SKU stands for "stock-keeping unit". A SKU appears as a number, often paired with a bar code graphic that can be read by machines programmed to do so. When the SKU is read the item is identified and then is tracked and tallied. SKUs may be used for sales, inventory and organizational purposes. SKUs may be proprietary--created and used by specific stores or chains--or they may be universal.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Do a quick check for a bar code. Bar codes appear as a series of vertical lines (usually black lines on a white background) together in a group. Bar codes may be attached to the item on a sticker. Often stickers are placed somewhere easy to find but not in a location that interrupts the visual appeal of the product.
Look on the bottom or back of the object. If the item is a book, check the inside cover or the inside flap of the dust jacket. Note that not all products come with a SKU on a sticker. Some SKU numbers are printed directly onto the object.
Search for a similar item if the item is a product for sale in a store and the SKU is lost or faded. Like items will have the same SKU number, but the items must be exactly the same, not simply similar.
For example, a green rubber ball and a black rubber ball, made by the same brand and of the same size, sold for the same price, will still have different SKU numbers because their colour is different.
Search for a SKU on the shelf where the item came from. Usually stores that use SKU numbers will put a SKU on the shelf near the item itself. This is a less favourable way to search for a SKU since the labels are often abbreviated and difficult to read.
Ask for help from a store clerk or customer service agent if all other attempts fail.
Tips and warnings
- Sometimes pieces of paper will be assigned SKUs. Certificates of warranty, delivery and coupons are all examples of pieces of paper that could have SKU numbers on them. The steps above focus on finding a SKU on an item in a store, since the SKU on these items are often the most difficult to locate. Usually a SKU number on a piece of paper is obvious and not difficult to find, since bar codes always accompany the number.
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