Inventory management: what is a SKU number?

An important aspect of building a successful ecommerce business is how well you manage your product. You have great software to manage your inventory but your staff mess up with stock and product details on a regular basis. What you need is a way to account for all the products in your store.

In this article, we will tell you what is a SKU number and why it is of utmost importance that you make one for your store products. We will also show you what SKUs can do to your ecommerce business management and how you can add products to your eCommerce website on Strikingly. So, let’s get started with understanding what is a SKU number.

What is a SKU number?

SKU is short for stock-keeping unit, which is an alphanumeric code assigned to products in a retailer’s catalog. It is a unique number that can help in getting instant information of the product. SKUs are assigned to products specific to a business. You can come up with an SKU number for your store by yourself. Each SKU in an inventory should be unique, helping to identify, track and manage all the products with ease.

Also, SKUs are not universal – meaning they can be unique to your business and tailored to what suits you best.

Difference between SKUs and UPCs

SKUs are often confused with UPCs. But these codes are quite different once you know what it is. UPC or known as Universal Product Code is a standardized barcode that gives a vivid description of the products. On the other hand, SKU or Stock Keeping Unit is a specific number assigned by the store or the company for keeping a tab on the stock and also the price of the various products.

Well, this definition might not tell you how exactly they are different from each other. Check out this table to get an idea of how SKU are different from UPC.

Difference between SKUs and UPCs

What is a SKU number used for?

In business terms, SKU numbers allow businesses to track product information and manage the inventory for the product. In an inventory management system, it improves the shopping experience by streamlining checkout, and helps boost profits by eliminating human inventory errors.

This is just one of many things that an SKU number can help your business with. Here are some things SKUs can be useful for.

• Store appearance and shopping experience

If a customer walks into your store and finds it hard to get what they came for, they might not come back again. A SKU number lets you organize and map your products. It will help your staff find the product with ease improving customer service and likewise improve the overall customer shopping experience at your store. You can track products by item type, department, collection, or vendor so that you can organize and find products easily in your online store and in your warehouse.

• Merchandising

SKUs have also revolutionized the way store merchandising is done. You won't ever have to worry about that one product lying in your warehouse that you forgot about. You can now break down your stock into categories based on your inventory. You can, for example, track customer purchases according to customer type (adult, teens, babies) or if you have supplementary inventory, branch further into more product details such as men, women, teens, pre-teens, and then to size (S, M, L, XL). Assigning SKU numbers gives you an accurate update on every product in your store, helping you to sell quickly and efficiently.

• Customer checkout and service

SKUs can enhance customer experience in more ways than one. A well-constructed SKU can streamline customer service and make checkouts smooth and error-free. You don’t have to worry about getting the wrong items or the staff mixing up the products prices. Your product SKU will ensure that your inventory and pricing is always spot on.

• Inventory management and profits

Inventory management is an essential part of business management. Losses due to errors in data management do not seem like a lot but over time can directly reflect on your profits. The best way to avoid the mess is to get simple SKU code for each of your products. This way, if you need information on stock, sale, storage is at your fingertips.

These are just some of the ways SKUs are helping your business. To realize what is a SKU number capable of, you will need to utilize it for your online store and experience the benefits yourself.

What is a SKU number generator?

Now that you know what is a SKU number used for, it should be easier to understand how to use SKU numbers for your products. A stock keeping unit generator will automatically generate an SKU number for your product according to the description you provide. It is much faster than assigning SKU numbers yourself. Though you have a lot of great software that can create SKU numbers for your store products, it is always useful to know what is a SKU number and how it is made. Building your own SKU number also gives you more control over the SKUs created and lets you have better knowledge about your online store products.

Though the name seems complicated, once you know what is a SKU number, it is rather easy to create. Let’s walk you through the process.

  • Unlike USP code, SKUs aren’t universal. So you can make it anything you want to.Just remember to make it unique for the products throughout your store (even when you have multiple outlets). Construct SKUs that favor simplicity and reduce the hassle for both customers and staff.
  • Start the SKU at the top level identifier, meaning, you need to start with the most important information. This is mostly the category of the product.
  • The next characters are used to assign unique identifiers about your product like color, texture, size, etc.
  • The last character is a sequential serial number that will help you identify how old or new the product is.

If we take an example of a clothing product, say a blue, medium sized jacket for women, the SKU number will look something like this: WW-JK-Bl-M-001

It's not enough that you understand what is a SKU number and create it for your product. If you want to have all your products experience maximum sales, you need to list all of your products on your online store and so that customers have more choices to buy from.

Add products to your online store

Strikingly makes maintaining your ecommerce store a walk in the park. You can add products to your online store in two ways.

1. Import products from CSV

Once you’re on the website template customization page, click on ‘Store’ on the left hand side of the screen. Under the store section, go to the products page. There, on the upper right corner of the window, you will find an icon with three dots. Click it and choose “Import Products”.

A popup will appear on the screen that will prompt upload the CSV file. You can also click on ‘view tutorial’ to check out how to import products.

Manage your online store on Strikingly

Image taken from Strikingly

2. Add products manually

Add up to 500 products on your Strikingly online store

Image taken from Strikingly

Here instead of uploading the CSV file, you will have to click on ‘Add New Product’ in the product page. That will take you to a page where you can choose what type of product you can add, physical goods, services or digital products.

The image shown above is what you will see next. Here you need to add details about the product such as the product name, description, prices, etc You can also add the SKU details such as color, size, quantity, dimensions, and also specify the deadstock in your inventory.

Adding products to your Strikingly online store

Image taken from Strikingly

From the image above, you can see the setting used to add products to your ecommerce website. First, add the product name. Make sure that it is specific and spelt correctly.

Add an eye-catching image. Make sure as well to select a high-quality photograph where the subject is the product alone, in a simple background.

accept payments

Image taken from Strikingly

Once done, you can assign the products to their respective categories. Save all your preferences and finalize your store by adding payment channels allowing customers to make online payments. You can also notify customers of new products and updates by sending them automated alerts or emails.

So there you have it. You not only know what is a SKU number but have also understood how it is different from UPC. With this new-found knowledge, you can improve inventory and product management on your online store. This can have a direct effect on your business, leading to more sales and improved profits. But having SKUs are just one of many ways in which you can organize your business and streamline your processes to draw more profit. Strikingly understands entrepreneurial needs from a business website and offers a range of ecommerce website building solutions that provides the ultimate shopping experience.