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SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)

A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is a unique alphanumeric code or identifier assigned to a specific product or item in inventory management systems to track its movement, stock levels, and sales performance within a retail or distribution environment. In academia, SKUs are studied within the fields of supply chain management, inventory control, and retail operations. Researchers investigate SKU definition and classification criteria, such as product attributes, variants, and packaging configurations, to optimize inventory management, forecasting accuracy, and order fulfillment efficiency for retail and e-commerce businesses. SKUs play a critical role in inventory management and merchandising operations by enabling organizations to distinguish between different products, variants, or packages, streamline stock replenishment, and monitor product availability and sales trends across multiple sales channels and distribution locations. By assigning unique SKUs to each product or product variant, organizations can improve inventory accuracy, reduce stockouts and overstock situations, and optimize supply chain logistics and procurement processes to meet customer demand and maximize sales opportunities. Academic studies on SKUs also explore SKU standardization, SKU rationalization, and SKU proliferation management strategies, as well as SKU-level analytics, demand forecasting models, and inventory optimization algorithms to support data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement in SKU management practices and retail operations.

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