Cracking the Code: Top Tips for Creating Effective Product Codes

01 December 2023
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In the dynamic landscape of retail and eCommerce, keeping on top of your inventory management is crucial for the success of any business. Efficient stock control not only streamlines internal processes but also enhances customer satisfaction. The naming of your products via product codes or SKUs can be an opportunity to create easily recognisable and logical codes, offering increased functionality for your team and your business.

A product code is a unique identifier assigned to each product in your inventory. It plays a pivotal role in accurate tracking, ordering, reporting and providing a seamless customer experience. Unlike generic barcodes, well-thought-out alphanumeric product codes offer a practical and distinctive coding system.

Establish a Naming Convention

Create a consistent naming convention for your product codes. This is the first step, and the most important. Following a naming convention makes products easily identifiable, as well as streamlining adding new products. It also puts forward a more professional and uniform appearance to your customers and suppliers.

Avoid spaces and starting with a "0"

The ability to export and import product lists into your inventory system is a valuable tool which can be very helpful for completing bulk updates and reporting. However, programs like Microsoft Excel tend to drop leading zeros and can remove gaps, and this can make the task much more complicated than it needs to be. Save your team the headache and steer clear of product codes that start with a zero.

Identify Date-Like Sequences

Similar to the point above, prevent confusion during data exports by avoiding letter or number sequences that might be misinterpreted as date values.

Practical Length

Strive for a product code length that strikes a balance. Aim for a minimum of 4 characters (for smaller inventories) and a maximum of 12 characters. This ensures readability on product labels and prevents codes from splitting onto multiple lines on invoices.

Create Your Own Codes

While it might be tempting to use your supplier's product code, it's advisable to create a product code that holds meaning for your organisation. This prevents complications in reordering if the supplier changes their product code, and allows you to purchase from multiple suppliers. This also adds an extra layer of protection against consumers seeking better pricing from online competitors.

Stick to Alphanumeric Characters

For simplicity and compatibility across various sales channels, restrict your product codes to uppercase letters, numbers, and dashes. Avoid special characters that may cause syncing issues.

Utilise Common Letters for Categorisation

Incorporate a few common letters as prefixes to categorise and group products. For instance, if you sell tables, chairs, and desks, assign unique letter combinations like "TAB," "CHR," and "DSK" to each group. Use dashes to distinguish product variants such as size or colour. For example, a green mug with code "MUG100" can have variants like "MUG100-GR-L" for a large size.

Minimise Confusing Letters and Numbers

Try to minimise the use of letters that could be mistaken for numbers, such as "O" and "I". This reduces the risk of human errors in recording or tracking these products.

Implementing these tips will not only streamline your inventory but also contribute to more accurate stock tracking, efficient reordering processes, and an overall professional appearance in your sales operations. By investing time in crafting meaningful product codes, you lay a solid foundation for the growth and scalability of your business.


Need help creating and managing your product codes? Reach out to us today.
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