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CG - Understanding Product SKUs
CG - Understanding Product SKUs

Everything you need to know about the basics of SKUs and good stock management practices

Chelsea Kelly avatar
Written by Chelsea Kelly
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.


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.

SKU Inventory Base Requirements

  • SKU’s applied to all products on all sales channels (Amazon, eBay, Website, etc.)

  • Product SKU’s to be unique for different variations within the data set

  • Preferably just numerical and alphabetical characters within the SKU’s with some non-alphanumeric characters allowed like _ , - , etc.

  • Where selling multipacks and bundles these products also need to ensure that they are allocated different SKU’s. Good practice here is to add the number of the pack to the end of the SKU giving the customer better visibility on what it is. (Example, COKECANS-24)

What Makes A Good Product 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 eg TSHIRT-BLK-LRG

  • 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

  • Ensure that the parent SKU of a listing differs from any variation SKU(s). On some sites, such as eBay, matching SKUs here will prevent stock being updated correctly as the Channel fails to identify exactly what needs to be changed.

SKU's For Multipack & Bundle Data

The best multipack SKU data that customers can apply within Channel Grabber would have the same start to the SKU then with the pack size as the end, this makes the products easier to group when sorting both on a CSV and within the system. So a group of packs would ideally look like this;





This way it clearly shows the product along with the pack size.

Bundles can work differently, lets say you have a pack of socks and underwear together in a bundle. Customers typically here add both SKU’s together in this case that would look like this;


This benefits the customer as again the SKU gives an indication of what the product is but also tells us the 2 single SKU’s going into that pack, alternatively some customers just create a new bundle SKU that would look more like this;


Consequences Of Bad SKU Management

Missing 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 import your listings, or 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. Look for SKU, Product Code, Custom Label, Product ID etc.
You need to add the SKUs on the sales channels directly - they cannot be added via ChannelGrabber.


Amending And Importing Existing Products From Your Channels

Products can be downloaded from your channels into the Import Listings section even if they are missing SKUs when you initially connect your channels, as ChannelGrabber can use the Listing IDs to separate them, but before you can import them or stock management can be effectively activated, SKUs will need to be added on the channels directly, then the items re-downloaded and then imported into ChannelGrabber's main products page before stock management can be effective.

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.

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

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