Square for Retail: SKU vs GTIN
With Square for Retail, managing inventory and monitoring your business is made easy — but we understand that a lot of the terminology that comes with running your shop can be confusing at times; especially if you’re just starting out. What is a SKU compared to a UPC? What is a GTIN? What is the most efficient way to track products and ensure you’ll run into minimal errors when it comes time to do inventory?
In order to simplify this process and remove some of the stress that goes along with setting your Item Library up for success, we’ve included definitions of common terms below (with links to some great resources), as well as a section devoted to frequently asked questions from sellers like you.
What Is a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)?
A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is an internal identification number that consists of a unique series of letters and numbers, often referred to as a ‘SKU number’ and/or ‘product code’. Sellers assign unique SKU numbers to products in order to identify items within their point of sale and inventory management system. If you use Square for Retail Plus, you also have the option to auto-generate SKUs through the Square for Retail app on iOS and through the Item Library of your online Square Dashboard.
By doing so, sellers can track the status of an item in their inventory at any time. The SKU number is usually visible to customers, whether it be on the item label, price tag or included in the product description on your online shop.
What Is a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN)?
A Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is the source of truth and used to identify trade items and products throughout the supply chain. GTIN is a term used to describe multiple families of product identification numbers such as:
Universal Product Identifiers (UPC-E, UPC-A, GTIN-12): A 12-digit number used primarily in North America.
GTIN-8 (EAN/UCC-8): An 8-digit number commonly used outside of North America.
European Article Number (EAN-13 or International Article Number, EAN/UCC-13): A 13-digit number commonly used outside of North America.
GTIN-14 (EAN/UCC-14 or ITF-14): A 14-digit number used to identify trade items at various packaging levels.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN, GTIN-13): A 13-digit number used to identify hardcover, paperback and electronic books, as coordinated by the ISBN Agency. The ISBN system was introduced in 1970 as a 10-digit number and was updated in 2007 to 13-digits.
Japanese Article Number (JAN), compatible with EAN/GTIN-13: Japanese Article Number (JAN) is another name for an EAN (GTIN-13) barcode. The first two digits will act as the country code and must be 49 or 45. Just like a UPC, a JAN can be shortened to 8-digits, also known as a short version.
Data associated with a GTIN typically includes all of the details required to catalogue a physical good including item name, image, description, brand etc.
Manufacturers and brands register their product information to databases such as Gs1 to ensure that retail businesses have access to complete and accurate information about products for sale. Learn more about GTINs here.