A few months ago, I did a wholesale show with a group of wonderful ladies. One benefit to exhibiting in this group was that we could take orders for each other if someone stepped away. While we looked at each other’s items to get a feel for the different product lines, one of my booth mates asked if I had item numbers. The other three artists all had them, but I did not. Why? Let me explain…
Personally, I choose not to use item numbers whether I am writing orders at wholesale shows or selling on Etsy, etc. I did initially add numeral and letter codes to each item on my wholesale catalog, but I found that my customers were not even looking at them when ordering. For example, a big seller for my company is acrylic jewelry in the shape of different states. Buyers tend to order them by first selecting which state they want and then specifying whether they want a necklace or earrings, followed by the color, size, etc. It would be way too much work and totally confusing for me if I filled out the order form using item numbers rather than a simple description of the jewelry. I would be spending a lot of time looking up the codes to cross-check which items are which. Also, the few times I’ve had buyers order after a wholesale show—via telephone or email—they always order based on the product description- not by item number.
I also do not use item codes when selling on Etsy. While working as a handmade business coach, I’ve encountered many sellers who put item numbers in their titles and descriptions on their online listings. I usually suggest they move them to the bottom of the item description for several reasons. Firstly, including numbers and letters as codes can not only take up valuable title space and hurt your SEO, but it can also seem a bit impersonal to handmade shoppers, being so reminiscent of a bar code at a big box store. It’s fine to put these codes in an inconspicuous place to help you identify the item that has sold, just don’t let them get in the way of the essential information your customer needs to know.
On the other hand, if you’re selling a product that is not immediately describable by sight, item codes might be right for your business. These numbers can help keep you organized and streamlined in the production process, especially if you have help from employees or interns. Sometimes, large corporate stores actually require them when placing an order, but I’ve only encountered that occasionally. If you do decide to use item numbers for your products, keep it simple so things don’t become too confusing when you are filling the orders. Be consistent in your numbering and make it easy for both you and the customer to understand.
Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to use item numbers is yours. Determine whether or not they’ll be useful for you based upon the nature of your handmade business.
Comment below to let us know whether or not you prefer using item numbers! After that, check out My Etsy Shop.
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