Shopify SKU FAQ

Managing a Shopify store requires knowledge of certain terminology, as some terms and names could be unfamiliar. We have covered a number of those in our Shopify Vocabulary article.  

One of the most common terms that applies to many offline and online retailers is the Stock Keeping Unit or SKU.

This unique identifier is not just a random string of numbers and letters; it’s a powerful tool for inventory management, sales tracking, and operational efficiency. Not every retailer will be using one and that’s why there are a lot of questions around it.  Let’s dive into some frequently asked questions about SKUs on Shopify!

shopify sku

What is an SKU on Shopify? 

A SKU is a unique code assigned to each product variant in a Shopify store. It is used to track inventory and sales and can be customised to fit your store’s organisational system. SKU codes are not unique to Shopify and they can be used by any online or offline retailer.

What does SKU usually look like?

An SKU, or Stock Keeping Unit, is typically an alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies each product in a retailer’s inventory. The format of an SKU can vary depending on the retailer’s preferences and needs, but it often includes information about the product’s attributes such as brand, size, colour, or other relevant details.

Length: SKUs should be kept as short as possible while still providing enough information. They typically range from 4 to 16 characters.

For example, a retailer selling apparel might use SKU formats like BRND-SIZE-COLOR, where BRND stands for the brand, SIZE for the size of the item, and COLOR for the colour. So, a blue shirt from brand XYZ in size medium could have an SKU like XYZ-M-BLU.

Can two products have the same SKU on Shopify? 

Shopify allows multiple products or product variations to have the same SKU. However, using the same SKU should be avoided as each product on Shopify or any other online or offline shop should have a unique SKU. This uniqueness ensures that each item can be accurately tracked and managed throughout the store’s operations.

Why is Shopify creating duplicate SKUs? 

Shopify itself doesn’t create duplicate SKUs. If you’re encountering duplicates, it might be due to manual entry errors, manual product upload or bulk importing products without proper SKU management. Certain apps can control SKU creation and therefore can create duplicates too. It’s essential to review your processes, data entry and apps to prevent duplication.

Does Shopify generate SKUs? 

Shopify does not automatically generate SKUs. You must create them yourself. There are third-party apps available in the Shopify App Store that can generate SKUs for you. Check this one out: SKU Generator.

What is the importance of an SKU on Shopify? 

SKUs are vital for inventory management, helping you keep track of stock levels, fulfil orders accurately, and analyse sales patterns. They also allow to sync or match products to external integrations or sales channels, for example, Amazon or Etsy.

Do I need a SKU for Shopify? 

While not mandatory, having SKUs is highly recommended for better inventory control and to streamline your business operations. Most of the smaller shops with easier set-up won’t require SKUs.

How to add a SKU in Shopify? 

To add an SKU, go to your Shopify admin panel, select ‘Products,’ choose a product, and then enter the SKU in the ‘Inventory’ section of the product details.

How to use SKUs in Shopify? 

Use SKUs to track inventory, organise products, and analyse sales data. They can also be used to quickly find products in your admin panel or POS system.

How to show SKUs in Shopify? 

SKUs can be displayed on product pages, in the cart, and on invoices by adjusting your theme settings or using apps that enhance SKU visibility. To show SKUs in Shopify, you should log in to your Shopify account and navigate to the Products section. Select the product for which you want to display the SKU. Scroll down to the Inventory section and click on the “SKU” field. Enter the SKU number for the product and save your changes. Check whether SKU is displayed. 

If you’re using the Shopify 2.0 Dawn theme or other free themes, there are tutorials available that show how to display the SKU number on product pages using custom liquid blocks and JavaScript for products with and without variants. Some themes will show SKU on a product page by default, others may need Shopify developer support to do those changes.

Do customers see the SKU on Shopify? 

Customers can see SKUs if you choose to display them on your product pages or during checkout. This is optional and can be controlled through your theme settings.

Does Shopify have an SKU barcode generator? 

Shopify offers a free online barcode generator that allows you to create and print custom barcodes for your products. You can use this tool to generate barcodes by entering the text or data you want to appear along with your barcode and your email address. After submitting, you can download the new barcode as a PNG file.

Additionally, there are apps available in the Shopify App Store that can help you generate SKUs and barcodes. For example, SKUGen is an app that allows you to generate SKUs and barcodes using product data, and print product labels with customisable templates. 

Another app, Easy SKU and Barcode Generator, simplifies the process of generating SKU codes and barcodes for your products with a user-friendly interface.

These tools are designed to be fast and easy to use, helping you to track and organize your products efficiently, integrate with your point of sale (POS), and improve the checkout experience for your customers.

How to link old SKUs to new SKUs on Shopify? 

Linking old SKUs to new SKUs on Shopify can be managed through a few different methods.

  • Manual update: Manually update the SKU fields for each product variant in your Shopify admin to reflect the new SKUs.

  • Use a CSV file: Export your products to a CSV file, update the SKUs in the file, and then import it back into Shopify.

  • Apps and Integrations: Utilise Shopify apps that offer advanced inventory and SKU management. For example, apps like Bundle Builder can help you create bundles that use individual product SKUs without creating a new SKU code. Another app, Stocklink, might be useful for triggering inventory updates based on orders.

Can I sort my Shopify products by SKU? 

Sorting products by SKU directly within the Shopify collection is not a built-in feature. However, there are a few workarounds to achieve this:

Manual Sorting: You can use the manual sort feature to sort products by SKU. Here’s a trick that some users with large product catalogues have found helpful

  • Set the sort option to sort by Product title A-Z.

  • Export your complete product list and make a backup copy.

  • Using Excel - add SKU to the beginning of your Product titles.

  • Import your product list back with the new Product title having SKU in front.

  • Now when you look at your Collection - it will be sorted by SKU since you added that to the front of your title name.

  • Change Sort order to Manual - it will now start your manual sort in SKU order.

  • Now go back and import the original export you did in step. This will take the SKU back out of the Product title. The manual sort order will not change when you do this so it will still be in order by SKU.

Product Type Field: Another workaround is to use the ‘Product Type’ field to sort by SKU if you do not use this field for other purposes.

For more detailed steps or alternative methods, you may want to consult with a Shopify expert, like us, who can provide tailored solutions for your store’s needs.

How to track inventory on Shopify by SKU? 

Shopify’s inventory management system allows you to track inventory levels by SKU, set up inventory alerts, and generate reports based on SKU performance.

Why can’t the SKU field be blank on Shopify? 

Shopify allows for a blank SKU field, therefore if you are seeing this error, you may want try the following solution. Try entering SKU as the first entry.  Make SKU the first text entry, save it as a draft and then add all the other product info.

How to print SKU labels on Shopify? 

You can print SKU labels using the Retail Barcode Labels app provided by Shopify or other label printing apps available in the Shopify App Store. You will have to install the app, create a label template in the app by choosing the information to display, and the layout. You will then assign barcodes to your products within the app. You can create barcodes for specific products or all products, and choose whether to replace existing barcodes or not.

While Shopify’s app primarily focuses on barcodes, you can use the same process for printing SKU labels, as SKUs can be included in the barcode labels for inventory management and product identification purposes.

How to remove an SKU from a product page on Shopify? 

To remove an SKU from a product page, edit the product details in your Shopify admin panel and delete the SKU from the ‘Inventory’ section