SKUs Explained

July 12, 2016

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A Stock Keeping Unit (or SKU, pronounced ‘skew’ if you’re a bit of a pro) is a unique identifier used for products. Often a string of numbers or collection of phrases, SKUs are a concise and universally recognizable way to distinguish one product from another As well as being useful for inventory management, SKUs are also essential for multichannel selling. 
Assigning the same SKU to a product on multiple sales channels tells ChannelGrabber that they are the same and should be grouped together in the system. Simply put, if you assign the same SKU to a product on eBay and to a product on Amazon then ChannelGrabber knows to manage those products together.  The system can then deduct stock from one sales channel when an item is sold elsewhere. Magic!
Despite how useful SKUs can be, figuring out how to assign them to your products can be a confusing process.


Assigning SKUs on eBay

There is no way to add SKUs in eBay without first downloading an extension. The first thing you need to do is to download Selling Manager from eBay seller tools. It’s worth having, regardless of SKUs, as a powerful tool for selling on eBay. Selling manager is free, but eBay also offers Selling Manager PRO on a paid subscription basis.
Don’t worry, you don’t need the paid version to assign SKUs. Once you are up and running with selling manager, you need to jump to the ‘active listings’ page on my eBay. In the top right hand corner, you should see the words Customise in blue. Clicking this will bring up the a window that allows you to customize toolbars. Tick the box next to ‘Custom label’ (eBays word for an SKU) and hit apply. With this completed, a new column for custom label will display on all of your active listed products. Click the title of this column, and assign your SKU!


Assigning SKUs on Amazon

Fortunately, SKU functionality is built into the Amazon platform. When you list an item, there is an optional Stock keeping unit field  which you can fill out. Unfortunately, once you have listed a product you will unable to change that SKU. The only way to modify this field would be to delete the listing and then relist the product, a real hassle. This is one reason why it’s important to pick a good SKU.


Choosing a good SKU

A few simple rules to remember:
  • Every SKU should be unique; it’s best to not even recycle SKUs from products you no longer list
  • SKUs should be reasonably short to avoid confusion. Amazon’s limit is 40 characters, while eBay’s is 50.
  • Try to avoid using spaces as they might not be accepted by all systems
  • It’s useful to make your SKU descriptive of your product if it is going to be customer facing, or used to sort inventory. Use the same format for all of your descriptive SKUs, and try and make them as informative and concise as possible.
Here are a few examples of products and good SKUs. Remember, each variation of a product is unique and should therefore have its own SKU:
  • A Black, Nike T shirt in size large might be NIKE_T_(BLK)_(L)
  • While the same T Shirt, but in blue and a medium would be NIKE_T_(BLU)_(M)
  • A black Eastpak Padded Pak’r Rucksack could be ESTPK_PD.PKR_RUK_(BLACK)

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