Have you ever wondered about those series of numbers and lines you see on product packages when you go shopping? They are called GTINs, which stands for Global Trade Item Numbers.

GTINs are like special codes that help identify products and make sure you’re getting the right item.

In this simple guide, we’ll explore what is the global trade item number and why it is important for both shoppers and businesses. Let’s get started!

What is GTIN?

A GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number. It is a unique identification code used to distinguish products in the global marketplace. It’s like a fingerprint for items you find in stores or online.

what is GTIN

Moreover, this code helps manufacturers, retailers, and shoppers easily identify a specific product, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in inventory management, pricing, and checkout processes.

Global trade item numbers frequently appear as a sequence of numbers and occasionally as a barcode on product packaging.

They play a vital role in supply chain management, making it easier to track products as they move from production to distribution to the hands of consumers.

Components of GTIN

Typically, a GTIN number represents a sequence of numbers and, in some cases, incorporates a barcode for automated scanning.

The structure of a GTIN varies based on the specific format.

GTN components

The most common formats include:

1. GTIN-8

This is an eight-digit code primarily used for smaller items or products with limited space for labeling. It’s often associated with products like chewing gum or small snacks.

2. GTIN-12 (UPC-A)

This twelve-digit code is used in the Universal Product Code system and is widely recognized in North America. It’s commonly found on retail products and groceries.

 3. GTIN-13 (EAN-13)

This thirteen-digit code, also known as the European Article Number, is used internationally and is prevalent on a wide range of consumer goods.

4. GTIN-14 (ITF-14)

With fourteen digits, this format is typically used for packaging levels above the individual item, such as cases or cartons of products.

5. GTIN-128 (GS1-128 or EAN-128)

This format includes additional information like batch numbers, expiry dates, and serial numbers. It’s commonly used in supply chain and logistics operations.

Types of GTIN

GTINs are versatile identifiers, and they can be used for various types of products, including individual items, cases, pallets, and more.

types of GTIN

Depending on the packaging level, a specific type of GTIN number might be used:

1. Primary GTIN

This is the basic identifier for a product as it’s sold to consumers. It’s often associated with individual items on store shelves.

2. Secondary GTIN

These identifiers are used for cases or boxes containing multiple units of the primary product. They help in managing inventory at a higher packaging level.

3. Tertiary GTIN

Tertiary GTIN numbers are typically assigned to pallets that hold multiple cases of products. They are primarily used for logistical purposes.

GTIN and Product Information Management (PIM)

As businesses deal with an increasing number of products and distribution channels, the importance of accurate and consistent product information cannot be overstated.

This is where Product Information Management (PIM) systems come into play.

Elevate your product management with Apimio PIM 

Optimize your workflow and experience streamlined product management with Apimio’s PIM software today.

PIM systems help in centralizing, managing, and distributing product information across various channels. GTINs play a pivotal role in PIM by serving as unique identifiers that link products to their comprehensive information profiles.

Benefits of Using GTIN in PIM

Utilizing GTIN numbers in PIM systems, especially those supported by innovative software like Apimio’s PIM solution offers a range of benefits that enhance data management and optimize operations:

benefits of PIM

1. Data Accuracy and Consistency

GTINs provide a standardized and error-free way to identify products. When integrated with a robust PIM system, such as Apimio’s software, GTINs ensure that accurate and consistent information is associated with each product, reducing the risk of misinformation or duplication.

2. Improved Search and Filtering

In a PIM system, searching for products using global trade item number becomes seamless. Apimio’s PIM software leverages GTINs as search criteria, enabling users to quickly locate specific products within a vast database. This expedites internal processes and enhances customer experience.

3. Efficient Catalog Management

GTIN numbers contribute to well-organized catalog structures within a PIM system.

Apimio’s PIM software allows businesses to create hierarchies and relationships between products, simplifying catalog management and making it easier to handle complex product offerings.

GTINs and Multichannel Commerce

In the era of multichannel commerce, where products are sold across various online platforms and physical stores, consistent product information is crucial. GTINs serve as a unifying element that ties together product details, regardless of the sales channel.

Besides this, Apimio’s PIM software ensures that accurate product data, including GTINs, is synchronized across all channels, reducing the chances of discrepancies, and maintaining brand integrity.

Challenges in GTIN Management

While Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) provide a structured way to identify products, their effective management is not without its challenges.

These challenges can significantly impact product information accuracy, supply chain efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Let’s delve into a few more of these challenges:

Challenge#1: Data Entry Errors and Inconsistencies

The process of manually entering GTINs can be prone to human errors.

Even minor mistakes in entering GTINs can lead to mismatches between the physical product and its associated digital information, causing confusion for customers and logistical hiccups for businesses.


Implementing automated data entry mechanisms and validation checks can help mitigate data entry errors. Barcode scanners and automated data import tools can ensure accurate GTIN input, reducing the chances of inconsistencies.

Challenge#2: Changing Packaging and Product Variations

Products often undergo changes in packaging, formulations, or variants. These changes might necessitate the creation of new GTINs to accurately represent the updated products. Managing these changes while maintaining data coherence can be challenging.


Establishing a clear protocol for updating GTINs when products undergo changes is essential.

Furthermore, maintain a master record of all product variations and their corresponding global trade item numbers. When changes occur, assign new GTINs and inform/update all relevant stakeholders.

Challenge#3: Data Silos and Multichannel Inconsistencies

Managing product information across various sales channels, platforms, and departments can lead to data silos and inconsistencies. Discrepancies in GTINs across these channels can confuse and hinder sales efforts.


Employ a centralized Product Information Management (PIM) system that integrates GTINs and other product data. This system establishes a single source of truth, guaranteeing the dissemination of consistent and accurate product information across all channels.

Upgrade Your Product Management with Centralized PIM System

Employ a centralized PIM system for accurate product info across all channels. Elevate your data consistency now!

Challenge#4: Cross-Border Commerce and Regulatory Compliance

In global trade, adhering to varying regulatory requirements in different countries is crucial. Some products require specific labeling or identification standards, and Global trade item numbers need to align with these regulations. Ensuring compliance across borders can be complex.


Thoroughly researching and understanding the regulatory requirements of each market is essential. Implement a system that allows for the assignment of country-specific GTINs when needed, ensuring adherence to local regulations.

Challenge#5: Legacy Data Integration

Businesses often have existing databases with product information that might not have GTINs assigned. Integrating global trade item number into legacy systems can be a time-consuming process, and reconciling the new system with old data can be challenging.


Recommend gradual integration of GTINs into legacy systems. Prioritize high-volume products and incorporate GTINs while adding new products. Moreover, establish clear guidelines for data migration to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Challenge#6: Counterfeit Products and Brand Protection

Counterfeit products can erode consumer trust and damage a brand’s reputation. Without accurate GTINs, it becomes difficult to distinguish genuine products from counterfeit ones, leading to potential legal and financial consequences.


Utilize GTIN number to create a secure foundation for product identification. Additionally, implement anti-counterfeiting measures like holograms, QR codes, or NFC tags linked to GTINs. Consumers can then verify product authenticity by scanning these features.


Hence, the role of global trade item number is paramount in ensuring accurate product identification and information management.

As highlighted throughout this blog post, Apimio’s advanced PIM software leverages GTIN numbers to streamline data accuracy, search functionality, and catalog management, contributing to efficient multichannel commerce.

By embracing the power of GTINs and innovative PIM solutions, businesses can navigate the complexities of product information management with confidence and precision.

What to Do Next?

  • Sign up for our PIM software today and streamline your product management effortlessly.
  • Explore insightful tips and industry trends on our blog to enhance your PIM strategy.
  • Need assistance? Reach out to our dedicated customer support for prompt help with our PIM solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is GTIN important for my business?

GTIN is vital for your business as it ensures accurate product identification, streamlined inventory management, and seamless collaboration across the supply chain.

2. How can I get a GTIN number?

You can get a GTIN number by applying through a GS1 member organization, the authorized entity for assigning unique Global Trade Item Numbers.

3. Can I reuse a GTIN if a product is discontinued or updated?

No, it’s better not to reuse a GTIN if a product changes or is no longer sold. Using a new GTIN prevents confusion and keeps tracking accurate.

Recent Articles

Share This