As an ecommerce seller, your products are distributed across multiple sales channels and fulfilment centres, making it a challenge to keep track of your inventory. Adding to the complication, some products need more specialised storage and tracking, such as products with expiry dates, multiple components, and regulated products. As you don't want to be stuck in a scenario where the health and safety of your customers are concerned and you have to identify the root cause to take corrective measures.
That’s why it’s crucial to have an inventory tracking system that can help you trace where batches of products came from and where they are stored. The most common and efficient way to do that is through batch tracking.
In this blog, you will learn what is batch tracking, which products require batch tracking, why is batch tracking is essential for an ecommerce business, and how to implement a batch tracking system using the best practices.
Batch tracking, also known as lot tracking, is a system used to trace products using batch numbers, including parts or ingredients associated with a group of products, in the entire distribution chain— the manufacturer or supplier, fulfilment centre, and the customer.
From raw materials to finished goods, batch tracking enables you to know where your inventory came from, where they went, how much inventory was shipped, and when your inventory will expire if it has an expiration date. Thus, batch tracking is used to organise your inventory by production or expiration date that provides real-time visibility into your inventory and enables strategic decision-making.
Batch tracking can be applied to all products, but it can be expensive as each batch needs separate storage space and can’t be stored with other batches of the same product.
There are some products for which batch tracking is essential:
Batch tracking helps ecommerce businesses to keep inventory organised, ensuring a certain batch of products is fulfiled first. Here are some benefits of batch tracking:
Batch tracking can improve both your inventory management and order fulfilment. Here is an overview of the best practices of batch tracking you need to consider:
Finding the best way to manage your inventory efficiently is crucial for every product-oriented business. The strategy you will choose will have profound effects on your profitability. FIFO (First In First Out), LIFO (Last In First Out), and FEFO (First Expired First Out) are some common inventory methods. If your products have expiry dates and need batch tracking, you can use the FEFO method in which the product with the closest expiry date moves out first.
For instance, you sell fruit juice online. Your inventory comprises of three batches based on the expiry date of the products:
Batch A: Expiry date is January, 2022
Batch B: Expiry date is July, 2022
Batch C: Expiry date is November, 2021
In this scenario, it would be best to ship out Batch C first when you receive orders.
You can reduce manual work is by tagging every batch with a barcode using an inventory scanner system. This method will help you avoid time wastage as you don't have to manually input data for every batch. Moreover, you can save on labour costs and reduce human error while speeding up the entire fulfilment process.
After batch tracking, you can split your inventory across multiple fulfilment centres and fulfil your orders fast. It will enable you to save on crucial time, especially with F&B products which expire soon, such as juices, muffins, and more.
Batch tracking can empower you with advanced traceability and control over your inventory. Strategic implementation of batch tracking will not only help you to optimise and improve your warehouse processes but also improve your profitability. By accurately tracking inventory on the batch level, you can increase efficiency, reduce wastage and build business credibility in front of your customers.