One of the most important aspects of retail is inventory management. Without an efficient way of managing stock levels, stores can see big losses because of stagnant product sitting on their shelves. There are two ways of identifying a product or service.
Used in tandem with a UPC, a SKU is an identifying number that refers to a specific item in a company's inventory log (accessed by the UPC). A SKU pulls up a product's description, manufacturer, stock level, and price. It's most often used in warehouses as an inventory control system, allowing retailers to track stock levels in their stores.
Used for tracking items and consists of a unique 12-digit number located below a barcode which is given to each product. It identifies both the item and the vendor that sells the product. Each UPC is regulated to maintain efficiency standards and meet global supply and demand (GS1, a non-profit organization).
A UPC code communicates with a product's information center - inventory levels, pricing and point-of-sale (POS), and so on. The barcode is scanned and identifies the product's numerical sequence, and thus the transaction is started. Note: the UPC does not identify a product's price. It simply connects with the retailer's POS system which is what holds a products information (price, stock level, item description). Learn more about UPC's here.