Product identifiers - Supply Chain Management | Dynamics 365 (2023)

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This article provides information about the various types of product identifiers and explains how you can add product identifiers in your product data.

When you work with products on the shop floor or in a warehouse in Microsoft Dynamics ERP or Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you must have a good strategy for identifying those products and product variants.

Unique product number/product ID

In Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, the primary identifier for a product is the product number (that is, the unique product ID). This number can be automatically generated by a number sequence or manually associated with a product. For product variants, the numbers can be defined through the product nomenclature template.

In many cases, the product number isn't originally created in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Instead, it's associated with a product in a product lifecycle management (PLM) system or a product data management (PDM) system. In this case, you use data entities to import the products and product variants. Supply Chain Management then uses the numbers in all operations.

When you implement Supply Chain Management, you should give special consideration to your strategy for product numbers. A good numbering system improves logistics flows and helps prevent errors. A good product identifier should usually have 20 characters or less, but we generally recommend using fewer than 10 characters and including no more than five classifying characters. You can also use search names to enable quick searches. A search name is an extra name that represents the classifications of a product.

When you use Microsoft Dataverse, the product number in Supply Chain Management is also the product number in Microsoft Dataverse. Product variants are synchronized to Dataverse as distinct products.

Item number and product dimensions

The item number is the product identifier that is used by a specific legal entity. Ideally, the item number should be identical to the product number. If the nomenclature differs per legal entity, it becomes difficult to follow a product throughout the supply chain, and burdensome relabeling and referencing processes are introduced. For compatibility with older versions (that is, with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 and earlier), we have preserved this model. However, we recommend that you eliminate identifiers that are specific to legal entities whenever you can, and that you use the unique product number as the primary identifier instead.

Additionally, a product variant can't be uniquely identified by an item number. It always requires the combination of an item number and all the product dimensions that are defined on the product master. This requirement can become cumbersome and can slow down the identification processes. For this reason too, we recommend that you use the unique product number instead the item number whenever you can.

Many pages still have the item number and product dimensions as the primary identifiers. However, the product numbers can be used for searches. At Sales and marketing > Setup > Search > Search parameters, you can change the search lookup so that it uses product numbers instead of item numbers as the primary search strategy. If you set the Enable lookup for product search option to Yes, the lookup will show not only product masters but product variants. For more information, see Search for products and product variants during order entry.

Additionally, you'll be able to search and filter on the product number, the product name and description, and the product dimension IDs of the product variant. When you select a variant, the related item number and all product dimension IDs will be selected. Therefore, you can more easily find and select the correct variant. This setting is highly recommended if you use product variants and the unique product number as the primary identifiers for products. The only exception might be the fashion industry, where the business processes often require that you select the master before you select a variant. You should carefully evaluate this option before you implement the numbering system.

Product name and description

The product name and description are the human-readable identifiers of a product and can be maintained in many languages. By default, the Supply Chain Management client shows all product information in the default company language, not in the user's language. However, translated product names and descriptions are used in all communication with customers and vendors. The translations are based on the language code of the customer and vendor accounts.

For product variants, the product name can be generated through a product nomenclature template. Because there's no requirement that product names be unique, you might find multiple products that have the same name.

Product and item search names

Supply Chain Management offers a secondary search name for products and also for items (released products). This search name doesn't have to be unique, and it can be changed after a product or product variant is created. We recommend that you use the search name to search for products by categories. The search names enable quick searches, especially in sales and purchase processes.

The search name can also contain a customer or vendor product ID, or some other external product ID, if this external ID is the primary search criterion for a product.

External product identifiers (Customer and vendor identifiers)

For released products, you can maintain the item numbers, item names, and item descriptions that the customer or vendor uses. The references are shown on external documents, such as sales orders, purchase orders, packing slips, and invoices. In the current version of Supply Chain Management, the external references aren't shown on core operations pages. The only exception is the vendor item number. This number is shown in the Product information dialog box if a default vendor is defined for the released product.

You can maintain the external product identifiers by released product, released product variant, customer, customer group, vendor, or vendor group.

On the Released products page, follow one of these steps.

  • For customers, on the Sell tab, in the Related information group, select External item description.
  • For vendors, on the Purchase tab, in the Related information group, select External item description.

On the External item descriptions page, you can associate the customer's or vendor's item number with a released product. This association must be done for each legal entity. The following information can be captured. Unfortunately, the labels are slightly misleading in the current version of Supply Chain Management. However, these labels might be changed in a future version.

FieldCorresponding customer informationCorresponding vendor information
External item numberThe customer's item numberThe vendor's item number
DescriptionThe name that the customer associates with the itemThe name that the vendor associates with the item
External item textThe customer's item descriptionThe vendor's item description

If many customers or vendors use the same item numbers (as with a purchase association or a commerce group, for example), you can create groups of customer or vendors to simplify the maintenance of external product information.

  • For customer groups, go to Sales > Setup > Items > External item description to create and maintain the groups and the related item numbers. To associate customers with a group, go to Accounts receivable > Customers > All customers, and then, on the Sales order defaults FastTab, specify a value in the Item - customer group field.
  • For vendor groups, go to Procurement and sourcing > Setup > External item description group to create and maintain the groups the related item numbers. To associate vendors with a group, go to Accounts payable > Vendors > All vendors, and then, on the Purchase order defaults FastTab, specify a value in the Item - vendor group field.

Bar codes

If you want to use a bar code scanner to identify products, the product identifier must meet the requirements of the bar code standard that is used. Therefore, bar codes don't typically contain the raw product number but a number that is generated specifically for the selected bar code technology. You can maintain multiple bar codes by bar code type. You can even associate the same bar code with multiple products and then select the actual active association when you scan a bar code.

Before you define bar codes, you can define one or more bar code setups. The bar code setups can help validate that bar codes follow the required guidelines, and that they can therefore be effectively printed and scanned. You can also maintain special bar codes for specific product quantities.

We recommend that you use the bar code setup to maintain Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) or International Article Number (EAN) codes.

To maintain bar codes, on the Released products page, on the Manage inventory tab, in the Warehouse group, select Bar codes.

GTIN codes

In e-commerce, it's crucial that all parties speak a common language and refer to products by using a common set of identifiers. Therefore, some industries rely on the GTIN, which is a global item number system that is facilitated by GS1.

We recommend that you maintain the GTIN as a bar code. However, you can also maintain it on the Item - GTIN page. To open this page, on the Released products page, on the Manage inventory tab, in the Warehouse group, select GTIN codes. The GTIN isn't maintained as a global number. Instead, it's maintained by legal entity.

In Supply Chain Management, you define packaging variants in the warehouse operations by defining specific units of measure. For example, an item might be stored in pieces, in bundles of six, in trays of 18, or in full pallets. A specific unit of measure will be defined for each of these packaging variants. Because the GTIN is typically related to the packaging unit of a product, the Item - GTIN page lets you maintain multiple GTIN codes per product and unit of measure. However, you can't use the same GTIN code more than one time for different items or product variants of a legal entity.

To maintain GTIN codes, on the Released products page, on the Manage inventory tab, in the Warehouse group, select GTIN.

External codes

External codes can be defined for many entities. For example, you can define external codes to identify products and released products. These external codes can be used to associate statistical codes or tax codes with released products and released product variants. External codes are defined by legal entity and code type. They must be unique by legal entity, code type, and table reference.

Unfortunately, there's no standard functionality that lets you search for products by external codes.

Data entities that are used to import and export product identifiers

Entity nameImport identifiersExport identifiersComments
Products V2Product number, product search name, product name, product descriptionProduct number, product search name, product name, product descriptionDepending on the settings of the entity and the number sequence for the product number, the product number can be automatically created at the time of import.
Product variantsProduct number, product search name, product name, product descriptionProduct number, product search name, product name, product descriptionDepending on the product nomenclature template, the product number can be automatically created at the time of import. However, you can import any unique product number, and that product number doesn't have to follow the structure of the product nomenclature templates.
Product translationsProduct name, product descriptionProduct name, product descriptionThis entity overwrites any language. When the name or description of a legal entity's primary language is overwritten, the name and description of the product itself is changed.
Released product creation V2Item number, product number, item search nameItem number, product number, item search name, product search name, product nameThis entity can be a challenge when number sequences are used during the creation of new released products. Both the Item number number sequence and the Product number number sequence have an influence. However, the Item number number sequence is per legal entity, whereas the Product number number sequence is global. Therefore, we don't recommend that you use the Item number number sequence when you deploy new released products. Obviously, when the entity is used to release an existing product, the product number must be given in the entity. For more information, see the "Product and item number sequences" section in this article.
Released product variantsItem number, product dimensions, product numberProduct number, product search name, product name, product description, product dimensionsLike the Product variants entity, this entity can be used to create new products that either follow the product nomenclature template or use their own product numbers for the variant.
External item description for customersCustomer item number, customer item name, customer description, customer accountCustomer item number, customer item name, customer description, customer accountA group of customers (for example, a buyer association) can be aggregated into one group by using the External item description customer groups entity.
External item description for vendorsVendor item number, vendor item name, vendor description, vendor accountVendor item number, vendor item name, vendor description, vendor accountA group of vendors (for example, a sales association or industry organization) can be aggregated into one group by using the External item description vendor groups entity.
Item BarcodeBar codeBar codeAt the time of import, you must refer to a bar code setup that is defined in the target system. The imported bar code references are validated against that bar code setup and are rejected if the bar codes don't match the requirements that are defined in that setup.
External codes for released productsExternal codeExternal code, external code classes, item numberExternal codes are by legal entity. For import, you must refer to a defined code class. Import the code classes by using the External code classes for released products entity.
External codes for released product variantsExternal codeExternal code, external code classes, item number, product dimensionsExternal codes are by legal entity. For import, you must refer to a defined code class. Import the code classes by using the External code classes for released products entity. This entity refers to product variants by the item number and product dimensions.
External codes for released product variants by product number identifierExternal codeExternal code, external code classes, product numberExternal codes are by legal entity. For import, you must refer to a defined code class. Import the code classes by using the External code classes for released products entity. This entity refers to product variants by the product number of the variant. (From the next major release)
GTINNot applicableNot applicableCurrently, there's no specific entity that is used to import and export GTIN codes. We recommend that you use the Item Barcode entity instead.
Product entity common data service identifier entityNot applicableItem number, item search name, product search name, vendor item number, customer item number, external codes, GTIN codes, bar codesThis entity consolidates all identifiers into one data model, so that one interface can be used to easily export all identifiers and their related types. Use the Product entity identifier code entity to export the identifier codes and descriptions. Use the Product entity identifier scope entity to export additional scope information to an identifier, such as the party, legal entity, quantity, or unit.

Product and item number sequences

You can define two different number sequences:

  • The Product number number sequence for the global product number
  • The Item number number sequence for the item number per legal entity

Note

You should use the item number as a separate identifier only when you migrate different legal entities from different sources that had different numbering systems. You should always try to use a product identifier that is unique across all legal entities. Therefore, you should set the Manual option to Yes for the Item number number sequence. In this way, the item number will follow the product number on creation. If Supply Chain Management isn't the leading system for new product numbers, you should set the Manual option to Yes for both the Item number and Product number number sequences.

When you use the Released product creation V2 entity to create products, multiple settings can affect how the number sequences are used to create the product number and item number:

  • Settings of the Product number number sequence
  • Settings of the Item number number sequence
  • The mapping of the item number
  • The mapping of the product number

The following table provides an overview of the results of import and manual creation when specific combinations of the number sequence and field mapping settings.

Product number number sequenceItem number number sequenceMapping of the item numberMapping of the product numberResult of entity importResult of manual creationConclusion
Manual = NoManual = NoNo mappingNo mappingProduct numbers use the Product number number sequence. Item numbers use the Item number number sequence.Product numbers use the Product number number sequence. Item numbers use the Item number number sequence.With this configuration, product numbers will follow the product number sequence and item numbers will follow the item number sequence. However, this configuration won't work if there's more than one item (row) to be imported.
Manual = NoManual = YesAuto generateNo mappingBoth product numbers and item numbers use the Item number number sequence.Both product numbers and item numbers use the Product number number sequence.Both product numbers and item numbers will follow the product number sequence. This is the recommended approach to import bulk products with the Released product creation V2 data entity.

You can only use this approach when bulk importing items (several rows) and when you aren't creating items through the user interface. If you need both to bulk import and to create products through the user interface, use the procedure in the next row of this table instead. To transition from using a bulk import approach to using the user interface to manually, import and create products, you must manually adjust the Next number in the item number number sequence to match the Next number in the product number number sequence. Then you could switch to the approach in the next row of this table.

Manual = NoManual = YesNo mappingNo mappingBoth product numbers and item numbers use the Product number number sequence.Both product numbers and item numbers use the Product number number sequence.Both product numbers and item numbers will use the product number sequence. However, this configuration won't work if there's more than one item (row) to be imported.

You must use this approach if you need both to import products using the entities (only one row can be imported at a time) and to create products through the user interface.

Manual = YesNot applicableNot applicableAuto generateYou receive the following error message: "Number sequence can't be detected."According to the Item number number sequenceThis setting isn't supported for import.

Product entity identifier (Export all product identifiers)

The product entity identifier model was created to enable version 1.0 of Dataverse to be provisioned with all identifiers that are used to refer to a product. To simplify this task, all identifiers are aggregated into one global identifier table, so that they can be exported as one model. This version of Dataverse doesn't use the product identifiers model. Therefore, the Product entity common data service identifier entity entity and this process have limited practical use and will likely be subject to change in the future.

The product identifier table is a global table that is populated from all reference tables of the Main legal entity through a recurring batch job. You must select a legal entity and a product category hierarchy as the definition of the global product master scope. Generation of the global product identifier table is limited to products that are released to the selected legal entity and products that are members of the product hierarchy that is selected for the Common data service role in the product category hierarchy.

This process assumes that product master data is primarily maintained in one central legal entity. (However, this legal entity can be a virtual legal entity that is used only to maintain global master data.)

Follow these steps to configure the environment.

  1. Select the category hierarchy for Dataverse. On the Category hierarchy role associations page, if no hierarchy is associated with the Common data service role, you must create a new association. Select the Common data service role, and then associate the category hierarchy that represents the product portfolio that should be synchronized to Dataverse.

  2. Select the legal entity for global product master data. On the Product information management parameters page, on the Product attributes tab, select the master company where the product and item identifiers are primarily maintained.

  3. Define the identifier code types and codes that should be exported. Go to Product information management > Setup > Product identifier codes. To generate the identifier code types, select Generate codes. A code type entry is generated for each type for identifier that is found in the selected legal entity.

    For bar codes, a code type is generated for each bar code setup. For external codes, a code type is generated for each external code class.

    You can now maintain the list of code types. You can change the code, name, and description. You can also delete code types. Code types that you delete won't be used to populate the global product entity identifier tables.

  4. When you've finished defining the product identifier code types, you can create the identifiers in the global table by starting the Create product entity identifiers job on the Product entity identifier codes page. You should run this job in a batch. This job should be set up as a periodic batch job so that the table is populated according to new entries.

You can now use the Product entity common data service identifier entity, Product entity identifier code, and Product entity identifier scope data entities to export the identifiers for any target system.

Related article

Search for products and product variants during order entry

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