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If your warehouse deals with products directly from a vendor, it can be difficult to keep track of all the different SKUs and barcodes that crop up along the way.

Different manufacturers and vendors can use some pretty inconsistent SKUs, UPCs, and the like (trust us, there is a difference between them!) and it can be hard to keep them all managed and organized sometimes.

While the common solution is to develop internal SKUs for each of the products you carry, these can be hard to manage across different warehouse storage solutions without a good plan in mind.

What’s that, you say? You don’t have a plan for managing internal SKUs? Here’s a few tips we’ve come across along the way that may help:


Keep internal consistency among SKUs: If you have to generate your own SKU for items received from vendors to better track them internally, make sure to have a method to your madness. By generating your own SKUs you can control what each number refers to, so depending on your barcode system you can hard-code storage areas, item type, and other needed information into the SKU itself. This will help make things easier on your staff in the long-run when it comes time to start putting everything away.


Avoid cramming too many SKUs in the same area: Mixing too many different SKUs into the same storage area can start to cause problems. While it might be tempting to fit a bunch of different SKUs on the same pallet rack or in the same storage bins, this can lead to confusion among your picking staff and may result in mis-counts or mis-scans. If you stock enough of a certain SKU to necessitate storing it, then you should consider giving it its own storage space elsewhere.


Use internal SKUs on pick lists: Consistency with using internal SKUs can go a long way when it comes to picking and managing orders. If your products have internally-generated SKUs, make sure your staff knows to use them on any picking lists or order manifests, and not the ones provided by the vendor (unless, of course, the products have to go back to the vendor itself). This can go a long way to prevent confusion.


Avoid using ‘miscellaneous’ SKUs: Finally, a common pitfall that many warehouses fall into is the desire to use ‘miscellaneous SKUs’ for smaller items or goods that don’t get handled as often. Avoid these when possible—by assigning individual SKUs to every product, every time, you can prevent confusion and miscounts down the line.

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