eCommerce supply chain management needs to enhance inventory management practices, with 78% of C-level executives expressing a desire for improvement and 50% believing they need the right platforms or technology to support expanded fulfillment options. In response to this demand, there is a growing emphasis and preference for effective inventory management methods that can significantly reduce operating costs, boost gross profit, improve cash flow, and enhance customer satisfaction.
Batch tracking is a valuable inventory management practice that enables your business to trace and monitor the production and distribution channels, all the way to customers. This article will delve into the power of technology and its functionality – batch tracking, batch codes and expiry date.
What is batch tracking
Batch tracking, or lot tracking, is an essential practice employed in inventory management. It involves categorising items based on shared production characteristics such as manufacturing date, location, expiration date, and the use of specific parts and raw materials. By grouping items into batches, businesses can effectively trace and monitor these groups throughout the production and distribution processes, all the way to the end consumers.
It also supports different delivery sequencing strategies that help optimise inventory management. These strategies include:
- First In, First Out (FIFO)
- Last In, First Out (LIFO)
- First Expiring, First Out (FEFO)
What is the importance of batch tracking
By implementing a batch tracking system, businesses can effectively;
Improved quality control
- Tracing and identifying defective batches of products.
- Tracing the source of defective raw materials and components within your supply chain.
- Conducting targeted product recalls for specific batches of the sold item.
- Ensuring strategic shipping and sales based on expiry dates to minimise spoilage and waste.
Improved compliance with regulations
- A robust batch-tracking system may be legally required depending on the product and market.
- Serial numbers are crucial in managing warranty claims and detecting and preventing the circulation of stolen or counterfeit products.
Strengthened customer relations
- Linking warranty information to serial numbers protects your business, customers, and consumers by facilitating product replacements or repairs when needed.
More accurate product and batch tracking
- Automated tracking systems accelerate the process of product tracing and offer greater precision than manual methods, reducing the risk of costly errors.
Industries which rely on batch tracking
Batch tracking is essential for various industries that rely on recalls and efficient expiry date management. All products derived from organic materials, such as rubber, plastics, and paints, undergo degradation over time. Hence, it is crucial to diligently monitor their expiry dates using batch tracking to ensure product quality and consumer safety.
Effective quality control involves proactive monitoring of expiry dates and detecting defective goods. Promptly removing such products from your distribution network is crucial to prevent the following consequences:
- Lost sales
- Dissatisfied customers
- Damage to the brand’s reputation
- Potential legal actions and fines
Here are examples of products made from organic materials in various categories:
Home & Decor
- Paints and varnishes
- Natural fibre rugs and carpets
- Wooden furniture
- Bamboo or cork flooring
Health & Wellness
- Herbal supplements
- Organic skincare products
- Essential oils
- Natural remedies and herbal medicines
- Fresh organic produce (fruits, vegetables)
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt)
- Meats and poultry
- Whole grains and cereals
- Bakery products
- Coffee and tea
- Fruit juices
- Natural spring water
- Wine and beer
- Organic and natural makeup products
- Skincare and facial care items
- Hair care products
How does batch tracking work
Implementing an effective batch number tracking system requires careful attention to detail. Here are the essential steps to ensure robust control:
Determine the batch size: Clearly define the criteria for each batch, ensuring that products are manufactured using the same materials, by the same machine and team, within a specific time frame.
Select a batch format: Opt for unique combinations of letters and numbers as batch numbers. For easy searchability, consider incorporating the product’s date and initials.
Maintain comprehensive records: Log all batch details utilising advanced software to keep a systematic record of each batch.
Label the batches: Decide on the labelling method, whether it’s through printing or stickers, and choose an appropriate label type. Consider including a barcode with a serial number for efficient scanning and tracking.
Include batch-specific information: Depending on the type of goods being manufactured, batch tracking contains the necessary details, such as:
- Date and time of production
- Assembly plant or manufacturing facility
- Materials used in the production process
- Supplier information for the materials
- Equipment or machinery used
- Workstation or production line data
- Quality control measures and inspections conducted
- Test results and relevant certifications, if applicable
- Expiry dates for perishable goods
- Packaging and labelling specifications
- Quantity of products in the batch
- Unique identification number for the batch or lot
What is a batch number?
A batch number serves as a valuable tool for efficiently identifying goods that are nearing expiry or require recall. The ability to swiftly locate defective products and items approaching expiration within your distribution network are crucial. These locations may include:
- Fulfillment Centers
- Logistics hubs and centers
- Point-of-sale locations
What is a serial number?
A serial number is an identifier for an individual unit within a product line. Serial numbers can be generated using a sequential or incremental combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. Serial numbers play a vital role across various industries and offer a wide range of applications, such as;
- Product returns
- Warranties of individual goods
- Identification and reporting of counterfeit and stolen products
Where do batch numbers go on my product?
Product information, such as serial numbers, batch (lot) numbers, and expiry dates, is commonly displayed alongside barcodes. Serial numbers are frequently engraved or embossed onto a product’s metal or plastic components, safeguarding against the sale of stolen goods.
It is important to note that serial or batch numbers can also be represented as barcodes, which aids in the seamless scanning and retrieval of product information. By incorporating these identifiers into barcode formats, businesses can streamline the scanning process and enhance product traceability throughout the supply chain.
What is a barcode?
Barcodes are visual representations of data that can be scanned using barcode readers or mobile devices. They encode product details, batch or serial numbers, and pricing. Barcodes facilitate rapid and accurate data capture, allowing efficient inventory management, sales transactions, and supply chain visibility. They provide a quick and reliable means of identifying products and can be used alongside batch or serial numbers for enhanced tracking and traceability.
What are SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) Codes?
SKU codes are unique identifiers assigned to individual products or variations of a product within a company’s inventory. They help distinguish different product versions, sizes, or variants and are used for inventory management, stock control, and sales tracking. SKU codes typically include information such as product type, size, colour, and other attributes specific to the item. They enable businesses to track and manage stock levels accurately and facilitate efficient order fulfillment processes.
The benefits of automating product and batch information
Using software to generate and manage batch and serial numbers provides wholesale and distribution businesses with an innovative and efficient solution to reduce spoilage and effectively handle product recalls. It also enables companies to meet their due diligence requirements in complying with regulations and industry standards.
Here are five reasons why automated batch and serial number tracking surpasses the conventional manual method:
- Quicker and Easier Management: Automated tracking allows for the swift and streamlined handling of product warranties and recalls, identifying and reporting stolen or forged goods.
- Reduced Spoilage: Automated systems enable proactive monitoring of expiry dates, significantly reducing spoilage.
- Cost Reduction and Risk Mitigation: Through enhanced safety and quality control measures, automated batch and serial number tracking helps minimise the risk of product defects and related litigation.
- Improved Supplier and Customer Relations: Businesses can strengthen their relationships with suppliers and customers by proactively managing the removal of expired and defective goods.
- Accurate Monitoring and Reduced Human Error: Automated systems precisely monitor spoilage and defective goods, minimising the risk of human error associated with manual tracking methods.
Take Advantage of the New Batch Codes Functionality of I-Fulfilment
The Batch Codes functionality in I-Fulfilment software provides a powerful tool to easily track and manage batches of products. Whether dealing with limited-time promotions, or specific manufacturing runs, the Batch Codes feature ensures precise monitoring and control over your inventory.
- Efficiently track and identify faulty batches, materials, and products throughout the production cycle.
- Streamline your warehouse management by quickly locating items across multiple facilities. All teams can access real-time data, ensuring seamless collaboration.
- Achieve end-to-end traceability for materials and products with reliable batch tracking capabilities.
- Reduces the likelihood of accounting errors that may occur with manual tracking.
- Automate inventory transactions and establish reorder points to proactively avoid stock-outs.
- Simplify order processing by utilising barcodes to scan received purchase orders.
- Quickly identify and address expired products, ensuring their removal from shelves in a timely manner.
- Improve integration across various processes, ensure compliance with regulations, and enhance customer relations.
- Cost-effective and user-friendly, making setting up automated tracking systems simple.
Experience the power of BladePRO, which integrates with your existing systems and processes to optimise your eCommerce supply chain management. Contact us today.