and eyeball everything to ensure the UPC matches the ASIN. Even if you hired an offshore team or a group of college interns to do the legwork this approach is both expensive and slow, and isn’t exactly scalable.

Best Practices for Selecting the Right ASIN

The bottom line is that without a system to automate the process and put safeguards in place to protect against bad matches, selecting the right ASIN takes a lot of time and elbow grease. However, if your only choice is to do it by hand, here are the product attributes you should consider (in addition to UPC) to increase the likelihood of an accurate match.

  • EAN
  • ISBN
  • Manufacturer/brand
  • Manufacturer part number
  • Package quantity/unit of measure
  • Price

Of course, matching your UPC to the right ASIN should be your primary goal. But what if there are multiple ASINs that meet your attribute match criteria? Figuring out which ASIN has the best sales rank should be your secondary goal so you can allocate more inventory to this listing.

Plus, if there are multiple ASINs for the same item, why not match to all of them? While Amazon doesn’t encourage duplicate ASINs, the fact is they do exist – sometimes in the same category, sometimes in different categories. Besides, different listings – especially in different categories – enable their customers to more easily find what they’re looking for. All you’re doing is increasing the likelihood they buy from you.

Matching UPCs to ASINs Faster and With Less Errors

Managing multiple listings per item is tough to do without a platform. A duplicate SKU must be created for each ASIN, which makes inventory management and replenishment an absolute nightmare. Activity reports for each SKU must be generated and manually combined to find out which SKUs are selling and where, as well as how many and when to reorder.

On the other hand, increasing your listing to SKU ratio – and all the complexities that go with it – suddenly becomes feasible with the right platform underneath you. It automates this error-prone decision-making and judgmental process and lets you repeatedly generate consistent results from your rules. The result is a very rapid growth in your listing count while limiting the risk of bad matches. 

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Topics: Etail Vantage Point