In this article

SKU vs Model Number: What’s the Difference in 2024?

2.5 Minutes

In this article, we will explore the unique characteristics of an SKU and a Model Number and uncover their differences. Read on to learn which one is right for you. 

SKU vs Model Number

What is an SKU?

An SKU, or Stock Keeping Unit, is a unique code for tracking products in inventory, commonly used in retail, e-commerce, and supply chains. It helps manage and locate individual items. For instance, an SKU for a specific product variant might be "ZHBMPSR6GR.”

Unique Characteristics of SKUs:

  1. Uniqueness: SKUs are notably distinct, providing a unique identifier for every product variant or item in inventory, ensuring that no two items share the same code.

  1. Customizability: SKUs offer a significant level of customization, allowing businesses to tailor these codes with various details, including color, size, or other relevant product attributes, making them versatile for precise inventory tracking.

  1. Simplified Identification: SKUs greatly simplify the process of locating and organizing products, streamlining inventory management across diverse settings, from retail shelves to intricate supply chain logistics.

  1. Internal Use: SKUs predominantly serve an internal role, aiding in inventory management tasks without being typically visible to customers, as they are designed for behind-the-scenes operations rather than customer-facing interactions.

is sku the same as model number

What is a Model Number?

A Model Number is a specific alphanumeric identifier assigned by manufacturers to differentiate various versions or models of a particular product. Model numbers are commonly found on product labels, packaging, or in product documentation. For instance, a model number for a specific laptop model could be "CAA006bt04GR."

Unique Characteristics of Model Numbers:

  1. Manufacturer Specific: Model numbers are determined by the manufacturer and may vary from one brand to another. For instance, Samsung and Sony TVs have different model numbers.

  1. Product Differentiation: They distinguish between different iterations or versions of a product, like iPhone models (e.g., iPhone 11, iPhone 12).

  1. Consumer Information: Model numbers can sometimes convey information about product features or specifications, for example, "Dell XPS 13 i7 512GB" for a laptop.

  1. External Use: Model numbers are often visible to consumers, aiding them in product selection such as "LG Model XYZ-1234" for refrigerators.

model number vs sku

Model Number vs. SKU - What's the difference?

Although both Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Model Numbers are utilized for product identification, they serve distinct roles with unique features. We will delve into these differences below.

1. Purpose:

  • SKU is primarily for internal inventory management, helping businesses track stock levels and organize products efficiently.

  • Model Number is intended for use by customers, helping them recognize specific product versions or models.

2. Uniqueness:

  • SKUs are unique for each inventory item, including various product variants.

  • Model numbers differentiate between different versions of the same product, typically within a brand's product line.

3. Customization:

  • SKUs can be customized to include information like size, color, or other attributes.

  • Model numbers are generally predetermined by manufacturers and may not provide detailed product information.

4. Location:

  • SKUs are used extensively in retail, e-commerce, and supply chain operations.

  • Model numbers are commonly found on product labels, packaging, and product documentation.

5. Audience:

  • SKUs are mainly for internal use, assisting businesses in managing inventory efficiently.

  • Model numbers serve external purposes, helping consumers make informed purchase decisions by identifying specific product versions.

We hope that our SKU vs Model Number article has now left you with a better understanding of the main differences between a Model Number and an SKU.

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 ->