In this article

What are SKU Formats? [2024 Update]

2.13 Minutes

In this article, we will discuss what SKU formats are, their key components and examples to better illustrate these various formats. 

sku formats

SKU Format

An SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) format is a structured alphanumeric code that includes elements like product category, variations, brand, and a numerical sequence. This helps businesses identify and manage individual products in their inventory. 

Example: A SKU format for a Shoe might be "ABC123-Red-Small-Nike-001," where "ABC123" represents the product code, "Red" is the color variation, "Small" indicates the size, "Nike" is the brand, and "001" is the numerical sequence.

Significance of SKU Formats

Here are key reasons why following SKU formats are crucial in inventory management and business operations:

Efficient Inventory Management: 

SKU formats provide a systematic way to categorize and track products, enabling businesses to efficiently monitor stock levels, quickly locate items, and streamline inventory operations.

Accurate Order Fulfillment: 

Consistent SKU formats reduce the risk of errors in order processing. Staff can easily identify and pick the correct products, leading to improved order accuracy and customer satisfaction.

Data Analysis and Decision-Making: 

SKU formats enable businesses to collect and analyze data on sales, trends, and product performance. This data informs informed decisions about restocking, pricing, and inventory optimization.

Inventory Control: 

By identifying slow-moving or excess inventory, SKU formats help businesses maintain optimal stock levels, reducing carrying costs and potential losses due to overstocking or stockouts.

Multi-Location Management: 

For businesses with multiple locations or warehouses, SKU formats that include location identifiers facilitate efficient inventory allocation and tracking across various sites.

Brand and Product Differentiation: 

SKU formats can include brand or manufacturer identifiers, helping businesses distinguish between similar products from different sources or brands.

Reduction of Errors: 

Adhering to SKU formats minimizes errors in various aspects of inventory management, from order processing to reordering, enhancing overall operational efficiency and reliability.

sku format

Components of the SKU Format

While there is no universal standard for SKU formats, the exact format of an SKU can be customized to suit the needs of a business. Here are some common elements that may be included in an SKU:

1. Product Identifier: 

This component identifies the specific product or product category. It's often represented by a word or abbreviation. For instance:

"TSH" could represent T-shirts.

"LPTP" could represent laptops.

2. Variation Identifier: 

If a product comes in different variations (e.g., size, color, or style), this part of the SKU distinguishes between them. Examples:

"BLK" could represent the color black.

"L" could denote the size large.

3. Brand or Manufacturer Identifier: 

Some SKUs include information about the brand or manufacturer of the product. Examples:

"SONY" could indicate Sony-branded electronics.

"NIKE" could signify Nike footwear and apparel.

4. Location Identifier: 

In cases where products are stored in multiple locations or warehouses, this component helps track inventory. For example:

"NYC" might represent products stored in New York City.

"WARE1" could denote a specific warehouse location.

5. Numeric Sequence: 

A unique numerical sequence that provides a distinct identifier for each product or variation. It often increases sequentially. Examples:

"00123" for the 123rd T-shirt of a specific style.

"98765" for the 98765th laptop of a particular model.

what are the sku formats

SKU Examples

SKU formats that vary from one business to another. They are usually tailored to the specific requirements of the organization using them. We will explore some of them below. 

Clothing Retailer SKU Format:

Product Identifier: "TSH" (T-shirt)

Variation Identifier (Color): "BLK" (Black)

Variation Identifier (Size): "L" (Large)

Brand Identifier: "ABC" (Example brand)

Numeric Sequence: "12345" (Unique product identifier)

This SKU format represents a large black T-shirt from the brand Fashion House, with the SKU looking like "TSH-BLK-L-ABC-12345."

Electronics Store SKU Format:

Product Identifier: "LPTP" (Laptop)

Variation Identifier (Brand): "SONY" (Sony)

Variation Identifier (Storage): "256GB" (256 gigabytes)

Numeric Sequence: "78901" (Unique product identifier)

This SKU format corresponds to a Sony laptop with 256GB of storage, and the SKU would appear as "LPTP-SONY-256GB-78901."

Hardware Store SKU Format:

Product Identifier: "BOLT" (Bolt)

Variation Identifier (Type): "Hex" (Hexagonal)

Variation Identifier (Size): "1/4-20" (1/4 inch diameter, 20 threads per inch)

Location Identifier: "AISLE3" (Aisle 3 in the store)

Numeric Sequence: "54321" (Unique product identifier)

This SKU format represents a specific hexagonal bolt with a 1/4-20 size, located in aisle 3, and the SKU would be "BOLT-HEX-1/4-20-AISLE3-54321."

We hope that this article has now left you with a better understanding of what SKU format is and how it varies across different products for efficient inventory management and tracking. 

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our article on SKU pricing or SKU best practices. 

Get Google Sheets productivity and automation tips delivered straight to your inbox
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We'll email you 1-3 times a week — and never share your information.
Get your copy of our free Google Sheets automation guide!
  • 27 pages of Google Sheets tips and tricks to save time
  • Covers pivot tables and other advanced topics
  • 100% free

Work less, automate more!

Use Lido to connect your spreadsheets to email, Slack, calendars, and more to automate data transfers and eliminate manual copying and pasting. View all use cases ->