To really get your handmade inventory strategy in top gear, you'll want to be aware of the major industry codes commonly used to track raw materials and goods.
Lot numbers are used to uniquely identify a specific batch of materials or products you create. The main reason for using lot numbers is to create traceability for your handmade products from purchase of ingredients to the eventual sale of your finished products. To use lot numbers effectively, you'll need to use a lot tracking system (such as Craftybase) designed specifically for manufacturers that allows you to:
- Input the lot numbers for all new batches of materials purchased
- Associate the lot numbers with the your product batches made
- Link the product batches with the sales you have made and to whom
Otherwise known as "Stock Keeping Units". SKUs are designed to enable you to track the actual product lines that you sell. You can design your SKUs in whatever way makes the most sense to you: the only rule being that they have to be unique for your business. More information about SKUs can be found in our blog post here: What is a SKU?
Barcodes / UPCs
The difference between SKUs and UPCs is that a SKU is for your own internal use, whereas a UPC is a globally recognised number. The 12 digit number comprises of your unique company code, plus additional numbers to identify your product. The UPC is commonly represented as a barcode for use with retail POS scanning and also warehouse distribution.
QR codes are two-dimensional computer-generated images originally designed for use in the japanese automotive industry to track parts. The code is a small black and white square that can be easily scanned by smartphones or tablets to create an action (usually to load a specific webpage). Although commonly used for marketing purposes, QR code technology can also be used to track your inventory. As you don't need to apply for UPCs and use expensive barcode creation software, this approach can be a great low cost option for small handmade operations. Read more about Using QR codes to track your craft inventory