SKU and Alternate SKU Identification

SKU and Alternate SKU Identification

SKU is an acronym for “stock keeping unit,” and it is used as the generic identity for the product number, part number, item number, etc. Essentially, a SKU is the key unique identifier for an item stocked in a warehouse or distribution center.

Often, alternative SKU identification is used to extend this unique identifier to other organizations or offer it in different formats for ease of operation and verification. Most distributors and manufacturers have internal SKU part or product numbers, but they also need to be able to identify parts using alternate identifiers, such as a vendor’s part number, a universal product code (UPC), standard case code (SCC), or other secondary form of identification.

Intek’s solutions allow many alternate, or alias, stock identifiers related to the primary SKU used by an organization. Our solution is so flexible we can handle multiple identifiers from each vendor, and down to the carton / contain size holding the product. For example it is common to distribute the exact same product from multiple vendors where each has their own stock identifier, and sometimes, different inner packs or case quantities!

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Benefits of SKU and Alternate SKU Identification

The most common alternate SKU identifier is a UPC, which is used extensively in grocery and other retail operations. Every time a bar code is scanned, the UPC is being used as it is part of the bar code. That UPC is an alternate SKU identifier within the system and is cross referenced to the unique internal SKU/part number. Most manufacturers and distributors have their own internal part numbers, but they also may have alternate identifiers for those part numbers.  

Many manufacturers and distributors use notes fields in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and ERP warehouse management software (WMS) module software solutions to record alternate SKU identifiers. This requires manual verification of the alternate number—a process that is not ideal because it is inefficient, slow, and prone to errors. A better solution is to use a WMS, WES, or WCS capabilities  with an unlimited number of alternate SKU identifier fields linked directly to the primary/internal SKU. This allows for automation which is not always available in ERP and ERP WMS module solutions. Intek and Minerva allow for unlimited alternate SKU identifiers as this is a critical field for automated efficiencies and is increasingly important in today’s more complex manufacturing and distribution environments.

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