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Old 05-02-2024, 09:19 PM
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Default Product Codes, SKUs, and Shipping Dates

I just finished reading Bob Townsend's excellent article in the Spring 2024 Journal. This brought up a question I have been wondering about for some time. Can someone provide a brief history of the use of Product Codes, SKUs, and Shipping Dates, typically found on the S&W boxes? TIA
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Old 05-03-2024, 12:45 PM
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Phil, these are great questions. I don't think anyone has ever really drilled into this, so it may take a bit of time to get more precise answers.

Based on the invoices I've looked at, I think the product codes date back to the mid-1970s when computers were coming into use. Prior to that, a gun would just be listed on the invoice as a Model XX, followed by any details about the configuration.

I'm looking at an invoice from 1976 for a delivery of 30 Model 27s to the Austin (TX) Police Department, and it shows a product code of 0272043530*. The "027" at the front is the model number and the remainder forms the product code.

How product codes and SKU numbers intersect is a bit of a mystery to me. I have some invoices from the early 1980s that have both of them on it. I don't see that one is numerically similar to the other.

The AS400 mainframe came into use around 1985, and the guns in that are tracked by the usual six digit SKU number.

A wholly inadequate answer, but hopefully that scratches the itch a bit.

Mike
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Old 05-03-2024, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by first-model View Post
Phil, these are great questions. I don't think anyone has ever really drilled into this, so it may take a bit of time to get more precise answers.

Based on the invoices I've looked at, I think the product codes date back to the mid-1970s when computers were coming into use. Prior to that, a gun would just be listed on the invoice as a Model XX, followed by any details about the configuration.

I'm looking at an invoice from 1976 for a delivery of 30 Model 27s to the Austin (TX) Police Department, and it shows a product code of 0272043530*. The "027" at the front is the model number and the remainder forms the product code.

How product codes and SKU numbers intersect is a bit of a mystery to me. I have some invoices from the early 1980s that have both of them on it. I don't see that one is numerically similar to the other.

The AS400 mainframe came into use around 1985, and the guns in that are tracked by the usual six digit SKU number.

A wholly inadequate answer, but hopefully that scratches the itch a bit.

Mike
Thanks, Mike. From my receipts, etc, it looks like the SKUs started sometime around 1983-1984.
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Old 05-03-2024, 11:46 PM
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There's an article in the Fall, 2011 (45-3) S&WCA Journal on them.

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Originally Posted by first-model View Post
I'm looking at an invoice from 1976 for a delivery of 30 Model 27s to the Austin (TX) Police Department, and it shows a product code of 0272043530*. The "027" at the front is the model number and the remainder forms the product code.
The ten digit codes contained a lot of info in them. The product code Mike mentions for the Austin, TX Police Department Model 27s ends in in a zero because they were a special order. Mike, are they 27-2s? I 'suspect' they also have 3.5" barrels and are finished in nickel.
Unfortunately a lot of that info got lost with the six digit SKUs but they were at least 'grouped'. Except for Performance Center, Lew Horton, etc. runs, 'most' SKUs for a model started with the same numbers; Model 19s were 1007xx, Model 66s 1027xx.
I'm not sure but I think S&W may have made other models. I think the pattern follows with those models.
Now the new 5 digit SKUs appear to be consecutive regardless of model. Progress...
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Old 05-07-2024, 09:16 AM
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Thanks, snw. I found the issue and read your article last night. Very well done. I am wondering if, now, there is more to the story. Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-07-2024, 02:54 PM
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Here's the first page of the invoice that I was referring to.

Mike
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Old 05-07-2024, 06:02 PM
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3.5” but doesn’t mention finish on that page. Are they nickel?
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Old 05-07-2024, 06:07 PM
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Nickel. Here's page 2.
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Old 05-07-2024, 06:43 PM
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This might be useful in understand where or when these codes originated:

Quote:
What is a stock-keeping unit (SKU)?

SKUs are unique identification codes used by retailers to track inventory. The codes distinguish products from each other and serve as a central reference point for managing stock and tracking measuring sales performance. SKUs are usually composed of an alphanumeric series of characters that reflect the attributes of a product, such as its color, style, size, and type. The codes and their structures vary between industries and countries and the information they represent can be adapted to suit the needs of a particular business. SKUs are often represented as barcodes and their movements are tracked with scanning technologies. However, barcodes and SKUs are not the same technology and both can be used independently of each other. In general, SKUs enable a retailer to track a product from when it arrives from a supplier to when it is purchased by a customer.

Where do SKUs come from?

Retailers began developing computer-based inventory management systems in the 20th century. This process generated demand for a standardized technique capable of automatically identifying and tracking separate products. In the 1970s barcodes and SKUs started being used to address the challenges of managing and distributing inventory on a large scale. In 1973 the Uniform Grocery Code Council (UGPCC) established the Universal Product Code (UPC) as the standard way of identifying products and capturing data in the grocery industry. As barcode technology expanded beyond grocery stores, the UGPCC evolved into the Uniform Product Code Council (UPCC).

The SKU concept expanded beyond barcodes as retailers sought more complex information to track and manage their inventories. Over time the UPCC, which became known as GS1 in 2005, developed standards for regulating other forms of automated product identification. Such methods include Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which allows objects to be automatically identified and tracked without needing to be within the line of sight of a reader.
What is stock-keeping units and how are they used? - Inside.com

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Old 05-07-2024, 07:12 PM
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Thanks for the background on SKUs. Wondering how S&W is using them.
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