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Creating Product SKUs

Jessica Powell Updated by Jessica Powell

What Is A SKU

SKU used to stand for “shelf keeping unit” and it meant a unique product that lined the shelves in a retail store. Today it means a unique code that represents a variation of a product.

If you sell products that vary in size, color and shape, each one will have a SKU attached to it that represents which one it is. Similar to a product code, it’s a way to identify the variation of the product.

When it comes to inventory and pricing systems, the SKU is used to determine what price to set and how much inventory is left in stock. Convictional uses SKUs for both these reasons, so having SKUs setup is important.

How To Pick SKUs

If you don’t have SKUs for your products yet, it may be daunting to try and come up with unique codes for each one. The shortcut that most people use is to have a part that represents the product, and then add a suffix for each product option. So it ends up looking like this: code-size-color.

Example: Picking SKUs

Let’s use an example:

  • We have two products, a Long Sleeve Shirt and a Short Sleeve Shirt.
  • We need a way to tell our customers how much we have in stock and how much we charge for each.
  • Each shirt comes in a few sizes (Small, Medium and Large) and colors (Black and White).
  • In total, there are 12 different SKUs (one for each product, size and color)

Let’s give each one a code. Say, “long” and “short”. Now, let’s add a suffix for size and color. Usually people use dashes rather than spaces to separate the components of the SKU. So when you put it all together, it looks like this:

  • short-small-black
  • short-small-white
  • short-medium-black
  • short-medium-white
  • short-large-black
  • short-large-white
  • long-small-black
  • long-small-white
  • long-medium-black
  • long-medium-white
  • long-large-black
  • long-large-white

People used to try and make their SKUs as short as possible (ie. “lng-lg-blk”) but most systems in today’s world can handle longer SKU names, and it makes it way easier to tell what product they represent if you use vowels and provide as much context around the SKU as possible.

Setting Up SKUs

If you already have SKUs, or once you have chosen what they will be, the next step is to attach them to products. If you are using Convictional directly to manage products, there is an easy way to do this in the admin. Click on Products > The product you want and then enter a SKU in the “Sku” field under variants.

For CSV-Uploads: There is a field in the CSV template in our Product CSV Uploads guide that allows you to enter the SKU. This will ensure that your products successfully upload with the right SKU and pricing/inventory attached to them. If you have any questions about the impact of this, contact support.

For Integrated Platforms: If you are using a platform to sync your products to Convictional, we recommend that you setup SKUs in that platform. Shopify, for example, has a similar field for setting up the SKU for each of your products. You can even bulk update them, so it’s pretty easy to do once you decide what you want to use.

How We Use SKUs

Convictional uses SKUs in three important ways: it’s how we tell products apart from each other, it’s how we keep your customers or suppliers in sync about pricing, and it’s how we update inventory in (most) platforms.

The SKU you use on a product has to match the one you use on your price list. This way, we can ensure that a particular trading partner only has access to SKUs you want them to have access to.

Likewise, we can make sure they know what you have in stock, and finally that they (or their customer) pay the right amount for the product. Without SKUs, we have to try and figure out which products match which prices and there isn’t a good way to do it.

If you don't have SKUs setup, and you use a platform to connect with us, we will automatically generate a SKU for you.

Duplicate SKUs

As SKUs are used to identify products, each SKU must be unique to the product that it refers to. Attempts to upload/sync duplicate SKUs will trigger an error message that identifies the duplicate SKUs in question.

For CSV-Uploads: Revisit your CSV file and confirm that no duplicates exist. It can help to sort the SKU list A-Z to more easily identify duplicates. Modify all duplicate SKUs until they are unique to a single product.

For Integrated Platforms: Update your SKUs within your ecommerce platform so that each SKU is unique. Once completed, wait one hour for your new SKUs to sync to Convictional.

For further questions or assistance regarding SKUs, please contact support.

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