item number

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The article number denotes an article in stock . In distribution systems , different item numbers can refer to the same item in different locations. Common systems of article numbers include the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) , its variant European Article Number (EAN) and the Universal Product Code (UPC) . The serial number and the stock keeping unit (SKU) must be distinguished from the article number .



Item numbers are used in-house for inventory control. Various storage policies are in use:

  • With the (s, q) inventory policy (order quantity procedure), an order of the amount q is triggered when the inventory has fallen to the height of the order point s .
  • With the (r, S) storage policy (order time procedure), an order is triggered every r periods. The order quantity results from the difference between the order level S and the current available stock.

Scanner cash registers

The European Article Number is used in particular for the trade to record and account for sold articles by being read into the IT system of the merchandise management system at the point of sale through scanner cash registers .


  • One and the same article number is assigned for the clear (re) identification of only one article. More than one article may therefore not be listed on one article number. Variants must also have different article numbers.
  • One and the same article, on the other hand, is usually assigned at least two article numbers in the course of production, storage, dispatch or sale:
    • for external use, e.g. to make it easier for customers to identify and order individual items
    • to meet internal administrative purposes.

Formally contain article numbers

  • only numeric characters such as the European Article Number
  • alphanumeric characters, that is, combinations of digits and other letters

The article numbers are shown

  • in characters that can be read directly by humans
  • as an optoelectronically readable bar code , such as the Universal Product Code

Some providers also use external article numbers that do not correspond to the GTIN.

Individual evidence

  1. James B. Ayers, Mary Ann Odegaard: Retail supply chain management , Auerbach Publications, 2007, p 391
  2. ^ Matthew Hudson: What Is a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)? , in: The Balance, online March 9, 2017, accessed January 18, 2018
  3. Hans-Otto Günther and Horst Tempelmeier ; Production and Logistics , Springer, 4th edition, 2000