As an eCommerce business, your products are distributed across many sales channels and fulfillment centers, making inventory management difficult. Some products, such as those with expiry dates and regulated products, require more specialised storage and tracking. That is why it is critical to have an inventory monitoring system that can help you identify where batches of products come from and where they are stored.
Batch tracking is the most common and efficient method. In this article, you will discover what batch tracking is, which goods require batch tracking, why batch tracking is important for an ecommerce firm, and how to design a batch tracking system using best practices.
Batch Tracking Explained
Batch tracking is a vital process for businesses that deal with multiple products and need to monitor them efficiently. It involves grouping items based on common attributes such as production date, supplier, or location. This enables businesses to trace the origin and journey of each batch, ensuring quality control, streamlined recalls, and effective inventory management.
Why Is Batch Tracking Important to Businesses?
Batch tracking is crucial in inventory management as it allows businesses to monitor and manage their inventory efficiently. It involves assigning a unique identifier or code to a specific group of products produced or received together. This identifier, often called a batch code or batch number, helps to track and trace the movement of these products throughout the supply chain, from production or procurement to sales. This level of tracking provides several benefits, including:
Batch tracking enables businesses to quickly identify and isolate defective or substandard products. If a quality issue arises, the affected batch can be easily identified, and necessary actions like recalls or replacements can be executed efficiently, minimising the impact on customers and the brand’s reputation.
In case of product recalls or safety concerns, batch tracking enables companies to track the exact batch code of products that might be affected. This reduces the scope of recalls and prevents unnecessary disruption to the entire product line.
For perishable or time-sensitive products, such as food items or medications, batch tracking helps in managing inventory based on expiration dates. This ensures that products with shorter shelf lives are sold or used first, reducing the risk of waste.
In industries with strict regulations, such as pharmaceuticals or chemicals, batch tracking is essential to demonstrate compliance with safety and quality standards. It provides documentation of the product’s journey and origin, which is often required by regulatory authorities.
Efficient Inventory Planning
Batch tracking provides insights into the sales performance of different batches. This data can be used to make informed decisions about replenishment, restocking, and inventory levels based on historical demand patterns.
Let’s consider a scenario involving a company that sells nutritional supplements online:
Suppose “Healthy Life Supplements” is an eCommerce business that sells various vitamins and dietary supplements. Some of these products have sensitive ingredients that can expire or degrade over time. In this case, batch tracking becomes crucial for the following reasons:
Different batches of the same supplement might have varying expiry dates. With batch tracking, Healthy Life Supplements can identify which batches are nearing their expiry date and prioritise their sale to prevent stockouts and wastage.
If a particular batch of supplements is found to be defective or not meeting quality standards, batch tracking allows Healthy Life Supplements to quickly identify the affected customers and recall only the products from that specific batch, minimising the impact on their entire inventory.
Some supplements might be subject to regulatory requirements, and the authorities might require information about the batches sold during a specific time frame. Batch tracking allows the company to provide accurate and timely reports to regulatory bodies.
Suppose Healthy Life Supplements receives customer complaints about a specific batch of supplements causing adverse reactions. With batch tracking, they can identify the batch in question and conduct a detailed investigation into the manufacturing and distribution process, ensuring product quality and safety.
By tracking batches, the company can assess the performance of different suppliers. If they notice consistent product issues from a specific supplier’s batch, they can make informed decisions about future procurement.
Inventory Batch Tracking Strategies
Implementing effective batch tracking strategies is essential for streamlined inventory management. These strategies ensure that products are traceable, quality is maintained, and regulatory requirements are met. Here are tailored batch tracking strategies specifically designed for eCommerce:
1. Digital Batch Identification
Assign unique digital codes to each batch, such as QR codes or barcodes. These codes can be scanned at various supply chain stages, making tracking and managing batches easier.
2. Integrated eCommerce Platforms
Utilise integrated e-commerce platforms or inventory management systems. These systems can automatically update batch information when orders are placed, products are received, or shipments are sent out.
3. Detailed Product Listings
Provide detailed product listings on your website, including batch-related information such as manufacturing dates, expiry dates, and batch IDs. This transparency reassures customers about product quality.
4. Real-time Stock Updates
Ensure that your online inventory is updated in real-time. When a product is sold, the corresponding batch quantity should automatically decrease to prevent overselling.
5. Batch Segregation in Warehouses
Physically segregate different batches within your warehouses. This prevents mix-ups and aids in efficient order fulfilment.
6. Automated Batch Alerts
Implement automated alerts for products approaching their expiry dates. This allows you to take action, such as offering discounts or removing products from the website.
7. Centralised Tracking System
Employ a centralised inventory management system that supports batch tracking. This system should record batch-specific information such as manufacturing date, lot number, expiry date, and supplier details.
8. First-In-First-Out (FIFO)
Adhere to the FIFO principle, where products from older batches are sold or used before newer ones. This strategy prevents stockpile accumulation and reduces the risk of products reaching their expiry dates before they’re used.
9. Recall Readiness
Have a clear protocol for handling recalls. Assign a team responsible for executing recalls efficiently, with precise batch identification and communication strategies.
10. Training and Communication
Train your staff on the importance of batch tracking and how to accurately record batch-specific information. Clear communication ensures everyone understands their role in maintaining accurate records.
11. Integration with Sales
Integrate batch tracking with your sales and order processing systems. This ensures that the correct batches are allocated to orders, preventing errors and customer dissatisfaction.
12. Sustainability Considerations
For businesses focused on sustainability, batch tracking can help reduce waste. Track and manage products nearing expiry to offer discounts or promotions, encouraging their consumption before expiration.
Batch Tracking Made Simple With I-Fulfilment Inventory Management Systems
With increased competition in eCommerce business, precision and efficiency are paramount, especially when it comes to inventory management. I-Fulfilment’s Inventory Management System takes the complexity out of batch tracking, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – delivering quality products to your customers.
With BladePRO, you gain access to a user-friendly interface that simplifies batch identification, real-time updates, and automated alerts. Prevent wastage and optimise inventory levels using the First-In-First-Out principle, all while maintaining a seamless collaboration with suppliers for accurate batch data.
Experience the simplicity of batch tracking with I-Fulfilment today. Contact us for a demo and take the first step towards efficient, accurate, and hassle-free inventory management.