In any inventory system, each unique product that needs to be tracked separately for inventory purposes needs to have its own identifier in the form of a stock keeping unit (“SKU”). This includes assigning a unique SKU for each variant of a product, assuming you want your inventory system to report these separately and not all together as the same item. For example, a “Large-sized Blue T-Shirt” would have a different SKU than a “Medium-sized Red T-Shirt”, so we can monitor inventory on these separately. For keeping accurate inventory, having an organized list of SKUs is an absolute necessity.
For many businesses, creating an organized SKU list is done for the first time when they begin to implement an inventory management system. If that is the situation for your business, you have the flexibility at this stage to choose any SKU formatting conventions that you like before you begin assigning them to your products.
One popular approach is to use an SKU format that gives enough info to provide an idea of what it is to the naked eye (not just purely numbers or random letters), while still being concise and short enough to not be difficult to type by hand if needed.
For apparel items with variants, you can do something like: [item name or code]-[size]-[color]
For example: Let's say you have a T-Shirt printed with the words "Be Happy”, and that this product comes in various colors, and different sizes. You could set these SKUs up as:
- BEHAPPY-L-W (this shirt in Large size, white color)
- BEHAPPY-M-W (medium size, white color)
- BEHAPPY-L-R (Large size, red color)
Our system supports up to 40 characters for SKUs if needed, but in most cases, the shorter the better so it is easy to type out if needed. We recommend using basic alphanumeric formatting with the addition of dashes "-" if desired to separate out key bits of info in the SKU, as shown above. We should avoid any other special characters if possible, to ensure compatibility with outside systems that might be integrating with your inventory system (some accounting or shipping platforms have trouble with certain special characters).
For media items like CDs or records, an example format would be: [album name]-[artist]-[media type]. So using a CD called “Best of Beethoven” as an example, you might go with: BESTOF-BEETHOVEN-CD
These are a few ideas to consider, and you can ultimately use anything you like for the list and our system will support it, so long as each physical product has a SKU that is unique. It can even be something very simple and numeric for easy data entry: SKU # 100, 101, 102, etc.