Understanding SKUs

Learn all about SKUs (product identifier codes) and how to make them work for you

Clare Cormican avatar
Written by Clare Cormican
Updated over a week ago


“SKU” is an abbreviation of the phrase “Stock Keeping Unit” and refers to a code that is used to identify a product, much like a barcode or a part number, and is essential if you want to be able to track and manage your stock quantities between ChannelGrabber and your channels.

When an order comes into ChannelGrabber from one of your channels, ChannelGrabber uses the SKU to identify which product or variation has been ordered, and adjusts the relevant stock level(s) on your Products page automatically.  If your stock management is active, ChannelGrabber will then push a stock update out to all channels where that SKU is listed, making sure that all your stock levels on all your channels are accurate and synced with each other.

Every unique item in your inventory must have a unique SKU, and any variation listings must also have a parent SKU, so that the variations have a SKU to be grouped under.


This is what it should look like in ChannelGrabber:


If the same item is listed on multiple channels, or multiple times on one channel, then every occurrence of the same item should have the same SKU, so that ChannelGrabber knows it is the same product and can match them up for stock management purposes.  It does not matter if the title is different, as long as the SKUs match.


If your products and variations do not all have the correct SKUs, then ChannelGrabber’s stock management feature will not be able to work effectively for you.


What Makes A Good SKU?

If your products come with unique barcodes or part numbers, you can use those as a SKU, as long as every product and variation has a unique one.  If you manufacture your own products, or simply don’t have unique identifiers from a supplier, then you will need to create your own SKUs.

  • A sensible approach is to create a SKU that can identify the product without you needing to see the title or other information

  • Keep it concise, as some channels limit the number of characters in a SKU

  • Avoid starting or ending as SKU with a zero, as this makes working with SKUs in spreadsheet very difficult as some data programs remove zeros from the beginning or end of fields.  It’s also a good idea to avoid ambiguous characters such as I, L, O - where it’s hard to tell whether it’s a number or a letter, especially if using lowercase letters

  • Avoid the use of spaces in SKUs, try and use a dash ( - ) or underscore ( _ ) instead

  • Avoid the use of special characters such as “ & / * £ $ % etc. It’s best to just stick to letters, numbers, dashes and underscores


Here are some recommended examples of good SKU structures:

Example Product Details:  Ladies Floral Blouse, Size 12
Suggested SKU:  FLORAL_BLOUSE_12 

Example Product Details:  Men’s Novelty Socks, Alien, Size 9      
Suggested SKU:  SOCKS_ALIEN_9 

Example Product Details:  Kids T-Shirt, Blue, Extra Small
Suggested SKU:  KIDS-T_BLUE_XS 

Example Product Details:  Black Laptop Case


Consequences Of Bad SKU Management

Missing/No SKU:  ChannelGrabber will not know which products are the same and therefore will not be able to link the same product when listed on different channels/multiple times on the same channel.  The system will not be able to update stock levels when an order comes in, as there will be no SKU on the order or in ChannelGrabber to identify the product by.

Duplicated (non-unique) SKUs:  ChannelGrabber will think that any products with the same SKU are the same product, and therefore multiple different products will be treated as one product.  This means that incorrect stock levels will be sent to the channels once stock management is activated and could result in overselling or underselling.


Where Do I Add SKUs?

Most channels allow you to add SKUs to your products, but different channels use different terminology, so you may not always be able to find a “SKU” field.  Here are some of the alternatives that the different channels use:


ChannelGrabber = SKU

ChannelGrabber will not allow you to create a new product without a SKU, to prevent issues with stock management, so you will need to create new SKUs for each item/variation you create.  When you list that item, the same SKU will be sent to all channels it is listed to.


eBay = Custom Label

You will need to be subscribed to eBay’s free Selling Manager tool in order to enable the Custom Label field and add SKUs to your products.  You can view and add SKUs to single and parent products from the Active Listings section, and to variations by revising the product (see separate "Adding or Amending SKUs on eBay" guide)


Amazon = Seller SKU

Amazon do require SKUs to be added to each new product, so if you don’t allocate one yourself, they will create a generic SKU for you, which is just a combination of numbers and letters.  Once an item is active on Amazon, the SKU cannot be changed unless you end the item, change the SKU and re-list after 24 hours.


Webstores = SKU / Product Code / Product ID / Model No.

Titles and rules vary depending on the webstore, so it is difficult to give a comprehensive guide.  If in doubt, speak to our Support Team or your webstore technical support.


Amending And Importing Existing Products From Your Channels

Products can be imported from your channels with missing SKUs when you initially connect your channels, as ChannelGrabber can use the Listing IDs to separate them, but before stock management can be effectively activated, SKUs will need to be added on the channels directly, then the items re-imported into ChannelGrabber to update them before stock management can be effective (there is a separate Knowledgebase Guide on Importing Existing Listings or your Implementations Consultant or a member of the Support Team can offer guidance on this if more help is needed).

If you have items on ebay, Amazon and a webstore for example, you will need to ensure that the SKU matches for each matching item on all three channels.  Seeing as SKUs cannot be changed on Amazon without deleting and re-listing the product, we suggest that you use the Amazon SKU and copy that into the Custom Label field on ebay and the relevant SKU field in your webstore, to ensure that all SKUs match and the products can be merged when imported into ChannelGrabber.  If an item is only listed on one channel, simply add your own SKU on that channel and re-import it, then if you list it out to your other channels from ChannelGrabber, the same SKU will be sent to all listings for that product.


Beware of leaving extra spaces before or after a SKU when copying and pasting, as this would technically be a different SKU if you leave an extra space somewhere, which would mean the products won’t merge in ChannelGrabber.


Amazon SKU Mapping

If you list on Amazon using existing products (ASINs) rather than creating your own new products, then you may find that you have multiple different listings on different ASINs, that are actually the same product. 

In this scenario, we offer a feature called SKU Mapping, where we can provide you with a template spreadsheet in which you can list all the different SKUs that are listed on Amazon, then tell ChannelGrabber which one you want to be the new “Master SKU” and the system can then merge all occurrences of the same item onto one SKU in ChannelGrabber. 

The original SKUs will still exist on Amazon, but they will be mapped to one master SKU in ChannelGrabber, so any time one of the items is ordered, ChannelGrabber knows to update all listings connected to that SKU via the Master SKU.  A separate guide and template is available in the Knowledgebase to provide more detail on this topic:  SKU Mapping


Please note that SKU Mapping only works for Amazon products in ChannelGrabber, as on most other channels the SKU can simply be changed to match across all listings of the same product.


We hope this guide is helpful, but if you need further assistance with preparing your SKUs and activating stock management, please speak with your Implementations Consultant or a member of the Support Team.

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