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SKU vs Barcode

What's the difference? Which one should I use?

Joe Barlow avatar
Written by Joe Barlow
Updated this week

Within Thrive, the main difference is a barcode can be re-used with multiple variants, while SKUs must be unique.

Each integration we integrate with may have its own rules on how they handle SKUs and barcodes. To keep your inventory orderly and syncing properly, SKUs must be unique when using Thrive.

You can generate a SKU and Barcode for any variant that doesn't already have one right in the SKU field in the Variants & Defaults section.

Otherwise, there's a bulk task where you can assign a unique SKU to any product in your inventory without a SKU or Barcode. Both of those options are outlined here for SKUs and Barcodes.

A visible barcode is the graphical representation of a number. When printing a tag or label (from the SKU or Barcode field) it will end up looking like the scannable "barcode" you are used to seeing below:

Note: The Barcode and SKUs fields can be different, but in the above example, whether you are printing from the SKU or Barcode field, the result is the same.


Print a SKU/barcode (price tag or label)

Thrive provides you with pre-formatted PDF files for you to print out scannable barcodes.

Read more about supported printers, compatible sizes, supported SKU/Barcode formats, and label examples here:


Each POS handles these a little differently.

BigCommerce: supports SKU and barcode
Clover**: supports SKU and barcode

Square: supports SKU only

Shopify*: supports SKU and barcode
WooCommerce: supports SKU only

*Only the Barcode can be scanned at the Shopify POS.
**Our barcode will map to the "Product Code" in Clover.

If your provider doesn't support a field, you can still use it internally in Thrive. Both SKUs and Barcodes are optional.

BONUS: These fields also enable you to track commissions or serial numbers!


Things to Note:

  • Only one SKU and one barcode can be added to each variant in Thrive.

  • SKU numbers must be unique for each variant, whereas the same barcodes can be used for different variants.

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