ChannelEngine: Merchant product numbers/SKUs
About this article
This article describes how the stock-keeping unit (SKU) is used on ChannelEngine, as well as SKU-related requirements and precautions you must take before changing SKUs.
Table of contents
The SKU, also known at ChannelEngine as Merchant product number, is the attribute that makes your products unique on ChannelEngine and your offers unique on most marketplaces. Therefore, this is the product's most important attribute – even more important than the global trade item number (GTIN), product title, etc.
Parent-child relationships are based on SKUs. As the child refers to the SKU of the parent product this may have an effect on relationships as well.
If you submit product data in which the SKU is changed, it leads to the creation of a new product. Depending on the type of connection you have with ChannelEngine, it either deletes the product with the old SKU or, if using the API, it deletes it if set the old product to inactive/delete it.
Most marketplaces do not accept SKUs longer than a specific amount of characters or containing special characters. Make sure that your SKUs comply with the following requirements.
The SKU requirements:
Maximum of 30 characters - although the absolute maximum length for an SKU is 64 characters, most marketplaces have a much shorter maximum length. E.g.: the maximum length on bol.com is 20 characters. For example:
- Correct = HDP406WH-A-UK
- Incorrect = Kenwood HDP406WH hand blender with multiple attachments
No special characters - SKUs cannot contain special characters. Spaces, slashes, etc. are not allowed either. You can use hyphens.
- Correct = HDP406WH-A-UK
- Incorrect = HDP/406WH A ^UK
- Unique - the SKU is the unique identifier. The SKU makes products unique on ChannelEngine, but some store-management software and order management systems do not have such a restriction. This could result in problems with the listing of items (e.g.: only the first product with that SKU is created and exported to channels), as well as with the processing of orders for that SKU. If you are using such systems (e.g.: Adobe Commerce (née Magento), which does not have a unique constraint on SKU or EAN), we advise you to use the unique productId as the Merchant product number.
If you do not have any SKUs, a common alternative is to use the GTIN as the Merchant product number. This does pose risks if your GTIN is not unique and parent products do not have a GTIN, as they are not saleable. Therefore, if you take this approach as well as product variations, you may run into issues with setting up the relationships correctly.
If there is no other option other than changing your SKUs (e.g.: if you migrate to a new warehouse management system or store-management software), bear in mind that this is a risky procedure. This also applies if you change the attribute mapping of your SKU in the feed mappings, triggering 'new' products and the deactivation of the old products.
Other factors to take into account include:
- Make sure that the old products are deleted or marked as inactive on ChannelEngine.
- Make sure that the old products no longer comply with any product selection filters for channels. This is done automatically when old products are deleted. However, if the change is for a large number of products (i.e.: 1,000+) and the marketplace does not support any bulk calls (e.g.: eBay and Wish), it takes a while before the old product offers are deleted. During that time, issues that could lead to 'ghost products' may surface.
- Once all the old offers are deleted, then and only then you can start exporting the new products to channels so offers are created for the new SKU.