A few days ago there was an interesting discussion about utilizing Merchant SKUs (MSKUs) as an item analysis tool in Scanner Monkey, one of the paid Facebook Groups I belong to. A Merchant SKU is a unique identifier for your item on a listing. When you are listing via Seller Central the Seller (Merchant) SKU is found at the top of the offer tab.
How is an MSKU different from an ASIN?
An ASIN is the Amazon Stock Identification Number which is the catalog number for a particular product LISTING within the Amazon database. The MSKU is a character string (letters/numbers) that relates to the ITEM a seller adds to a listing. Amazon allows you to create your own MSKU or they will auto-generate one with a random combination of numbers and letters. You only have 40 characters to use (spaces included). Once you've created an MSKU it can't be altered. This SKU is only visible to you (not the buyer) unless you sell an item Merchant Fulfilled (MF) where the MSKU will show up on the packing slip.
I don't want to add another step to the listing process…
Before you take that stance, let's look into how creating an MSKU can make you more efficient in your business. If you have inventory in Amazon's warehouses it is nearly impossible to remember the details about where you purchased an item, how much you paid, etc. You could reference an inventory spreadsheet, but that gets cumbersome and time intensive. This information can be worked into an MSKU. Many sellers, myself included, use this space to provide at-a-glance information about an item which can be referenced on the Manage Inventory page. The image below is a screenshot from my Manage Inventory page. The character string next to “Active” is my MSKU.
You can only have one unique MSKU linked to one Amazon product listing. This means that if you bought an item and sent it into the warehouse and then bought the same item again BOTH of those items would be listed on Amazon using the same MSKU.
What does that character string tell you?
I try to cram as much relevant information as I can into my MSKU. If information about a product will help me better analyze my product listing then it gets included in the MSKU.
Depending on the category a product is in, my MSKU may look like the:
This translates into:
3 FBA Sellers
Purchased for $2.89
Break Even Price Point $10
What are the benefits of creating your own SKU?
I use this information to make quicker repricing decisions from my Manage Inventory page and to analyze products using Business Reports > By ASIN > Detail Page Sales & Traffic. I am able to reference all of the pertinent information about an item without having to go looking for it. Once you have your format figured out then adding the MSKU to your listing process will take a minimal amount of time up front but will save you countless hours and frustration on the back end during repricing and product analysis. No more digging through spreadsheets or your brain bank to remember where your purchased and item and how much your paid for it.
What should I include in my MSKU?
An MSKU varies from seller to seller. What information is relevant to your business model? Play around with some different formats for your next shipment and see which ones give you the best information. I recommend that you at least include the store, purchase month/year, and purchase price.
My MSKU has been evolving over the past few years and it will continue to evolve. One thing that I've started to do recently is to include SL for an item on sale and CL for a clearance item. This lets me know when I'm analyzing items that sold well to know if I can get that item again for a similar price point or not.
One Scanner Monkey member said that they add Q4 to their MSKU if it is an item they are planning to hold until Q4 so they don't accidentally reprice it. I think I'm going to add this as I move forward.
Are you currently bypassing the Seller SKU field when adding a product to Amazon? What information do you plan to include in your MSKU for your next shipment?
What are you doing TODAY to move your business forward?