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SKU-Doku: The Art and Chaos of Crafting the Perfect Product Codes for Business

Creating SKU numbers for products can often be a minefield for many product managers. Crafting the perfect product code is akin to mastering an ancient art form, balancing precision and creativity amidst the chaos of business operations. In this article, we take a look at how to create SKU numbers including SKU naming best practices, numeric or alphanumeric identities, managing variants and how to cross reference company codes.

The Headache: Creating SKU numbers

Ever found yourself in a screaming match with your product numbering system? Maybe your ERP whispers one thing while your website shouts another. Or you've been playing matchmaker with supplier codes and yours, trying to forge a meaningful relationship for your clients. And then there are the system fields that are as accommodating as a toddler's grip on a fountain pen. To alpha or not to alpha, to numeric or mix 'em up – as you peer into the abyss of a new system, you wonder, should I start anew?

Behold, the "Colourful Conundrums": "R2D2Blue" or "ShyPenguinBlack" might have once tickled your fancy for colour names until someone's memory-based reorder catapults them into an interstellar quandary or an unexpected encounter with avian shyness instead of the intended pigment.

And who could forget "The Never-Ending Number", a SKU marathon where 25 digits (1234567890123456789012345) make merry until precise entry becomes a terrifying high-stakes game of numerical precision?

Getting Started: Making SKU numbers for products

SKU naming best practices

Embarking on the odyssey of setting up a reseller or manufacturing business and pairing it with an ERP or PIM system, you're bound to cross paths with the quest for the perfect SKU. Here's what you need to consider:

  1. Balancing Standardisation with Flexibility: You want a numbering scheme that's the embodiment of a Swiss Army knife - standardised enough for anyone to grasp, agile enough to embrace the new kids on the product block.
  2. Future-Proofing: Your system should scale like a corporate ladder – ready to climb as your business grows and the product line expands, without necessitating a complete overhaul of the numbering system.
  3. Unique Snowflakes: Avoid the dreaded doppelgänger scenario where products get mistaken identities. Each SKU should be unique and stand out in a lineup.
  4. Informative, not TMI: The SKU has to hit that sweet spot. You're going for the essence of your product in a code, not its life story.
  5. Omnichannel Harmony: SKUs should act as universal keys, unlocking seamless integration across different sales platforms and partner systems without a hitch.
  6. Inside Voices: Your team should 'get' your SKU speak, but clients don't need to know the secret handshake.
  7. Globally Fluent SKUs: Aim for SKU codes that transcend borders with ease, ensuring universal clarity and appeal in the global marketplace.

Choices, oh, the choices...

Choosing Your SKU Identity: Numeric Vs. Alphanumeric

In the quirky universe of "SKU Frenzy," colour codes like "WizardGrey" and "UnicornPink" sparked more confusion than delight, leaving customers expecting fantasy with their orders. Likewise, numeric SKUs resembling a countdown ("123456789101112") turned stocking shelves into a mock rocket launch. Such whimsy highlights the importance of a practical, coherent SKU strategy to avoid inventory chaos.

When you’re assigning identities to your products, you're faced with a choice. Go numeric, and you get a straightforward yet potentially limited storyline. Opt for alphanumeric, and suddenly, you're the author of a richer narrative. Combining letters and numbers doesn't just add variety; it infuses your codes with meaningful data, distinguishing one product universe from another. This method not only tightens your storytelling (and your labels) but also brings cost savings in printing and data handling. Alphabets act like secret codes, offering a quick snapshot of the product's traits, which in the hustle of logistics, can be a game-changer.

Harmonising the product family: Managing Variants

Every product comes with its own family tree, and in the business ecosystem, variants are akin to siblings with distinct traits. Whether it's size, colour, or material, each variant should link back to the original 'ancestor' SKU while carrying its own unique badge of identity. By extending the base SKU with meaningful suffixes or prefixes, you create an organised family portrait that's as clear as a genetic map, easy to read for both humans and systems alike.

The Art of Code Diplomacy: Cross-Referencing Company Codes

Navigating through the web of company codes feels like translating an ancient script while blindfolded. It's about building bridges between different languages - each representing a company's unique coding system and finding common ground. This isn't just complex; it's a recipe for confusion if not handled with care. Enter PIM software: your 'Rosetta Stone' that effortlessly deciphers, aligns, and keeps a golden record of cross-company product codes, turning Babel-like chaos into a harmonious chorus.

Overcoming SKU Complexity: Smart PIM Solution.

Navigating the challenges of creating an efficient SKU system is no small feat. Thankfully, our highly configurable PIM software addresses these hurdles, offering a streamlined approach to product coding:

Future-Ready Numbering: Craft a SKU system that not only meets today's requirements but can flexibly expand for tomorrow's product lines and market shifts.

Clarity and Compatibility: Strike the perfect balance between SKUs that humans can decipher, and systems can seamlessly process.

Uniform Data Integrity: Uphold a uniform SKU structure across product variations to bolster inventory management and data analysis precision.

Seamless System Synergy: Achieve flawless integration of your SKU framework with a myriad of external platforms, from online marketplaces to brick-and-mortar point-of-sale systems.

Global Adaptability: Ensure that your PIM solution can juggle multiple languages and currencies, making international sales a smooth experience without SKU mix-ups.

Leveraging our robust PIM tools, businesses can transform their SKU management from a potential headache into a strategic asset that supports growth and global reach.

Harnessing SKU Simplicity: Strategic gains with our PIM platform

Nail every aspect of your SKU management with our tailored PIM, a tool that redefines the efficiency of product coding and bespoke SKU crafting. Our PIM system provides the canvas for you to design SKU formats that are the best fit for your organisational rhythm and sector-specific demands.

Mistake-Proof SKU Creation: Automated SKU generation through our PIM software slashes the error rate to near zero, securing a database that's both accurate and trustworthy.

SKU Search and Analytics: With our well-organised PIM application, quickly locate any product through its SKU and extract actionable insights from precise, easy-to-analyse reports.

Collaborative SKU Synchronisation: Ensure that every department from sales to logistics sings from the same SKU hymn sheet, thanks to our PIM’s unified information sharing capabilities.

Scalable SKU Infrastructure: Embrace business growth without SKU stress. Our PIM software smoothly accommodates an expanding catalogue, keeping you swift and adaptable with no dip in system performance.

By integrating our PIM system into your business, you're not just organising SKUs; you're unlocking a world where product information propels your success, day in and day out.

Our Professional Services team is at hand to help you simplify your PIM project including the planning, development, customisation and deployment so that you can go to market quickly, on time and within budget. Get in touch for more information or to discuss your PIM requirements.