What are GTIN, SKU, and EAN?

GTIN, SKU, and EAN are series of unique identifying letters and numbers for products in your inventory. GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is an international identifier that doesn’t change from manufacturer to distributor to storefront. SKU is an identifying series of numbers and letters that can change depending on which business is inventorying the product. EAN is an international identifier that has been absorbed into the GTIN system. All of these numbers are good for building credibility for your online store.

What are GTINs and how do you use them?

GTINs are typically 12-14 digits in the barcodes of product packaging that are unique to a specific product and the manufacturer of that product. Internationally, a GTIN is called a different name (for example, UPC code in the US, EAN code in Europe). Which number you use depends on where your business is located.

The best way to use GTINs in ecommerce is to make sure you include them with your product listing. Listing a GTIN lends your products and your store credibility, especially in the eyes of the search engines and shopping aggregators, which are able to match your inventory against globally verified identifiers. This is big for lending credibility both to your SEO and your advertisements.

Tracking GTINs online can be tough if you have to manually enter them into the system. Some ecommerce platforms include add-ons to scan barcodes and easily add the information to your online system.

Though you can use GTINs as stock keeping units for your inventory, more frequently you’d use a SKU.

What are SKUs and how do you use them?

SKUs are series of identifying numbers that you create for simpler inventory management in your online store. They may include abbreviated details of the product itself, including the brand, size, or color. A medium red t-shirt created in 2018, for example, might read something like “TEE-RD-MED-18.”

SKUs vary from business to business. The numbers your assign to identify your products are useful for tracking your stock. They’re also important for serving contextualized content to a user. For example, the right SKU strategy makes it easier for you to show a recommended product to someone based on the SKU of the product they’re viewing, creating an opportunity to upsell your customer.

If you’re having trouble coming up with your own SKUs, you can always use one of the many automatic SKU generators available online.

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