A stock keeping unit may or may not be universal, depending on which entity creates the number: the manufacturer, the wholesaler or the retailer. If the only information you have about a product is the SKU, you can start by looking it up on the website of any retailer that sells the product. If the SKU was created by the retailer, however, you'll need to know which retailer created the number, and it's that retailer you'd consult for information about the product. As a consumer, you typically won't have information about which entity created a product SKU, so you have to do a little research.
Universal product codes, or UPCs, usually -- but not always -- are set by manufacturers and appear on products beneath the barcode. UPCs typically are the same no matter where you find the products. With a UPC or SKU created by the manufacturer or wholesaler, you can look up information about a product on the website or in the print catalog of any retailer that sells it.
Identify the Retailer
SKUs often appear on cash register receipts, so if you have the receipt, note the retailer, its web address and customer service phone number. Product packaging, bags or delivery boxes also give clues about where the item was purchased.
Looking Up SKUs Created at the Store Level
With information you find about retailer, you can:
- Enter the SKU into the search field on the specific retailer's website.
- Search for the SKU in the print version of the retailer's catalog.
- Call customer service -- or the store directly if it's a small operation -- give the representative the SKU and ask for information about the product.