Selling products with a date limit? Here’s how to minimise your losses
If you’re working with perishable stock, it’s hard to get the balance right.
You can’t keep too much. You can’t keep too little. You can’t keep it for too long – and you definitely don’t want to send out anything dangerous.
But luckily for you, stock control processes and inventory management systems have come a long way.
There are all sorts of useful features and automated processes to help you stay on top of your most delicate stock (and to keep you from chucking it all away).
So here are 3 of the quickest and easiest improvements for your warehouse or wholesale business to keep your shelves stocked and your bins empty:
1. Use an inventory system that monitors your expiry dates
When you’re working with products in batches (and especially at high volumes of stock), it’s incredibly difficult to manually keep track of each batch and its expiration date.
Older items might lie forgotten in a dark corner of your warehouse until they’re unusable. And the people picking and checking can often make mistakes – which could lead to an unsavoury product recall (or worse!).
But with an inventory management system that can track your batches and expiration dates, most of the human error gets automatically removed.
Throughout the entire supply chain, each batch of products is assigned a batch number and an associated expiration date. You can then see exactly which products in your warehouse are getting close to the end of their lives – and you can get automatic notifications for individual batches as they’re getting close.
(DEAR, in particular, is especially good for this, with extra automation options for when your products are approaching their expiration.)
And the result?
Reduced losses, fewer recalls – and a much lower risk of causing any problems with your customers.
2. Keep on top of your stock rotation
Just like the milk in your fridge at home, it’s important to use the oldest products first before you start doing anything with the ones that you’ve just bought in.
But just like the milk, your stock rotation isn’t so simple.
You’ll need to decide between a FIFO system (First In, First Out) and a FEFO system (First Expiring, First Out).
If your products arrive in batches where later batches come with later expiration dates, a FIFO system makes total sense. But if your suppliers aren’t as careful as your local supermarket is, you might find that your more recent orders are due to expire sooner than your older ones.
In those cases, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about making sure that the products expiring sooner are the ones that are shipped off and sold sooner. And for that, you’ll need an in-depth inventory system like one of the two mentioned above to help you to stay on top of your complicated batch dates.
3. Use sales reports to guide your orders
Whatever type of business you’re in, your sales can fluctuate. And while your sales volumes can change each week or month, the shelf life of your products rarely does.
So if you’re still ordering by using a fixed value each week or month, you could end up with far too much stock in your shelves – and that could lead to huge amounts of wastage when those goods expire.
Luckily, most good inventory systems have automated features to help prevent this.
Instead of ordering the same amount of stock for each period, you can use DEAR to set up a Low Stock Reorder Point. When the stock level for a certain product falls to a certain number, DEAR will generate a report and present a reorder form for your employees to approve.
Similarly, Unleashed can generate low and high stock alerts for individual products or groups, and create Reorder Reports with suggested orders to help your workers get the right number of products shipped in.
(And as an added bonus: automatic alerts like these are especially handy for making sure you never run out of stock – which means you’ll never be left empty-handed with furious customers!)
Want more sneaky inventory tips to keep your warehouses efficient?
These quick tips are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for more in-depth discussions about stock control systems and what they can do, you can see more of our blog posts on Inventory Apps and Wholesale.
Or if you’d rather get some hands-on help from one of our experts, apply for a call with us today and we’ll dig in to the particulars of what your business needs.