SKUs for products - best practices?

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SKUs for products - best practices?

Robert Carpenter
I'm building a new e-commerce solution, and I'm trying to figure out the
best way to handle SKUs for individual items that may have multiple
variations, for example a given type of tee shirt may come in 5 distinct
sizes and 5 distinct colors, creating 25 possible combinations for a single
item.

Obviously, there's a few ways to do this: I could use a unique SKU for each
of the possible combos, which would seem to be the least ambiguous way to
handle this, but harder for the humans that will be maintaining the site.

Alternatively, I could have a single sku per master item and a table of
variations on each, but it seems that it might get more complex to deal with
inventory control, etc.

Or perhaps a master sku concat'ed with variation codes could work, like
[master_Item]-[color_code]-[size_code].

Worth noting that some products will be one off, with no variations, while
others may have a smaller or larger set of possible variations (like a hat
that comes in a single size, but multiple colors).

This seems like a fundamental issue, but one I just haven't had to face yet.
Wondering how the wise folks on the list have found to be the best way to
deal with this.

Thanks in advance!

-robert-



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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

Marc Pinnell-3
I have done a couple of sites with this "problem". One client choose  
the unique part number approach, while two others choose the  
concatenated approach. For me, when working with the site, the  
concatenated approach seemed to work best - since I don't deal with  
their products on a regular basis - and they are happy with it.  
However, with that said, it was a large pain the lower extremities  
when one client decided to change their naming scheme! So, if you go  
with the concatenating idea, keep future "style" changes in mind.

Marc


On Mar 17, 2006, at 8:40 AM, Robert Carpenter wrote:

> I'm building a new e-commerce solution, and I'm trying to figure  
> out the
> best way to handle SKUs for individual items that may have multiple
> variations, for example a given type of tee shirt may come in 5  
> distinct
> sizes and 5 distinct colors, creating 25 possible combinations for  
> a single
> item.
>
> Obviously, there's a few ways to do this: I could use a unique SKU  
> for each
> of the possible combos, which would seem to be the least ambiguous  
> way to
> handle this, but harder for the humans that will be maintaining the  
> site.
>
> Alternatively, I could have a single sku per master item and a  
> table of
> variations on each, but it seems that it might get more complex to  
> deal with
> inventory control, etc.
>
> Or perhaps a master sku concat'ed with variation codes could work,  
> like
> [master_Item]-[color_code]-[size_code].
>
> Worth noting that some products will be one off, with no  
> variations, while
> others may have a smaller or larger set of possible variations  
> (like a hat
> that comes in a single size, but multiple colors).
>
> This seems like a fundamental issue, but one I just haven't had to  
> face yet.
> Wondering how the wise folks on the list have found to be the best  
> way to
> deal with this.
>
> Thanks in advance!
>
> -robert-
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
> If you missed the Summit, you can still learn from the best at a  
> Lasso Master Class near you!
> http://www.omnipilot.com/id.lasso?tid=91
>
> ------------------------------
> Lasso Support: http://support.omnipilot.com/
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--
Marc Pinnell
1027 Consulting
web << DESIGN >> print
PO Box 990872; Redding, CA 96099-0872
www.1027Consulting.com



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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

decorior
In reply to this post by Robert Carpenter
The accounting/inventory view from the client may dictate this.

In general a sku often represents an inventory item. Hence if the  
variations do not result in a different inventory "bin" then the  
variations would be handled either as a concatenation or possible as  
an assembly partnumber (i.e. additional line items). The example you  
site would suggest different sku's in most systems.

If there is no inventory in the picture then this is an open season.

Secondly, the sku's should not be intelligent, but they should not be  
unintelligent! Most customers want to be able to tell the product  
from the part number.

Lastly, we have done quite a bit with bar code scanners. So this gets  
back to the inventory issue!

Deco

On Mar 17, 2006, at 9:51 AM, Lasso List wrote:

> I have done a couple of sites with this "problem". One client  
> choose the unique part number approach, while two others choose the  
> concatenated approach. For me, when working with the site, the  
> concatenated approach seemed to work best - since I don't deal with  
> their products on a regular basis - and they are happy with it.  
> However, with that said, it was a large pain the lower extremities  
> when one client decided to change their naming scheme! So, if you  
> go with the concatenating idea, keep future "style" changes in mind.
>
> Marc
>
>
> On Mar 17, 2006, at 8:40 AM, Robert Carpenter wrote:
>
>> I'm building a new e-commerce solution, and I'm trying to figure  
>> out the
>> best way to handle SKUs for individual items that may have multiple
>> variations, for example a given type of tee shirt may come in 5  
>> distinct
>> sizes and 5 distinct colors, creating 25 possible combinations for  
>> a single
>> item.
>>
>> Obviously, there's a few ways to do this: I could use a unique SKU  
>> for each
>> of the possible combos, which would seem to be the least ambiguous  
>> way to
>> handle this, but harder for the humans that will be maintaining  
>> the site.
>>
>> Alternatively, I could have a single sku per master item and a  
>> table of
>> variations on each, but it seems that it might get more complex to  
>> deal with
>> inventory control, etc.
>>
>> Or perhaps a master sku concat'ed with variation codes could work,  
>> like
>> [master_Item]-[color_code]-[size_code].
>>
>> Worth noting that some products will be one off, with no  
>> variations, while
>> others may have a smaller or larger set of possible variations  
>> (like a hat
>> that comes in a single size, but multiple colors).
>>
>> This seems like a fundamental issue, but one I just haven't had to  
>> face yet.
>> Wondering how the wise folks on the list have found to be the best  
>> way to
>> deal with this.
>>
>> Thanks in advance!
>>
>> -robert-
>>
>>
>>
>> ------------------------------
>> If you missed the Summit, you can still learn from the best at a  
>> Lasso Master Class near you!
>> http://www.omnipilot.com/id.lasso?tid=91
>>
>> ------------------------------
>> Lasso Support: http://support.omnipilot.com/
>> Search the list archives: http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso
>> Manage your list subscription:
>> http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso?manage
>
> --
> Marc Pinnell
> 1027 Consulting
> web << DESIGN >> print
> PO Box 990872; Redding, CA 96099-0872
> www.1027Consulting.com
>
>
>
> ------------------------------
> If you missed the Summit, you can still learn from the best at a  
> Lasso Master Class near you!
> http://www.omnipilot.com/id.lasso?tid=91
>
> ------------------------------
> Lasso Support: http://support.omnipilot.com/
> Search the list archives: http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso
> Manage your list subscription: http://www.listsearch.com/ 
> lassotalk.lasso?manage


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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

Hans de Wit
In reply to this post by Robert Carpenter
To be able to have any type of inventory control, you MUST have a squ
per item. BUT if you approach the part numbering scheme correctly, you
can have both.

The part number can have a simple prefix that is the item itself
(SHIRT15JH_____) . If it then comes in colours you can show them in a
field delimited with a comma. The same goes for the Sizes etc. The field
is then turned into an array and used to populate the customer order
entry screen. Based on the location in the array the part number is
created on the fly and matches the part number in the inventory
database. (SHIRT15JH0508) This way you can check inventory based on a
simple pull down menu for both colour and size. As well as use the same
routines for ONE OFF. If the array contains one field display the text,
multiple fields, use a pull down. Someone will ask YEA BUT what if a
colour is deleted. Replace the colour name with the word DELETED and the
part number still stands and the pull down menu can be adjusted to spit
out the DELETED fields in the array.

Little ingenuity goes a long way. Think outside the box. Sales functions
do not have to mimic inventory. I use it and it works great.

Hans.


Robert Carpenter wrote:

>I'm building a new e-commerce solution, and I'm trying to figure out the
>best way to handle SKUs for individual items that may have multiple
>variations, for example a given type of tee shirt may come in 5 distinct
>sizes and 5 distinct colors, creating 25 possible combinations for a single
>item.
>
>Obviously, there's a few ways to do this: I could use a unique SKU for each
>of the possible combos, which would seem to be the least ambiguous way to
>handle this, but harder for the humans that will be maintaining the site.
>
>Alternatively, I could have a single sku per master item and a table of
>variations on each, but it seems that it might get more complex to deal with
>inventory control, etc.
>
>Or perhaps a master sku concat'ed with variation codes could work, like
>[master_Item]-[color_code]-[size_code].
>
>Worth noting that some products will be one off, with no variations, while
>others may have a smaller or larger set of possible variations (like a hat
>that comes in a single size, but multiple colors).
>
>This seems like a fundamental issue, but one I just haven't had to face yet.
>Wondering how the wise folks on the list have found to be the best way to
>deal with this.
>
>Thanks in advance!
>
>-robert-
>
>------------------------------
>If you missed the Summit, you can still learn from the best at a Lasso Master Class near you!
>http://www.omnipilot.com/id.lasso?tid=91
>
>------------------------------
>Lasso Support: http://support.omnipilot.com/
>Search the list archives: http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso
>Manage your list subscription:  
>http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso?manage
>
>  
>


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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

Viaduct Productions
In reply to this post by Robert Carpenter
Or you could just have your own internal reference that has a master
mapping to suppliers' skus.

Hans de Wit wrote:
>
>
> Little ingenuity goes a long way. Think outside the box. Sales
> functions do not have to mimic inventory. I use it and it works great.
>
> Hans.
>
>

------------------------------
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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

decorior
In reply to this post by Robert Carpenter
This is all true.

My point was that if inventory was important then the role of the  
part number used to sell the product must be considered, and have a  
way to differentiate between a red shirt and a yellow shirt, which  
will certainly classify as two items. There are simple and more  
complex ways

More complex inventory uses BOM's or assemblies and as such the PART  
NUMBER may or may not represent an inventory item, and the comment by  
Rich is very appropriate.

Lots of ways to skin this cat

deco



On Mar 17, 2006, at 1:16 PM, Rich wrote:

> Or you could just have your own internal reference that has a  
> master mapping to suppliers' skus.
>
> Hans de Wit wrote:
>>
>>
>> Little ingenuity goes a long way. Think outside the box. Sales  
>> functions do not have to mimic inventory. I use it and it works  
>> great.
>>
>> Hans.
>>
>>
>
> ------------------------------
> If you missed the Summit, you can still learn from the best at a  
> Lasso Master Class near you!
> http://www.omnipilot.com/id.lasso?tid=91
>
> ------------------------------
> Lasso Support: http://support.omnipilot.com/
> Search the list archives: http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso
> Manage your list subscription:  http://www.listsearch.com/ 
> lassotalk.lasso?manage


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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

Clive Bruton
In reply to this post by Robert Carpenter
I don't know how useful this is to anyone, but I know how Honda sets  
up their SKUs for bike parts:

        FFF-BBB-999

Where FFF is the factory code, BBB is the bike and 999 is the  
"location" (actual part). I'm not sure how they deal with coloured  
parts, perhaps there's an extension:

        FFF=BBB-999-RED

Because colours aren't shown on the microfiche.

I guess you could adapt that for your own needs:

        source-style-item-size-colour

Where "style" is something like "t-shirts" or "shoes" "item" is the  
actual line: "red tees with black logo..." and size/colour get "000"  
if they're all the same:

        XXX-TEE-051-0XL-RED
        YYY-BAG-022-000-000


-- Clive

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Re: SKUs for products - best practices?

decorior
In reply to this post by Robert Carpenter
The other thing to consider gets back to the original email. Is it  
easier to have a P/N for every product or concatenate a part number  
from the options? Another factor in this is how complicated is the  
logic for the options.

For example if red tees are only available in Large, then you can  
spend a zillion dollars on configurator software :-)

Our tennis software gets pretty intense because pricing is based on  
many factors for the same product.

Deco
On Mar 18, 2006, at 10:35 AM, Clive Bruton wrote:

> I don't know how useful this is to anyone, but I know how Honda  
> sets up their SKUs for bike parts:
>
> FFF-BBB-999
>
> Where FFF is the factory code, BBB is the bike and 999 is the  
> "location" (actual part). I'm not sure how they deal with coloured  
> parts, perhaps there's an extension:
>
> FFF=BBB-999-RED
>
> Because colours aren't shown on the microfiche.
>
> I guess you could adapt that for your own needs:
>
> source-style-item-size-colour
>
> Where "style" is something like "t-shirts" or "shoes" "item" is the  
> actual line: "red tees with black logo..." and size/colour get  
> "000" if they're all the same:
>
> XXX-TEE-051-0XL-RED
> YYY-BAG-022-000-000
>
>
> -- Clive
>
> ------------------------------
> If you missed the Summit, you can still learn from the best at a  
> Lasso Master Class near you!
> http://www.omnipilot.com/id.lasso?tid=91
>
> ------------------------------
> Lasso Support: http://support.omnipilot.com/
> Search the list archives: http://www.listsearch.com/lassotalk.lasso
> Manage your list subscription: http://www.listsearch.com/ 
> lassotalk.lasso?manage


------------------------------
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