inventory management

How to generate SKUs to organize your Etsy business

How to generate SKU codes that allow you to locate and track your products on Etsy.

When setting up your products on Etsy, you might wonder what exactly you need to put in the “SKU” field and why you should bother.

In this article, we’ll discuss what SKUs are, why they can be useful to handmade sellers, and then show you how to create them yourself.

What is a SKU?

Let’s start with what a SKU is. SKUs are shorthand for “stock keeping units.” and are pronounced “skee-yoo.”

In the ecommerce world, a SKU is a code that uniquely identifies a product. For our purposes as Etsy sellers, we can use SKUs to keep track of products and product variants in our shops.

Why do handmade sellers need SKUs?

SKUs can be useful for handmade sellers in a few different ways. First, if you sell through multiple channels (like Etsy and your own website), SKUs can help you keep track of your inventory. That way, if a product sells out on one site, you can easily see that it’s still available on another.

SKUs can also help you stay organized within Etsy itself. If you have a lot of products, it can be difficult to keep track of everything without some kind of system. SKUs can help you do that by allowing you to quickly locate a product based on its code.

Creating SKUs for your products

Now that we’ve discussed why you might want to use SKUs for your products, let’s talk about how to create them.

There’s no one right way to create SKUs. The important thing is to come up with a system that makes sense to you and that you’ll be able to stick to.

One approach is to start with the product’s name or title and then add on a few numbers or letters to make it unique. For example, if you’re selling a bracelet called “Garden Party,” your SKU might be “GPBR-01.”

Another approach is to use a combination of the product’s category, materials, and other attributes. For example, if you sell a bracelet made with glass beads, your SKU might be “GBRG-01.”

Finally, you could also just use a simple numbering system for all your products. For example, your first bracelet might be “BR-01” and your second bracelet might be “BR-02.”

Tips for creating a good Etsy SKU system

Ensure that they are understandable

You’ll want to ensure that you incorporate all the variant attributes that describe your products: think size, color, type, format etc.

It’s often not a good idea to use obscure codes that need to be deciphered unless these are very familiar to everyone in your team. An example of this would be color codes (i.e 66 for Coral Pink, 45 for Bright Green). If these numbers are so familiar that everyone knows immediately what they mean, then by all means use these in your SKU codes as they will mean you can have very compact code.

If everyone now needs to have a color chart pinned to their workspace to figure out what color to make or pack then this may not be the best option for your code and you might be better with an abbreviation of the color instead (i.e. CPINK or CORALPINK).

Arrange your SKU code by attribute importance

The second thing that makes a good SKU code is structuring your code in order of importance of characteristics. You’ll want to think for each product group what is the defining attribute of the product and put this at the front. This way you’ll be able to read it from left to right and narrow down the exact product in this way.

For example, if you make candles the format of the candle may be the most defining factor: pillar, taper, votive or jar. From here, it may then be the fragrance and then finally the size.

A SKU for a candle maker that is ordered by attribute importance may therefore be:


Don’t use letters that can be misread

You’ll want to try and avoid using the letter O in isolation as it can be often mistaken as a zero. If it is located in a word based SKU then this is fine as it can be derived that it is a letter and not a digit (for the candle example above, VOTIVE-LAVENDER-SML would be fine as it is clear that the O in Votive is a letter).

Stick to alphanumeric SKU codes

Using characters like “ / > < * in your codes can sometimes cause issues in spreadsheet programs, so to prevent odd formatting you’ll be best to avoid these.

Spaces can also be problematic for similar reasons - you’re best to try and join together words and phrases in your SKU using either an underscore (_) or a dash(-).

Use a consistent SKU code format for all your products

From the outset, you’ll want to ensure that you have a consistent code format for all your products. This will make it much easier to input and output your data as well as search for specific items.

Generating Etsy SKUs using a spreadsheet

While you can simply create SKUs one by one as you need them, if you sell many products, you might find it helpful to use a spreadsheet to generate your SKUs. That way, you can easily keep track of everything in one place.

To do this, simply create a column for SKUs in your spreadsheet and then use a formula to generate a unique code for each product. For example, you could use the concatenate function to combine the product’s name and ID number.

Once you have your SKUs generated, you can then add them to your product listings on Etsy.

Just go to the “Listings” tab and click on the product you want to edit. Then, scroll down to the “Inventory and pricing” section, and in the “SKU” field enter your new code. Don’t forget to hit the Publish button to save the changes.

Manage your SKUs and products using Craftybase

Craftybase is the leading inventory and production management software for creative businesses. With Craftybase, you can easily track your SKUs, products, and materials, as well as generate reports on your sales and production.

Plus, Craftybase integrates with Etsy, so you can sync your data between the two platforms and save yourself a lot of time and effort.

To learn more about how Craftybase can help you manage your business, sign up for a free trial today.

Nicole Pascoe Nicole Pascoe - Profile

Written by Nicole Pascoe

Nicole is the co-founder of Craftybase, inventory and manufacturing software designed for small manufacturers. She has been working with, and writing articles for, small manufacturing businesses for the last 12 years. Her passion is to help makers to become more successful with their online endeavors by empowering them with the knowledge they need to take their business to the next level.