UPC vs SKU codes: everything you need to know

Author Peter Owens

Posted Feb 26, 2023

Reads 5.5K

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Are you confused about the differences between UPC vs SKU codes? You're not alone. The world of retail can be a confusing place, and these two terms are often used interchangeably. Let's clear things up: a UPC barcode is a unique 12-digit number that identifies a product and is used by individual retailers to track inventory and sales. A SKU code, on the other hand, is an alphanumeric code created by a company to identify their products for inventory purposes.

Let's start with the short answer: both UPC and SKU codes are used to identify products in retail settings, but they serve different purposes. UPC codes are standardized across all retailers and provide information about the product's manufacturer and its basic product description. However, issues differentiating between similar products can arise when two or more items share the same UPC code. This is where the stock-keeping unit (SKU) comes in handy.

Some manufacturers choose to hand out individual UPC codes for each variation of their product, while others use one UPC code for all variations and rely on SKUs to differentiate between them. In this article, we'll delve further into the differences between these two types of codes and explore how they are used in various retail settings.

Streamlining Your Inventory with Efficient ERP Software

When it comes to inventory management, businesses must pay close attention to their stock-keeping units (SKUs) and universal product codes (UPCs). Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can help simplify this process. With ERP software, businesses can consolidate data and generate reports to accurately track inventory levels. In addition, ERP software can help prevent inaccurate reporting and data loss.

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Katana is a popular ERP software that helps control inventory management processes. Its intuitive platform doesn't require manual data entry; instead, it syncs data across different channels in real-time. This means that businesses can track inventory movements easily and get a live overview of their product data. Additionally, Katana offers setup reorder points to restock based on shifting demand.

Using SKUs is a common way for businesses to identify inventory. Knowing how to distinguish SKUs at a glance saves time and eases inventory management processes. However, using UPCs can also be helpful because they provide additional information about the product itself. Furthermore, integrating an e-commerce shop with accounting software can ensure accurate financial records based on costing features tied to SKU codes. Ultimately, businesses need efficient ERP software like Katana to identify inventory and streamline their operations.

Choose Wisely: Make-to-Order MTO or Make-to-Stock MTS?

Make-to-order (MTO) and make-to-stock (MTS) are two different manufacturing strategies that businesses can use. The main difference between them is that MTO systems produce goods only when an order is received, while MTS systems produce goods in advance and keep them in stock. In this article, you'll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy and how to choose which one is right for your business.

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Make-to-stock systems are ideal for businesses that have a steady demand for their products. They allow companies to keep a constant supply of inventory on hand, which can improve customer satisfaction by reducing lead times. However, maintaining inventory can be expensive and can tie up funds that could be used elsewhere in the business. On the other hand, make-to-order systems are better suited for products with variable demand or customization needs. By producing only what is ordered, businesses can avoid overproduction and reduce waste.

When choosing between MTO and MTS systems, it's important to consider your business's unique needs and goals. Inventory management is critical for both strategies, so it's essential to have accurate data on sales forecasts, production costs, and lead times. Business tips such as investing in technology like automated inventory management software or working with suppliers who offer flexible delivery options can help optimize your manufacturing process. Ultimately, the goal is to choose a system that maximizes efficiency while minimizing costs – whether it's through increased productivity or reduced waste.

Do UPC Codes make SKUs redundant in tracking inventory?

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Short answer: no, UPC codes do not make SKUs redundant in tracking inventory. While the UPC system is useful for scanning and identifying products at the point of sale, SKUs provide a broader range of detailed information necessary for optimum inventory management and internal item tracking. SKUs allow businesses to track data such as product variations, supplier information, and cost information that cannot be captured by a UPC code alone. Therefore, both systems are necessary for effective inventory management.

Why you need to take your manufacturing branding seriously

In today's competitive market, scaling manufacturers cannot afford to ignore the importance of manufacturing branding. As consumers continue moving towards a more personalized and authentic experience, it's important for businesses to develop a unique brand identity that speaks to their target audience. A strong manufacturing branding strategy can help differentiate your products from competitors, build trust and loyalty with your customers, and ultimately lead to increased sales.

Branding and Marketing Text on a White Surface

But how do you create an effective manufacturing branding strategy? Firstly, it's important to understand your target audience and what they value. From there, you can develop a brand voice and visual identity that resonates with them. Consistency is key when it comes to manufacturing branding - ensuring that all aspects of your brand are aligned will create a cohesive image in the minds of consumers. By taking these business tips seriously, manufacturers can establish themselves as leaders in their industry and stay ahead of the competition.

To SKU or UPC: Which is the Best Option for Your Business?

When it comes to tracking specific products, companies have two options: SKUs or UPCs. If your company sells hundreds of unique products, shorter alphanumeric SKUs make it easier to differentiate between items. However, if you're selling a product internationally, UPCs are recognized worldwide and are regulated product codes.

Likewise, UPCs are ideal for businesses that want to streamline their inventory management process. With just one code per item, it's easier to keep track of stock levels and reorder when necessary. Overall, the decision between SKUs and UPCs ultimately depends on the specific needs of your business.

Are SKUs and UPCs the same?

The short answer is no, SKUs and UPCs are not the same. While both are used to track products, they serve different purposes. A Universal Product Code or UPC is a 12-digit numeric serial number that is unique to each product. It is used primarily for scanning at the checkout counter and helps identify the product being purchased. On the other hand, an SKU or Stock Keeping Unit is a unique alphanumeric code that is assigned by a company handling inventory management. It helps keep track of internal inventory levels and helps with stock control.

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So while they may seem similar on the surface, SKUs and UPCs are distinct from one another. Understanding these differences can help you better manage your inventory and ensure your products are tracked accurately throughout their lifecycle. Whether you're managing a small business or a large corporation, it's important to have a clear understanding of both SKUs and UPCs to ensure smooth operations and accurate tracking of your products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is SKU the same as part number?

No, SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) and part number are not the same. A part number is a unique identifier for a specific product, while a SKU is a unique identifier for a specific variant of that product.

What is the difference between a SKU and an UPC?

A SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is a unique alphanumeric code assigned by the seller to track inventory, while UPC (Universal Product Code) is a standardized barcode used for scanning and identifying products at the point of sale.

What does UPC stand for?

UPC stands for Universal Product Code, which is a barcode used to identify and track products in stores and warehouses.

How many digits are in a SKU?

A SKU can have any number of digits, depending on the specific system and product. However, most SKUs typically range from 8 to 14 digits in length.

What is an SKU and why do you need one?

An SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is a unique identification code assigned to each product in your inventory. It helps you track your inventory, manage stock levels, and streamline your operations. Without an SKU, it's difficult to keep track of your products and ensure that you have enough stock to meet demand.

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Peter Owens

Writer at Chelmer Valve

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Peter Owens is a seasoned writer who has been published in numerous online publications. His writing style is engaging and insightful, with a keen understanding of the human condition. He has covered topics ranging from technology to politics, always with an eye towards the bigger picture.

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