How to ensure your product listings have SKUs

Sumtracker only syncs products that have SKUs in your online listings. Listings that have the same SKU are linked to a common product in Sumtracker. If you have the same product listed on multiple platforms, or have multiple listings of the same product on a single store, you should assign them the same SKU. This way Sumtracker will keep the inventory for all your listings in sync through a single product in Sumtracker.

What is an SKU and how to assign one? 

An SKU or Stock Keeping Unit is essentially created as a unique identifier for the different products that a seller deals with. In case you do not have pre-defined SKUs, you may copy the product name as the SKU. You may also generate your own SKUs to identify your products. SKUs are often characterised by the features of the products sold by a seller, fundamentally segregated based on classification and category. 

For instance, consider an interiors store like IKEA, which deals in furniture and lighting – sofas, lights, and beds is likely to create SKUs that denote the characteristics of the product – such as classification, category, and style, brand, manufacturer, etc. So the SKU may look something like this: 02-SO-6S-IKE, where 02 is the classifier denoting ‘furniture,’ SO denotes ‘sofa,’ 6S denotes the style’ 6 seaters’, and IKE is the brand or manufacturer ‘IKEA.’ 

Let’s dissect and examine an SKU number in sections.

First part: This part of the SKU defines the broadest classification. For instance, the first could denote the supplier, department, or category in a multi-tiered retail store. Conventionally, there are two or three alphanumeric characteristics associated with this.

Middle part: The first part is followed by categorization based on salient product features such as style, brand, size, color, etc. 

Last part: The last part can be a string of two to three characters, serving as a sequence identifier. Depending on your needs, this part can be designed such that it tells you the volume of stock for this specific product in your inventory or the order in which you purchased and processed this item.

Consider these SKU examples

Here’s a sample SKU set from an online multi-brand shoe store like JD Sports or Sports Direct to help you understand the anatomy of SKUs:

Brand First Identifier  Style Size(US) Gender SKU
Adidas AD Continentals CO 07 FF AD-CO-07-FF
Nike NI Jordans JO 11 MM NI-JO-11-MM
Superga SU Cotu CO 06 FF SU-CO-06-FF
Vans VA Old Skool OS 11 MM VA-OS-11-MM
Converse CO Chuck Taylors CT 08 FF CO-CT-08-FF
Puma PU Smash SM 07 FF PU-SM-07-FF

We hope this simple exercise helped you understand SKUs a little better. Here are some things to keep in mind pertaining to the SKU naming convention: 

  • Keep the identifiers unique yet straightforward. 
  • Anything between 8 and 12 characters is ideal. 
  • It is best to avoid special characters (!,@,$, or %) in SKUs. 
  • Using the first two letters is the easiest way to form initials. 
  • SKUs should never begin with a zero. It’s challenging to work with SKUs in Excel if you start with a zero since it drops the first character.
  • It would be best to avoid ambiguous characters. Many letters, such as I, L, and O, can be mistaken for numbers.