Whether you’re running an online store with a massive inventory of products or you specialize in a single product, you need some form of inventory management architecture to keep track of your stock. An SKU allows you to assign identifiers to your inventory and make sure that you have products available for your customers to purchase all the time.

inventory management through SKUs

An SKU number or Stock Keeping Unit is an alphanumeric identifier that is unique to a given business. It is meant to provide information about the characteristics of the product it is assigned to. This could include the brand, color, style, price and size among others. The information it contains is important for retailers to be able to manage their inventory and track the status of the products in their stock.

Note that the SKU is not universal - different retailers may sell the same items (i.e. the same brand, color, and product) but they may have varied SKU architectures that they follow for identifying their inventory. You can tailor the SKU according to what vendors and customers ask about the merchandise that you sell.

In order to manage your inventory through your Strikingly ecommerce website, make sure to do a batch upload of your products that include the product SKUs. Strikingly has a product data template that you can use to create a list of your inventory to get you started. On Simple Store, you need to go to Products > Import Products and click Download CSV Template. Upload the CSV file back into the site to start the batch import process.

batch import with product SKU

How to Use a Store SKU

As a retailer, it is important that you are on top of your inventory and you know where products are going. The information from a product SKU can provide analytics data that will allow you to maintain relationships with customers and suppliers.

In ecommerce website design, a systematic SKU architecture can help you manage your inventory and display items according to availability or demand. For instance, when you can call up products in your system through their SKU, you know when to re-order items that are running low in stock or actively market products that may not be doing so well in sales. SKUs also help you do sales forecasting by identifying products that will likely sell at a given season based on their attributes.

SKU architectures help you anticipate when you will be re-ordering new stock. This minimizes the risk of ending up with nothing to sell to customers. People who always find what they are looking for are more likely to keep coming back. In an ecommerce business for sale where customer experience is important, keeping track of inventory is a crucial component of smooth business operations. The attributes in an SKU can also be used to recommend alternative products to customers. You can suggest a different product for the buyer to try in lieu of one that is out of stock. By the same vein, you can also provide other suggestions similar to this product that your customer might want to try. For instance, if a customer is looking at a tennis shirt on your site, your system might provide suggested products such as tennis shoes to complete the look - based on the product SKU.

Guidelines for creating SKUs

With that being said, how do you create SKU numbers for your products? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Consider the size of your stock

Breaking down your stock into categories depends on how big your inventory is. For example, you might want to create an SKU system that tracks according to customer type (adult, teens, babies) and, if you have a bigger inventory, you might want to branch further into more product details such as men, women, teens, pre-teens, and then to size (S, M, L, XL).

2. Each sequence has to be unique

If your SKU is the same as your manufacturer’s SKU or if there are duplicates across different products in your inventory, you may encounter a lot of issues in accurately tracking your stock. Some best practices in product SKU naming include:

  • Limit the SKU to 8-12 characters
  • Ideally begin with a letter (e.g. brand name NKE for Nike followed by other identifying characteristics)
  • Keep the format easy to understand. Your staff should be able to identify a product based on the SKU.
  • Every letter and number in the SKU should mean something

3. Think of your customers

Do your customers filter products by color, size or brand? Think of how they look for products in your store and use this information in creating your SKU format.

Manage your inventory with an organized SKU architecture and start building a successful ecommerce website with Strikingly today.