SKU and UPC in Online Commerce

A comprehensive organization system is essential for stores that sell hundreds and thousands of products. You can use SKU and UPC identifiers for this purpose. They're equally necessary for accounting and for tracking product units. What is the difference between SKU and UPC? How important is a “search by article" function in e-commerce?

SKU and UPC in Online Commerce

Differences Between SKU and UPC

Let's start with the definitions of these abbreviations:

  1. UPC (Universal Product Code) is a code of letters and numbers backed up by a barcode for scanning. It includes information about the seller and manufacturer of the product. The first 5, 6, or 7 digits are the manufacturer's code, which begins the labeling of the brand's products. The second half of the UPC is the product-specific code.
  2. SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is the article of the product (accounting unit) in the form of an alphanumeric code. It's created by the seller to track the product within the company. They do it to control inventory. In other words, you can only decrypt the code within a specific company. The SKU encrypts the color, size, product type, brand, and other attributes.
UPC is created according to a single standard. SKU is created according to a system that is convenient for an individual company. Therefore, the UPC is considered universal (at any point of sale, you will see the same code for the product assigned to a specific manufacturer). The UPC is what's printed on price tags. The SKU is used only for internal accounting. It's applied on the packaging of the product as a general rule.

SKU plays the primary role in an online business since it allows you to simplify the search for goods on a site. Therefore, we'll discuss this identifier in more detail.

The Importance of SKUs for Online Sales

For all business owners on the internet who trade wholesale and retail, it's important to add the “search by article" function (SKU) to the site. This option gives customers an important bonus: You can search for the right product by individual product number. This is more convenient than re-specifying a number of characteristics, flipping through categories, or scrolling through products on the page. Having a “search by article" function saves customers personal time, and shoppers appreciate the added convenience.

As for the business owner, the information that is stored in the SKU structure allows you to conduct an effective sales analysis.

If a customer comes to the site for a specific product, you should do everything possible to help them find it quickly. If they enter a few numbers (SKU) and instantly find the product, then they are extremely likely to make a purchase. Thus, the article search function increases sales.


It's worth adding that not only stores can use the label, but also any companies that provide various services on the internet. For example, this category includes marketing agencies, financial organizations, construction companies, and medical centers.

You can install SKU code for any service. The main thing is to remember the general principles of marking: The code should be easy to read and consist of a maximum of 8 characters. (It's better when the most of them are numbers, not letters.)

Setting Up the Search Function

Our intelligent search engine, Evinent Search, allows you to implement “search by SKU" on your site. It also adds other filters for convenient user navigation.

If a person comes to the site and doesn't find the right product according to the article code (or it isn't available), then your site shouldn't have to sacrifice that customer. In order to keep that customer's business, your site must be configured with a smart search engine that will offer analogues. In this case, you increase the likelihood that the client will fall into a “warm" category where they're looking to make a purchase if the right opportunity presents itself.

Evinent Search provides a number of useful options for site search: autofill, correction of typos, morphology, multilingualism, and setting up synonyms. The active use of such system can turn your site into a user-friendly resource, where everything will be extremely simple and clear. So, as a rule, people connect with such sites and always return because of that established brand loyalty.

Evinent GmbH is a Germany-based company specializing in platform development for mobile devices and delivering B2B/B2C solutions without compromising on outstanding user experience. At Evinent, we take pride in transparency and detailed planning throughout the entire process. Our goal is to empower our customers to increase profits, expand their businesses, and drive growth.
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