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MPNs and GTINs: Understanding the Legalities of Product Identification and Consumer Protection

As e-commerce grows, businesses face new challenges in ensuring product accuracy, safety, and regulation compliance. One key aspect of this is product identification, which involves assigning unique identifiers to products to distinguish them from one another. 

Two necessary identifiers in this process are MPNs and GTINs. While these terms may sound technical and confusing, they are crucial for businesses in the e-commerce world. Let's explore MPNs and GTINs in more detail and learn how to use them correctly to protect consumers and comply with regulations.

MPNs and GTINs

What are MPNs and GTINs?

MPN stands for Manufacturer Part Number. It's a unique identifier assigned by the manufacturer to a specific product. This number distinguishes one product from another, even if they look identical. MPNs are often used in manufacturing and distribution to track inventory and ensure that the correct parts are used in production.

GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number. It's a unique identifier used to identify a specific product. GTINs track products throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to retail. They can be used to identify products at the individual item level or the case or pallet level.

Why are MPNs and GTINs Important?

MPNs and GTINs are important for several reasons. First, understanding MPNs & GTINs helps ensure product accuracy and safety. Using unique identifiers, manufacturers and retailers can track products throughout the supply chain and ensure that the correct products are used in production and sold to consumers. This helps to prevent errors and reduce the risk of product recalls.

Also, MPNs and GTINs help to protect consumers. Using unique identifiers, consumers can easily identify products and ensure they get the correct item. It is crucial for products with similar appearance but different specifications or features.

Businesses can use MPNs and GTINs to comply with these regulations and avoid potential legal issues.

The Differences Between MPNs and GTINs

MPNs and GTINs are used to identify products, but the two have some key differences. MPNs are typically assigned by the manufacturer and are used to identify specific parts or components of a product. GTINs, on the other hand, are used to identify the product as a whole.

In addition, MPNs are typically used in the manufacturing and distribution process, while GTINs are used throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing to retail. GTINs can identify products at the individual item level, case, or pallet level.

How to Use MPNs and GTINs Correctly

To use MPNs and GTINs correctly, businesses need to follow a few key steps.

1. Assign unique identifiers: Each product should be assigned a unique identifier, whether it's an MPN or GTIN. These numbers should be unique to each product and not be used for other products.

2. Label products correctly: Products should be labeled with the appropriate identifier, whether it's an MPN or GTIN. This information should be visible and easy to read.

3. Keep track of inventory: MPNs and GTINs should be used to track inventory throughout the supply chain. It helps to ensure that the correct products are being used in production and that the correct items are sold to consumers.

4. Comply with regulations: Many countries have regulations that require products to be labeled with specific information, including unique identifiers. Businesses should comply with these regulations and use the correct identifiers for each product.

5. Update information as needed: If a product is updated or changed in any way, the MPN or GTIN should also be updated. It helps ensure that the correct information is used throughout the supply chain and that consumers get the correct product.

Benefits of using MPNs and GTINs

In addition to regulatory compliance and consumer protection, there are other benefits to using MPNs and GTINs in ecommerce.

One benefit is improved inventory management. By using unique MPNs and GTINs, businesses can more easily track their inventory and ensure they always have the right products in stock.

Another benefit is improved order fulfillment. When retailers and distributors use MPNs and GTINs to identify products, they can more easily locate and fulfill orders, leading to faster and more accurate order processing.

Finally, using MPNs and GTINs can help businesses improve their online visibility. When businesses include MPNs and GTINs in their online product listings, consumers can more easily find them by searching for specific products or product types.

Legal Considerations

There are several legal considerations that businesses need to keep in mind when using MPNs and GTINs.

First, businesses need to ensure that they're not infringing on any existing trademarks or copyrights. It means researching to ensure that another business does not already use the MPN or GTIN.

Second, businesses must ensure that they comply with all relevant regulations. It includes regulations related to product labeling, safety, and consumer protection.

Finally, businesses must ensure they use the correct identifiers for each product. Using the wrong identifier can lead to confusion and legal issues.

How to Choose the Right Identifier For Your Product

When choosing an identifier for your product, several factors must be considered. First, you'll need to determine whether an MPN or GTIN is more appropriate for your product. If your product has multiple parts or components, an MPN may be more appropriate. A GTIN may be more appropriate if your product is a single item.

In addition, you'll need to consider any regulations or requirements that apply to your product. Some countries have specific product labeling and identification requirements, so it's crucial to ensure you use the correct identifier for your product.

Moreover, you'll need to ensure that the identifier you choose is unique and not already used by another business. Researching and consulting with industry experts can help you choose the suitable identifier for your product.


MPNs and GTINs are essential tools for businesses in the e-commerce world. They help to ensure product accuracy and safety, protect consumers, and ensure compliance with regulations. However, it's important to remember that product identification is just one aspect of consumer protection.

To build consumer trust, businesses must also prioritize quality control, customer service, and transparency. By doing so, they can establish a strong reputation and loyal customer base.