How to create an sku scheme suitable for my business?

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MelissaG

Owner and Creator at Silver Branch Soapworks
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I feel really dumb right now and would love some inspiration. I'm trying to come up with an SKU scheme for my business. Honestly, I'm drawing a complete blank beyond what they are (soap, lotion, bath bombs, etc), their scent (which I may only use once) and... whatever the heck else do I add? Should I add? What's useful to know? It's not like I have warehouses or several locations or anything.

all the online "how to create skus" articles say to pick 3-4 specific attributes that apply to your items. Which is easy if you have clothing or something for example (S for sweater, B for black, M for medium and then a location number) but it's not so easy for soap when things change all the time.

For example... this month, my lavender and chamomile soap is white, purple, and pink with an in the pot swirl. That doesn't mean my next bath will be designed the same way or with the same colors. I also did one with the same fragrance that was plain purple with lavender buds on top. And other designs.

And I may even stop using lavender chamomile entirely since it doesn't seem to be selling nearly as well as it used to. And the online things say never to use the same thing twice... so if I use lavender chamomile this time but what if I change it to vanilla lavender? Or what if I have both lavender chamomile and vanilla lavender at the same time? They are both lavender, but they need to have distinct identifiers because they are different.

And what if I use a different recipe? Like my oatmeal, milk, and honey soaps are a different recipe from my standard soaps because the oatmeal, milk and honey. So are my mechanics soaps. So how do I define the difference? Do I just add letters or numbers signifying the newly added items? But the oatmeal, milk and honey is an entirely different recipe because I use cocoa butter instead of shea in it also.
And that's just to start. How do I narrow down what applies? Should I signify a letter for each oil used in each recipe? That sounds confusing. Should I bother with expiration dates? Soap doesn't really expire, though it may so there's no guaranteeing that either.

I wouldn't bother but in order to sync my website and square, they need to have matching sku's because that's how the plugin works and I can't find another plugin that would sync it the way i need it to. If I can get sku's set up, that means my facebook store, my instagram, my website, and square can all be synced so that the inventory is correct.
 

Hermit

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You might break it down into:
+Product type
(2 digit: soap, bathbombs, etc.)

+Base recipe type
(2 digits: it might be worth it to master batch 3-4 recipes and stick to them. If you tweek one, stick to the same identifying #. If it's a major change like you're switching from coconut to babassu oil, "discontinue" the one soap and replace it with a new one)

+Scents and defining label defining additives
(4 digits: this gives you LOTS of room to grow and experiment. Since people seem to shop scents first, then look, I would ignore the aesthetic choices and define them based on what is most important to most customers. If you have a soap that doesn't sell as well you could give it the pumpkin spice treatment: make it a limited edition product that gets made once a year at a specific time. Tell your lavender customers about the change so they have the opportunity to stock up to see them through to when you arbitrarily designate it's date. Offer to put them on your "Lavender product mailing list" so they don't miss out on its next release; and only send them lavender themed products so they don't start blocking your notifications.)

As far as dates go, you may want to put batch #s and keep small [labeled] samples of each batch so if there's a problem with the batch you're not blindsided by it and have a piece of the soap to use for troubleshooting. It's standard practice in the paint industry.😄

I know of one company (not a soap co.) that started with a 2 digit sku... but they were so successful that now their numbering system only makes sense 80% of the time. It has taken me 7 years to figure it out! So start simple, but ZEROS are your friends!
 

Hermit

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@WhittanyWho
That would work if every batch you make is unique.
If you have winning recipes and a client base of customers who return for specific soaps, it would mean making a completely new entry on the e-commerce website instead of just updating the inventory #'s.
 

WhittanyWho

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@WhittanyWho
That would work if every batch you make is unique.
If you have winning recipes and a client base of customers who return for specific soaps, it would mean making a completely new entry on the e-commerce website instead of just updating the inventory #'s.
Oh, I see what you mean. I do that intentionally to track my batches after they’ve sold. I thankfully haven’t had issues arise, but I figured that way it would be easier to pinpoint the cause if an issue did arise. It probably doesn’t hurt I do things on a fairly small scale.
 
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