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FAQ: Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) | A Slice of Vermont

FAQ: Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

Similar to a better known UPC code, Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is another product identifier commonly used internally for inventory tracking and easy-to-understand alternative to 12-digit numbers. UPC code is for machines and SKU is for human.

"SKU must be unique to each product in the same brand/company" is the only requirement. SKUs should not be confused with model or style numbers. For example, if your style name for a red t-shirt is REDT, your SKU for each size should be REDT-XS, REDT-SM, REDT-MD, etc. 

Unlike UPC, SKU doesn't need to be unique universally (ie. different companies may have the same SKU for different product). However, you want your SKUs to help you identify your products easily. One of our favorite formats is 3-letter company/brand prefix - product number - size.

Example 1

Company: Awesome Shirt Co.

Products: men's shirts, women's shirts in 5 different prints

SKU Format: [Company prefix]-[M/W][print number]-[size]

Examples: ASC-M01-XS, ASC-M02-MD, ASC-W03-LG, ASC-W04-XL


Example 2

Company: Awesome Maple & Sauce Co.

Products: Hot sauce and maple syrup in 8 oz and 12 oz jars

SKU Format: [Company prefix]-[type][flavor]-[size]

Example: AMS-HS1-08, AMS-HS2-12 for hot sauces and AMS-MS1-08, AMS-MS3-12 for maple syrups


Do's and don'ts

  • Use any combination of letters and numbers but should avoid letter I, O and Z which can be mistaken for number 1, 0 and 2.
  • Avoid starting with a zero 
  • Avoid spaces and special characters
  • Be precise and consistent. Use BLU and BLK for blue and black instead of BL
  • No restriction on the length but a compact format is recommended whenever possible
  • May use UPC as SKU in some scenarios 
  • Don't use the same SKU for different variants and vice versa
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