QuickBooks™ Point of Sale Help: Inventory Item Identifiers

The term item identifiers refers to the Item #, Universal Product Code (UPC), and Alternate Lookup values for items in inventory. Item identifiers are used for looking up and listing items on documents, and for other program functions as described below.

Item Numbers

Every item (except special order items) has an Item # associated with it in inventory. You can edit the item number but cannot delete it. Valid entries are 1 through 999,999, 999. Item numbers above 999,999 are not recommended as the bar code would be too large to fit on the default tag templates.

Item numbers are used to print bar codes on tags in Point of Sale.

(Pro) If you prefer, you can use Print Designer to make bar codes printed from Point of Sale to reflect UPC or alternate lookup values instead.

Universal Product Codes (UPC)

Manufacturer-supplied tags with UPCs can be used to lookup and list items on documents, provided the UPC has been recorded in the UPC field on the item record in inventory. UPCs must be unique and can contain numbers only.

The UPC field on an item record can be used to record UPC-E, UPC-A, EAN, or similar identifiers up to 18 digits. Point of Sale will convert UPC formats of less than 13 digits (such as UPC-A and UPC-E) to a 13-digit form using a standard conversion algorithm.

Record UPC numbers manually or scan the preprinted tags from your vendors into the UPC field.

Important: Do not scan bar codes created in Point of Sale from the item number into the UPC field.

Likewise, if a vendor provides alphanumeric bar codes that are not true UPC codes, do not enter those codes into the UPC field. UPC codes have a required format, and other code formats are not accepted. Consider using the Alternate Lookup field for these codes instead (see below).

Alternate Lookups

An Alternate Lookup (ALU) is an optional field in inventory that can be used to lookup, list, and print items on documents. The use of Alternate Lookups is particularly well suited to retailers that do not tag merchandise or those that want to print documents, such as purchase orders, with alphanumeric product identifiers (such as a vendor’s part number).

This field can contain text descriptions, catalog/part numbers, alphanumeric entries, abbreviated names, duplications of the Item Name field, etc., anything that allows you to quickly and Point Of Saleitively identify a unique item.

Alternate Lookups must be unique for each item for which they are defined.

To be effectively used to list items on documents, each Alternate Lookup entry:

  • Should be a unique character string that can be easily remembered by cashiers.
  • Should not duplicate any items Item # or UPC code.
  • It is suggested that they start with a letter rather than a number. This helps ensure that Alternate Lookups do not duplicate an item or UPC number. If you have an Alternate Lookup of 1234 and item number of 1234, both will be returned as matches when you enter 1234 in the item lookup field on a document.

To print documents that list your Alternate Lookup values, select document templates that have the “-ALU” suffix. Templates can be selected on the Print Options page in workstation preferences.

For more information about item identifiers, search the help index using the keywords UPC, Alternate Lookup, or Item Number.


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