Serialised inventory in CPQ
Serialized Inventory refers to the practice of assigning a unique identification number or code (known as a "serial number") to each individual item in an inventory. This allows for precise tracking and management of each specific item from manufacturing through sale, and sometimes even through the item's end-of-life.
AdminValeryia Baranava (Admin, PandaDoc) commented
Imagine you sell high-end smartphones. Each smartphone will have a unique serial number engraved or embedded in its software. This serial number will be used to track:
Where and when it was manufactured
Which retailer sold it
Who bought it
Let's say you have three phones with serial numbers SN001, SN002, and SN003. When a customer comes in for a repair, you can look up their phone by its serial number and find out exactly what warranty is left and what repairs have been previously done.
SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)
A Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is a unique identifier that businesses use to track a product or a variant of a product for inventory management purposes. Unlike serial numbers, SKUs are not unique to each individual item but are specific to the type or variant of an item.
Let's consider a shoe store that sells running shoes. They have the same model of shoe available in different sizes and colors. Each variant will have its own SKU:
SKU RUN123-BL-08 might refer to the model in blue color and size 8.
SKU RUN123-BL-09 would be the same shoe but in size 9.
SKU RUN123-RD-08 would be the same model, but in red color and size 8.
When a customer wants to buy a blue, size 8 running shoe, the store staff would look for items under the SKU RUN123-BL-08. However, they won't know which specific shoe (in terms of individual item) the customer will get, as all are considered identical under the same SKU.
Serialized Inventory vs. SKU - Combined Example:
In a scenario where both are used, let's consider a high-end laptop store:
SKU LAP-XYZ-16G-512G refers to a laptop model with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Each individual laptop of this type also has a unique serial number: SER001, SER002, etc.
When a customer chooses to buy this laptop model, the SKU is used to identify the type and configuration of the laptop. Once the sale is close to being finalized, a specific laptop with a unique serial number is selected from the inventory to be sold to the customer.
The SKU helps in identifying what kind of laptop the customer wants, while the serial number helps in tracking that specific laptop throughout its lifecycle.