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Tip of the Day

STOCK NUMBER ORGANIZATION

Have you ever wondered why things like social security numbers, zip codes and telephone numbers don't contain letters?  It's because numbers (0-9) offer a better and more reliable way to organize information than letters do, and they are less confusing when read and spoken.  Just try taking an order over the phone with stock numbers that are all letters and you'll quickly see the reason why numbers are better.

When you first sit down to assign stock numbers (sku's, item numbers, product numbers, whatever) to all your products, you should begin by organizing your line into categories.  We'll use a candle line as an example.  Let's say our candle line consists of three main categories - pillars, votives and tapers.  Within each category, you have to specify size and color to order.

Ideally, every item in your line should have an unique stock number.  In the case of our candle line example, that means we must have a stock number that specifies a candle by type, size and color.

To illustrate this, look at the following table:
 
Description Stock Number - #'s only Stock Number - letters
3" Pillar - Red 1301 3P-RED
3" Pillar - Blue 1302 3P-BLUE
3" Pillar - White 1303 3P-WHITE
Votive - Red 2001 V-RED
Votive - Blue 2002 V-BLUE
Votive - White 2003 V-WHITE
8" Taper - Red 3801 8T-RED
8" Taper - Blue 3802 8T-BLUE
8" Taper - White 3803 8T-WHITE

Using numbers only, we set up a 4 digit stock number system.  Pillars fall in the 1000-1999 range, Votives in the 2000-2999 range, and Tapers in the 3000-3999 range.  We define categories and sizes with the first two digits, 01-99.  The last 2 digits, 01-99, define colors, where 01 is always red, 02 is always blue and 03 is always white. 

When compared to a stock number system using letters, it's easy to see why using only numbers is a much better and more organized way of defining stock items.  Are numbers harder to remember then some abbreviated letter code?  Not at all!  In no time, everybody will know that 1303 is a 3" White Pillar.

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