Quick guide to MPN product identifiers for digital marketers

April 17, 2024

When advertising for products on platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Google Shopping, you’ve probably come across the abbreviation “MPN” or terms like “MPN product identifier.” Learn all about what these terms mean – and how MPNs can help you improve your online advertising – in our quick guide to MPN product identifiers below.

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Quick guide to MPN product identifiers for digital marketers

What is an MPN?

“MPN” stands for “Manufacturer Part Number.” It is a unique alphanumeric code that manufacturers can assign to each of their products. This makes it easier for retailers, online advertisers, and buyers to identify products, which is especially useful when handling large volumes of similar items.

MPNs are global product identifiers, which means they make the products unmistakably identifiable, wherever they are sold throughout the world. They are generally inscribed directly on the product, on its packaging, in its user manual, or in the manufacturer’s product catalog. An MPN usually refers to a specific, replaceable part or accessory. If the item is available in multiple variants (such as different colors or finishes), each variant has its own MPN, so there is no way of mixing up different variants of the same item.

Some MPNs might refer to an entire assembly if it is sold as a single unit itself. Manufacturers often use “model numbers” instead of MPNs to refer to complete assemblies. However, some manufacturers use the terms “model number” and “MPN” interchangeably.

Which types of products have MPNs?

MPNs are commonly used in many industries, especially where it’s essential to identify and choose exactly the right replacement or additional part to ensure a product will work as intended. This includes industries like:

  • Electronics
  • Automotive
  • Engineering
  • Machinery and power tool parts
  • Plumbing and DIY

Some of these products are universal spare parts that may not be sold under a specific brand name. In cases like that, the MPN may be the only way for buyers to know they’re choosing the right part from the right manufacturer. In any case, MPNs are a definitive way for buyers to know they’re buying exactly what they need.

Other types of product identifiers may also be used to identify the same product, as we will explain below.

Why are MPNs important in digital marketing?

Why are MPNs important in digital marketing

Now that we’ve covered what an MPN is, let’s look at how these unique product identifiers can help you advertise products online more effectively.

Adding the correct MPN to your product descriptions makes it easier for buyers to find your clients’ products online. Based on the MPN, the buyer can be confident that they are ordering the right item. This is especially important when marketing products like these:
Items that look identical to one another in photos.

  • Items that are not necessarily brand-specific or even branded (such as wires, cords, or electronic components)
  • Components (such as spare parts) belonging to a larger product, such as spark plugs, windshield wipers, or other car parts.

How do MPNs benefit both sellers and buyers?

How do MPNs benefit both sellers and buyers

If you’re marketing on behalf of a seller that specializes in products like the ones mentioned above, using MPNs in your product descriptions on platforms like Amazon or eBay is a must. MPN product identifiers offer lots of benefits that help keep your clients and their customers happy:

  • MPNs make products easier to find online. An experienced buyer (such as a procurement manager) will often simply search for products by Googling their MPN. The top search results for any MPN search will be links to sites like Amazon where the product is sold. That’s why it’s crucial to include the MPN in product descriptions.
  • Customers are more likely to choose the right product. This cuts down on returns and saves time, money, and hassle for both the buyer and the seller.
  • MPNs build trust. By ensuring customers that you’re offering genuine parts, you win their trust. This helps your products stand out from the ever-growing number of counterfeits and inferior, incompatible imitation products sold on eCommerce platforms.

How do digital marketers use MPNs?

Add the MPN for each product as an attribute to the product description on whichever eCommerce platforms your client sells on. On platforms like eBay and Amazon, MPN is not specifically required, as you may use a different type of product identifier instead (see below). But as a rule, if your product has an MPN, it’s definitely worth adding, considering the benefits mentioned above.

In some cases, MPN product identifiers are a required attribute. When creating product descriptions in the Google Merchant Center, MPN is usually an optional attribute, but it is required for products that do not have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN).

To improve findability on platforms like Amazon, you can also include the MPN in your product name and description text, in addition to the MPN attribute field.

MPN versus GTIN, SKU, UPC, EAN? What’s the difference?

As mentioned above, MPN is not the only system for identifying products. There are numerous product identification systems used in various industries and on various eCommerce platforms worldwide. Here’s a breakdown of the most common product identifiers you’ll encounter when creating product descriptions as a digital marketer:

Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)

GTIN product identifiers are numeric codes used to identify products sold throughout the world. This is by far the most prevalent product identification system in the world today and it incorporates many other product identification systems. When listing products on digital marketplaces, GTINs are required for most types of products.

Stock Keeping Units (SKUs)

These are codes that retailers assign to products for identification and inventory management purposes. Unlike MPNs, they are not assigned by the manufacturer, but by the retailer.

Universal Product Code (UPC)

This is a specific type of product identifier within the GTIN system, which is primarily used in North America. It consists of a unique 12-number code (known as a GTIN-12 or UPC-A) used to identify each product. The code is also rendered in universally scannable barcode form.

European Article Number (EAN) and Japanese Article Number (JAN)

These are regional variations of GTIN product identifiers used in Europe and Japan. EAN codes usually consist of 13 digits (known as GTIN-13). JAN codes are typically also 13 digits (GTIN-13), though some are only eight. Like UPC codes, EAN and JAN codes are also rendered in scannable barcode form.


“Brand” is a product description attribute that you can use to specify the brand name under which the product is sold. Some universal products (like spare parts and universal electronic components) may not be sold under any specific brand name, which is why MPNs and other identifiers make them easier to find.

Google Merchant Center recommends adding your store name as the [brand] attribute along with an MPN [mpn] for products that do not have a brand name.

Other product identifiers

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system is used to identify books published since 1970. Each book title has a unique 10- or 13-digit ISBN code which must be included when selling and advertising books on eCommerce platforms like Amazon.

Some products, like collectibles, antiques, and custom-made products may have no product identifier. For products like those, leave the GTIN or MPN attributes blank in your product descriptions. Don’t add internal codes like SKUs or other identifiers, as these can render your product descriptions invalid or unfindable.

The Google Merchant Center lets you enter a value of “false” under the attribute [identifier_exists] if you’re listing a product that doesn’t have a product identifier. Just be sure to check carefully, because simply adding a valid product identifier – if it exists – will make your product much easier to find online.

Categorize your products the smart way

Categorize your products the smart way

As you can see, MPNs are a great way to help buyers find exactly what they need, while also helping sellers' products stand out from the competition. Yet keeping an overview can be a challenge, especially when selling across multiple platforms.

If you're looking for an easy way to optimize, organize and categorize your products, learn more about how Channable can help with our smart product categorization solutions.

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