Starting up a new Amazon business and learning how to take care of daily logistics and inventory management can take some time. You may be wondering, what is seller SKU on Amazon? How will it help you understand how to run your business smoothly?
The Amazon seller SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), pronounced as “skew”, is a unique alpha-numeric code that identifies each of your products in your inventory. View it as your personal way of helping you identify your products by its attributes, because the SKU is private information and only viewable through your Seller Central account. It can also help you figure out how you can organize your inventory while managing your business. When you know how to use the Amazon seller SKU to your advantage, it can make your life much easier when you need to list and sell your products on Amazon.
Why Does Amazon Need To Give Each Product A Seller SKU?
Now that you understand that the seller SKU is mainly beneficial for a seller, you may be wondering why it needs to be included in Amazon’s systems. The answer to that is that Amazon distributes the same products from countless sellers and companies. On their website, these identical products may appear to customers as if they were all sold by Amazon themselves.
This is why the platform needs to give each of your products a separate seller SKU so that it’s clear to them which seller gets the sale for each order. However, if your products are actually distinct from those of other sellers on the platform, then they can use the same seller SKU to indicate that two different listings you have belong to one and the same item.
The seller SKU is essential for knowing the physical inventory for the particular item that has been scanned. After your items have been listed for sale, the platform automatically generates a SKU for each of them, but this can be customized. It’s all about logistics and inventory management at the end of the day, and keeping track of these things is beneficial to avoid low or even excess inventory.
If you are selling the same product in different colors and sizes, each of those variations have their own unique SKU to make sure that you and Amazon are working together to deliver the correct item to your customers. Without a SKU, different variations of your products will be confusing to both you and Amazon.
How The Seller SKU Differs From Other Product Identifiers
For a new seller, all the different terms and technical jargon can be a lot to unpack. Having a clear understanding of what codes are Amazon-specific or recognized globally will help you manage your business and organize your inventory much better. Before we get into them, it’s good for you to know upfront that the most important codes you need to understand for the sake of your Amazon business are the ASIN, FNSKU, and the GCID.
ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number)
While both serve as unique product identifiers to help Amazon identify your product on their website. The ASIN is a 10-character alphanumeric identifier assigned to your product by Amazon and will remain consistent regardless of where the listing is shown on its site. An Amazon seller does not have the ability to change or edit the ASIN, whereas the seller SKU is customizable. The ASIN can even be searched in the search bar on Amazon and the product will be recognized!
FNSKU (Fulfillment Network Stock-Keeping Unit)
Another code provided by Amazon, the FNSKU is meant for each item shipped out to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. It is essential because without them, Amazon may confuse your products for the same exact products sent in by another seller that use the same UPC. This means that if you have 100 packages of the same product going to the fulfillment center, each one of those 100 packages needs their own individual FNSKU code so that the fulfillment center knows which item will go to which customer. It is only used for FBA products and has an alphanumeric 12-digit identifier that is seen on packing slips and shipment labels for your orders.
GCID (Global Catalogue Identifier)
As you are enrolling your products into Amazon’s brand registry, you will have the option to either assign UPC or a GCID code. If you choose to use a GCID, Amazon will provide it for you. To get one, you cannot enter in a Product ID code, otherwise they will not provide a GCID for you. Just choose GCID in the options and leave the Product ID field blank. Amazon will ask you for specific details of your product and also the SKU, and then they will automatically generate a GCID for you.
GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)
The GTIN is the most widely used standard for global product identification. This means it is not exclusive to Amazon. It is considered a generic type of barcode and is recognized by companies all over the world to identify their products and variations.
To understand your products, you can use either the Seller SKU or the GTIN together. However, you must understand that each of these identifiers is essential for a different purpose. While the GTIN identifies a single product on a global level, your Seller SKU relates to all variations of that item on Amazon’s platform.
UPC (Universal Product Code)
The UPC is also a unique product identifier that is assigned to products by a manufacturer. This means that if you are selling a product that is also sold by other sellers on Amazon, it is the source of the product that creates the UPC and Amazon does not have any involvement in the coding. There are two different kinds, namely the UPC-E which is only 8 digits because it is meant for items that don’t have much space allowed for longer prints of barcodes. On the other hand, the UPC-12 / UPC-A is 12 digits long and is the most common kind. UPCs are only used in the United States and Canada and are purchased from GS1.
EAN (European Article Number)
If there’s a barcode only for the United States and Canada, there is also a barcode that is recognized everywhere else in the world except for the US and Canada. The European Article Number sounds like it may only be used in Europe, but it is recognized globally. Just like the UPC, they have a barcode with only 8 digits called the EAN-8 which are also used for smaller numbers. Otherwise, EAN-13 is the standard and most common.
This all sounds like a lot to take in, but this is what you need to know to memorize it all. The codes that are universal and not exclusive to Amazon are the GTIN, UPC, and EAN.
As mentioned earlier, the most important codes for you to understand as an Amazon seller are the:
- ASIN (Product identifier for Amazon website)
- FNSKU (Product identifier for Amazon’s fulfillment centers and are FBA only)
- GCID (Brand registry code)
It’s worthy to note that the seller SKU and the ASIN are identifiers for your products specifically on the Amazon website, whereas the UPC and FNSKU are used for tracking inventory across multiple sources of fulfillment.
Customize Your SKUs
What Is The Benefit Of A Customized SKU?
Inventory management can be a daunting task for new Amazon sellers who are just starting out. Customizing the SKU of your products will help with better inventory management and minimize errors that can occur while creating a listing or product fulfillment. You can create your own format to the SKU that will fit your business best.
A few examples of benefits of a customized SKU are:
- Tracking inventory across multiple sources of fulfillment (e.g. your home and Amazon’s FBA)
- Helping you and/or your supplier keep track of the number of units produced and shipped. Make sure you know about Amazon FBA packaging requirements.
- Helping you and/or your supplier keep track of various items that are variations of the same product (e.g. size, color)
- Keeping track of units that were damaged and need to be sent back for replacement
As time passes, you may want to consider communicating the common name of the Seller SKU that has been created for all variations of one product. This will help ensure that there is no conflict with any existing ASINs already associated with the same product.
What Does A Good Custom SKU Look Like?
It is recommended that aside from including the name of the product in the custom SKU, that they are also customized with abbreviations you have created for your inventory of products. The best abbreviations to use will depend on the kind of products you are selling.
Listing them with an abbreviation makes product location much faster because as you grow as an Amazon seller, you will start to memorize the abbreviations and identify on your own what products are assigned to them.
Here are some examples of what you can include in your SKU:
- Product name or code
- Your brand
- Service marks, trademarks, symbols
- Manufacturing Date or Expiration Date
- Target market
How Do I Customize My Products’ SKU When I List Them On Amazon?
Customizing your Amazon products’ SKU is easy; simply follow these steps:
1. Log in to Seller Central and navigate to Inventory > Manage Inventory. (To create a new product, click on + icon within this window.)
2. On the left side of the screen under ‘Add/Edit Product’, click on Choose A Product Identifier Type, then select your identifier type.
3. Enter the corresponding abbreviations for your product.
4. Click Save & Finish at the bottom of the window to complete your product identifier.
Remember that a SKU can only be customized for new listings. You cannot change a SKU for a listing that has already been created. Since the SKU will be automatically generated for you by Amazon, you may choose to not have a customized one. However, having customized SKUs can make a huge difference in the way you keep track of information for your business.
There are significant reasons to fully understand the use of seller SKU on Amazon, especially when it comes to customization. Customizing your SKUs gives you the ability to take matters into your own hands and organize your business the way you want to without Amazon’s involvement.
Now that you understand the importance of customizing your SKUs, make sure you also learn how to manage your inventory because SKU management and inventory management go hand in hand in improving how you run your business!