Best Practices for Magento SKUs
- August 03rd, 2012
The SKU is pretty basic stuff for Magento merchants but is also very important when it comes to running large e-commerce websites. A clean, accurate and properly formatted set of SKUs is crucial for your business.
Here is some great information we found about how to deal with Magento SKUs. (For the original blog post by Adam Moss, view the link here.)
Every product in your Magento store is required to carry a SKU (Stock-keeping Unit), a value which must be unique in every case and is arguably your product’s most important attribute. Aside from your product ID, the SKU is used as the main identifier for each product in your store by a variety of methods in the core code.
Additionally, the product SKU is a global attribute which means it will appear the same across any store or website view. This is because, like the product’s stock level, the SKU should remain constant in a back office environment. Imagine a pair of slippers of size 10 in your warehouse – the SKU and number of items in stock will remain consistent regardless of what store or country you’re selling in.
Here’s a few tips for merchants who are setting their product’s SKUs in Magento:
Refrain From Using Spaces - As with other variables such as usernames, it works much better from a programming and data integrity point of view if the SKU is a continuous string – preferably using alphanumeric characters. Check your data for spaces at the end of the SKU, particularly if doing CSV uploads as this has been known to cause bugs with promotion tools.
Don’t Use Just Numbers -When exporting with dataflow, numeric-only SKUs are in danger of being formatted incorrectly. I would recommend appending or prefixing alpha characters as a general rule if numbers have to be used.
Use a Familiar Format - Try to use the same format for your SKUs throughout your store as it will make it much easier to create catalogue price rules en-masse at a later date. For example if you have 50 simple products which belong to a configurable product and you want them all to be 30% off, it will make finding and selecting them all so much easier.
Use Keywords and Attributes to Make them Readable - Unless your SKUs are dictated by your manufacturer or current inventory management system, it’s a good idea to keep them as readable as possible. In some instances you may only have the SKU as a means of identifying a product. If we had some grey slippers in size 10, which is easier to identify: SLIPPERS_GREY_10 or GH29SD10?
Unique Product Identifiers
The Magento product SKU shouldn’t be confused with unique product identifiers. The SKU should be more focused on your own internal inventory management systems, whether this is in Magento or otherwise. Unique product identifiers are generally region-specific and relate to identifying products as a whole rather than relating it to inventory.
The Magento Blog at eCommerce Web Design is full of other great Magento tips similar to this. Check out their blog here.