Definition of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is a unique identifier or code assigned to a specific product or item within a retailer's inventory. SKUs are used to distinguish and track individual items, making it easier for businesses to manage inventory, conduct sales, and monitor stock levels. Each SKU typically corresponds to a distinct product variant, such as different sizes, colors, or packaging options, allowing retailers to precisely identify and manage their inventory.
Why Are Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) Used?
SKUs serve several essential purposes in inventory and retail management:
- Inventory Tracking: SKUs enable businesses to monitor the quantity and status of individual products in their inventory.
- Sales and Reporting: They facilitate sales tracking and reporting, helping retailers identify top-selling products and slow-moving items.
- Stock Replenishment: SKUs assist in the efficient replenishment of stock as items are sold or run low.
- Product Differentiation: SKUs allow businesses to distinguish between similar products or variants and accurately fulfill customer orders.
- Inventory Management: They aid in organizing and categorizing products, enhancing overall inventory management processes.
What Information is Included in a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)?
A typical SKU includes the following key information:
- Product Identifier: A unique alphanumeric or numeric code that distinguishes the product or item from others in the inventory.
- Product Description: A brief description of the product or item, often including details like size, color, style, or other relevant attributes.
- Pricing Information: The SKU may be linked to pricing data, helping retailers set and manage prices for each product variant.
- Inventory Levels: Information on the quantity of the product currently available in stock.
- Vendor Information: Details about the supplier or manufacturer of the product.
- Barcodes: Some SKUs include barcode information to enable quick and accurate scanning during inventory management and sales processes.
How Are Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) Beneficial for Businesses?
SKUs offer several benefits to businesses, particularly those in the retail and e-commerce sectors:
- Inventory Accuracy: SKUs enhance the accuracy of inventory management by providing a unique identifier for each product variant.
- Sales Analysis: Retailers can analyze sales data by SKU to identify top-performing products, forecast demand, and make informed purchasing decisions.
- Efficient Reordering: SKU-level inventory tracking helps streamline the reordering process, ensuring that products are restocked promptly.
- Order Fulfillment: SKUs enable precise order fulfillment, reducing the risk of shipping errors or sending the wrong product to customers.
- Customer Experience: Accurate SKU management contributes to a positive customer experience by ensuring product availability and order accuracy.
How Are Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) Created and Managed?
Creating and managing SKUs involves the following steps:
- Assigning SKUs: Assign a unique SKU to each distinct product variant, considering factors like size, color, style, and packaging.
- Organization: Organize SKUs in a logical and consistent manner to simplify inventory management.
- Barcode Generation: Generate barcodes for SKUs if barcode scanning is part of the inventory management or sales process.
- Inventory Tracking: Continuously update and track inventory levels for each SKU as products are received, sold, or restocked.
- Reporting: Use SKU data for sales analysis, demand forecasting, and decision-making.
Frequently Asked Questions About Stock Keeping Units (SKUs)
Can One Product Have Multiple SKUs?
Yes, one product can have multiple SKUs if it comes in various variants or configurations that need to be tracked separately, such as different sizes, colors, or packaging options.
How Are SKUs Different from Universal Product Codes (UPCs) or International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs)?
SKUs are specific to individual retailers and are used for internal inventory management. UPCs and ISBNs are standardized codes used for product identification and are often required for retail and distribution in broader markets.
Are SKUs the Same for Online and Brick-and-Mortar Retailers?
SKUs can be used by both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. They help manage inventory and sales data regardless of the sales channel.