Inventory Management: Tracking Expiration Dates

Why do you track inventory expiration dates? That is either because your business might be run by a regulatory agency that forces you to monitor inventory expiration dates, or it is just for inventory management when you want to sell the oldest inventory first before you sell the new ones.

Tracking inventory alone is already a long and tedious process. It takes time and can cost you a lot, especially when you have multiple locations and your items are moving a lot.

So whatever the reason is, it is already a part of inventory management and it is important to have this part properly set up in your procedures to avoid piling up problems with obsolescence and losses.

Importance of expiration date tracking in inventory management

Keeping an eye on your inventory expiry dates is one way to become more efficient in handling your inventory. This is very crucial, and a keen eye is needed to monitor expiration dates, not only with the existing items in your inventory but also for the incoming batches.

Expired items lead to substantial capital losses. The common strategy is to rotate stock on the shelves. The sooner the product expiration dates should be rotated to the front and the later the expiry date should be put to the rear.

The first-in, first-out (FIFO) stocking strategy is the foundation of most inventory control strategies.

Even though FIFO is a very straightforward procedure, why do businesses still fail to do this? It is because they don’t know which items are about to expire or already expired in the first place!

The importance of expiration dates is knowing what items and when these items would go bad. When you are aware of this, you will be prepared and make some adjustments such as putting them in front of newer items for sale or selling them at markdown prices to your customers.

Is there any Inventory Management Software that has an expiration date feature?

Absolutely! There are a lot, actually. But how expiration date indicator should appear in your inventory management system? If you are using excel, it should have a color coding that will prompt you to restock your inventory.

For inventory management systems, it should clearly show not just the items that are about to expire or already expired. It should show and allow you to see where these items are located in your inventory.

Inventory expiration date tracking goes hand and hand with inventory level tracking solutions. Both are quite useful when it comes to keeping the ideal inventory level and avoiding obsolescence. Expiration dates aren’t just for perishable goods, they can also be used as a reminder for routine maintenance or auditing. This is also where the useful life of certain equipment may be set to determine if it performed its function for the specified amount of time or to use as a reference if it has to be replaced soon.

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Barcoding: Key to Inventory Visibility

There are quite a few different ways to keep track of your inventory. You can either write everything down on paper, you can design a spreadsheet, or use excel, and create your own formulas. Or, you can create a lot of things easier by using an inventory management system to automate things for you. 

Inventory management must be done correctly if warehouse operations, order fulfillment, receiving, and customer service is to be improved. However, other estimates claim that almost half of small and midsize enterprises either don’t maintain inventories at all or do so manually.

Barcoding

Barcoding inventory is the faster way to communicate inventory information across business operations. The time it takes to scan barcodes and retrieve data on a system when needed is shorter than manually typing and searching information. 

Given the efficiency of barcoding in locating and managing inventory in general, it can boost inventory visibility. Managing inventory without real-time barcode scanning will only get more difficult as the business expands its number of products and warehouses.

You can achieve and experience the benefits of inventory visibility with barcoding. 

Top 5 Benefits of Barcoding Inventory

Avoid unnecessary labor costs.

Manual labor requires more time and effort. Picking the correct product and quantity, auditing inventory, or simply locating products in the storage or warehouse is difficult when done manually. And, as the business demand goes higher, you can only hire more people to keep up with the volume.

With barcode scanners, there’s a lot of time and costs you can save when you can easily look up the information you need instead of typing and searching everything manually.

Avoid picking errors

Picking inventory is one of the important processes in business operations, especially in retail. Cost may be significantly greater in industries that handle expensive goods. Employees may unintentionally pick the incorrect item, pick the incorrect quantity, put inventory in the incorrect location, and make data entries or counting errors. 

Most of these issues can be solved by barcode scanning and inventory tracking solutions which works side by side to get instant and accurate data in just a few seconds.

No more unnecessary buffer inventory

Without proper inventory data, most businesses increase their inventory to make up for their lack of visibility. This is an expensive investment because it leads to more wastage as well as pointless purchases and increased inventory costs. Increased write-offs and write-downs accompanying increased inventories can reduce profitability.

Avoid Data Entry Errors

Manual data entry errors are inevitable. Once those errors are present in your inventory system, they result in inventory issues and shipment errors that can be challenging to identify and fix. It can also affect your customers’ experience and may lead to losses.

There is no chance of error when keying products and quantities using barcode scanning because every data entry is automated.

Inventory Visibility

Multiple locations and increasing customer demand can have a big toll on the business process when locating and managing inventory manually. Without accurate and real-time inventory data, it is impossible to determine the issues you may have in your inventory processes. With barcoding, you can easily find and make note of the real-time inventory levels and locate them fast when needed, and make the necessary adjustments.

The information generated by barcode scanning is the key to having ideal inventory visibility. It can be used to locate the operational inefficiencies in your inventory management process, as well as to spot errors and gauge how well you’re meeting both internal and external goals and consumer expectations.

If you have not used barcode scanning to help you track and manage your inventory, you are probably paying extra costs and taking unnecessary risks due to wasted labor, excess inventory, and other errors that could ultimately cost you a lot and may lead to losing customers.

Top 5 Challenges of Inventory Visibility

When your inventory is hard to find or identify in the warehouse, it results in incomplete, inaccurate, or even delayed products or service fulfillment. Receiving and finding the right stock is vital to efficient inventory management and great customer experiences.

The more the merrier?

Inventory visibility seems simple in meaning. It means knowing what you have on hand and where that inventory is located at any given moment. However, If we look deeper into it, we will realize that it is actually that thing that connects the most crucial aspects of inventory management.

So how does it affect the business when there is a lack of inventory visibility? After we talk about the benefits of inventory visibility, let’s also talk about the challenges. There are lots of negative impacts a lack of visibility can have on any business operation but these are the top 5 challenges your business has to deal with if you have little to no visibility over your inventory.

Challenges of Inventory Visibility

Does your inventory look like this?

1. Prolonged shipment/turnaround times

It’s not enough to know whether you have an item in stock, you also need to show where these items are located. In some cases, fulfilling orders can be cumbersome. There is a lot of pressure in processing orders when you have challenges in looking up the availability of the inventory, and if there is an available inventory, how long the fulfillment team can locate the available inventory and ship them?

This applies to rendering services as well. Spare parts or van stock inventory are pretty small but still hard to manage. Why? Because they move around a lot in multiple locations. If you lack visibility and can’t locate things in the fastest way, you will then have a higher turnaround time.

2. Excessive safety stock which increases inventory carrying cost

You can never opt out of the inventory carrying cost. It plays a very good role in management but it can be a big risk to the business when not monitored. Problems with excessive inventory start when there is no visibility on the actual number of items available, and when there is no confidence about the number of items on hand. You will start buying more buffer inventory which will lead to product piling up.

Inventory visibility can help a lot in minimizing costs like this. Visibility gives confidence that you have the right amount of inventory available at the right time.

3. Risk of Underselling and Overselling Inventory

The risk of underselling and overselling happens in businesses with multiple locations and channels. When there is not enough inventory data that shows all the available inventory in all warehouses and channels, we tend to either oversell or undersell. 

We usually undersell when we are too scared that we go beyond the inventory threshold. Oversell, on the other hand, happens when we are too confident in the number of the inventory we have on hand and we keep on selling items that are no longer available.

It is good that a business has a set inventory threshold and even better the threshold is distributed across the business operation. This means we have centralized access to our inventory data. There will be no mismatched information on inventory levels and we can also leverage our stocks in every location.

4. Inventory Loss or Shrinkage

There are lots of causes of inventory loss but the most common is the lack of inventory visibility. When we do not have visibility over our inventory, we are already opening an opportunity for products to be stolen or damaged without any accountability.

5.  Poor communication and data management

When our business expands and starts to have multiple warehouses and storage locations, it becomes more and more difficult to communicate the reports of one location to another. The separation of data for each location may lead to a lack of visibility and goods stacking up in your storage. 

Good communication starts with good inventory data management. An inventory management system or unified inventory management allows us to have a bird’s eye view of our operations and eliminate other challenges in managing our inventory. When everyone is looking at the same thing, management becomes simpler. There will be no discrepancies between different people’s assessments of the inventory data. Everyone in the company has access to the same data and can make data-driven decisions for the business.

Why you should use an inventory management system?

An inventory management system makes everything easier but the most important feature that a system can offer is inventory visibility which we now know, a very important and usually cannot be done perfectly by people. 

The convenience being offered by an inventory management system exceeds the small investment that will come out of your budget.

Learn more about the real Inventory Visibility and try it for free HERE!

Top 5 Benefits of Inventory Visibility

Can you find all your products?

Inventory visibility contributes to maximizing growth and efficiency within the business. Sometimes in inventory management, it can be difficult to manage and oversee everything. Success in having ideal visibility over your inventory demands a lot of effort especially when you are doing the processes manually. 

Not just in retail, but also in other industries such as manufacturing and industrial plants, inventory management and visibility play an important role. In times of production problems, it is important that there is always a spare inventory available, and easily accessible to fix issues to avoid costly losses.

Inventory visibility in overall inventory management is very significant. Below let’s talk about the top benefits of having inventory visibility.

Benefits of Inventory Visibility

1. Allows having an accurate record of inventory levels

Inventory visibility doesn’t stop at knowing what you have, knowing how many you have and where everything is located across every location promotes having an accurate inventory level. When auditing inventory levels, it will not be as accurate if you can’t locate everything.

Having an accurate record of inventory levels also allows you to replenish just the right amount of products required to sustain a certain cycle before you order again for a new batch of inventory. This helps avoids overstocking and outdated products sitting on your shelves

2. Improves customer experience

Without real-time views into inventory, you risk losing customers who can easily find an alternative retailer or supplier where they know they can purchase from how and when they prefer. The more inventory visibility you have, the easier it is to monitor stock levels across channels and maintain enough inventory to meet customer demand and prevent delays in fulfillment. With improved visibility, you have the ability to optimize stock levels across your network.

3. Increases management efficiency

It is hard to overlook things when you have visibility. Manual inventory tracking requires multiple resources such as lots of time and manpower but with a help of systems like inventory management software improves management efficiency and promotes real-time visibility. When you have the right amount of visibility, it is more efficient to look after your overall inventory.

4. Locating products easier and simpler

We would not want outdated products sitting in our inventory, eating up space somewhere just because we could not locate them. Outdated products will eventually be written off if not disposed of on time. Before these products become unsellable, there is still a way to dispose of them by selling them at a discounted price or exchanging these for new items with the supplier. Locating inventory when you have like a bird’s-eye view of your inventory is something that helps a lot.

5. Supports better decision making


Good inventory visibility yields accurate data records. Data-driven decision-making prevents costly mistakes such as ordering more or less inventory than it should be which could lead to losses and customer disappointment.

Modern Inventory Visibility

When we look back to where inventory management sits in a business operation before, we will see that it was not made to cover multiple retail channels across multiple locations. It usually can manage only the location where inventory is located and where it is being sold and there are separate inventory records for every location a business has.

Nowadays, customer experience becomes more sophisticated each day. Their convenience in purchasing is more of a significant factor now for a business’s growth and the range of channels in which consumers would like to be able to able to access products has enhanced significantly. Having the right level of inventory visibility of what you have in stock is essential to make sure you fulfill what you’re consumers are expecting to be available as shown in these channels. 

How do inventory management systems help improve inventory visibility?

Inventory management systems made the processes simpler. On top of that, it also helps increase the visibility of your inventory. Aside from the top benefits of the inventory management system listed above, there are other features that can help us generally with our inventory. 

The most important aspect of inventory visibility, however, is not always available in all inventory management systems. When we say visibility, the most common criteria are being aware or having access only to the products and quantities you have. What we commonly fail to focus on is the location

When we miss focusing on the location of our inventory, we are risking having overstock and outdated and expired products. Location is essential in inventory visibility, especially when you have multiple locations and warehouses. 

Looking for real Inventory Visibility? You can learn more HERE and try it for free!

Managing Commercial Staging Inventory

Now that almost everything is starting to go back to normal after the pandemic slowed down, the offices that implemented the work-at-home setup are now going back to their workplace. Those who gave up their offices entirely during the pandemic have started to look for spaces again. This gives business opportunities to Staging companies especially those that specialize in commercial office staging to prosper once again.

Why do you need a Staging Inventory Management System?

Commercial Staging is one way to upgrade the property’s value instantly. It is making the property more marketable. The idea is you are selling this picture as the buyer’s prospective work environment, not just a bare workspace. It is to differentiate your office or commercial property from the competition by staging it. It showcases the selling points of the property. Potential buyers or tenants will have a more immersive imagination of feeling the space because staging the furniture and appliances will help them realize the actual size of the space.

Properties that do not have a good floor plan, offices that look gloomy, and are not situated in a very good location are the best candidates for staging. With the help of staging, offices set to be sold or rented become easier to market.

If we will search for some testimonies about how staging helps, we will find plenty of developers and owners saying that even properties with low value were sold fast because of staging.

Staging Inventory Management System

Staging is fun until more and more projects start to come and inventories are moving simultaneously from everywhere. It’s not a bad thing to have this problem because it means the business is performing well, however, you need to be keener in solving these problems to avoid issues related to inventory management from piling up.

Managing your staging inventory very well, especially when you both have your staging furniture or rent them, is essential. All furniture and appliances should be categorized properly and kept tracked all the time. 

This is where a staging inventory management system will come in. It helps in every way of managing all your items. It allows users to know what they have, how much they have, and where are they located.

One of the most powerful features of a Staging Inventory Management System is Barcoding.

Barcoding Your Staging Inventory

Why do you need to start using barcoding your inventory? The benefit of barcoding in home and commercial staging is the same as other businesses, to reduce human errors. It is very common in inventory management for people to just screen the data they’re and/or rely on their muscle memory. This is the main cause of the errors.

With the help of barcoding managing things such as locating items, checking in/out, and reviewing product details, everything becomes faster and more accurate.

Another benefit of barcoding your inventory helps you to reduce your time in organizing your record. When checking items, you don’t need to write them down, go to your computer and sort the items one by one. You just need to scan them and the data will load into your inventory system where you can check anytime.

Downloading Inventory Reports

Aside from barcoding, another best feature a staging inventory system can offer is the option to download all your inventory details. Most of the time, storage and warehouses are limited in this type of business so there will be a time that you need to audit and check how much furniture you have, how many art, decors, and beddings you are available for a new project, check for items that you are less likely to use in the future and have to dispose of or sell them.

There are two types of reports that are downloadable for important reasons.

  • Product details. You should be able to download your product details for auditing, for making sure every item from a certain project is checked out at the end of the project, or for some unforeseen events (fire, robbery, etc.). When you’re able to download reports of a certain staging project, you won’t need to worry about compiling all product details for filing claims. 
  • Activity history. This report should show the changes made in your inventory. Activity history should show the name of the user who made the change, when, and in what location. It helps you keep track of any unusual activity that occurs with your stock in addition to all of your daily activities. Everything will be accounted for.

If you can download all your inventory information, you can easily create a report instead of going into the warehouse, roaming around,  and counting every item manually. Especially when your niche is an office staging business that has some electronics and appliances that need upgrading or changing from time to time to match the current trends.

 

How to Manage Staging Inventory 

What is Home Staging in Real Estate?

Home Staging is a vital element of the real estate industry. It is not just decorating, putting things where you think it’s best, and hoping that the design will come out great. Staging basically means preparing the home for a potential buyer. When selling a home, it is essential that the buyer feels an emotional connection to the property. 

Buyers can get this connection only when the property is staged in a setting where they can imagine themselves living in the property and understand the spaces very well because of the portrayed surroundings. 

Home staging involves decorating, rearranging furniture, and positioning other aesthetic strategies to help the property highlight its selling point and boost its market value. It contributes to the overall improvement of the property. Making it more appealing to as many potential buyers as possible will result in a faster and more profitable sale of the property. 

Home Staging Inventory

Staging inventory is very different from the typical warehouse inventory. Every piece is moving around a lot in multiple project locations every couple of months or even weeks depending on the business size or demand. 

Given this setup, it’s truly hard to keep track of where things are located, which locations have what items, which moving truck has what items, and basically track everything that goes out and goes back of the warehouse.

Common Questions home stagers may have about staging inventory

Since Home Staging became part of the norm in selling real estate properties, it has come to the attention of many stagers that inventory plays a huge role in business success. 

The following are some of the inventory staging questions, especially for those who just started in this industry.

  • How to store the inventory?
  • How to organize staging inventory?
  • What physical tools help in organizing inventory?
  • What inventory system do they use to keep track of staging inventory?

How to store the Staging Inventory?

Storing the staging inventory is very important in this business because most of the time, space is limited. Not maximizing the space for inventory or disorganization may lead to some serious problems, such as the risk of needing additional investment for more storage space or items can get damaged when not stored properly.

Stagers organize and maximize their storage space by doing the following

  • Stacking up chairs and tables with furniture blankets in between to avoid damages
  • Hanging things on the walls
  • Using restaurant shelving to maximize storage
  • Use clear containers with labels for accessories such as kitchen accessories, living room accessories, etc. 
  • Categorizing items by type and keeping similar items by section
  • Keeping items accessible to see what’s available easily 

How to organize the Staging inventory?

The key to organizing the staging inventory is ensuring items are easily accessible and easily seen where they are. The first step is to group and categorize your items.
Grouping items is putting similar items together. Such as putting all art prints together on a shelf where you can effortlessly check when you need them for installation and keeping huge items such as media consoles, coffee tables, or range seatings grouped in one section or room.

Categorizing things is simply gathering items used specifically for certain sections of the property. Accessories, for example, you can put them in a container labeled with different categories such as living room, bathroom, kitchen accessories, and so on. 

How to manage and keep track of your Inventory?

Given the nature of this business, you can easily lose track of your Staging items particularly when peak seasons, and you have multiple staging projects simultaneously. How do you check which items are installed in which project? How many furniture or chairs do you have left in your warehouse available for a new project?

This is where a suitable inventory tracking system will come in handy. Some uses excel in tracking inventory which is very good when you’re business is at the starting phase. When it starts to grow, you’ll see some of the limitations it can do. It can limit to single-person use, has a high risk of human error, and has no activity or transaction history that is inducive to having accountability. 

A Staging Inventory Management System, on the other hand, can do a lot of things. The following are things an inventory system can do. 

Important Features a Staging Inventory Management System must have

Product Catalog

A product catalog is the list of all items in your inventory. It’s not necessarily part of the inventory but this contains all the product information such as price, description, specification, weight, size, and so on.

Customizable fields

This is very helpful in organizing your inventory to easily identify every item you may have. You can either add or remove specifications depending on what information you need for business operations. Below are some of the essential fields you must have in your inventory:

  • Price field. Determines the original value of the item, essential when reporting a loss, or damage in times of a disaster. 
  • Purchase date. It can be used reference to calculate your item’s potential value when you decide to sell. Remember, trends and preferences change almost every day in every market so we can’t keep the same furniture and fixtures forever. 
  • Product description. It helps you quickly identify items by their characteristics such as color, size, and category

Downloadable report

You should be able to download a report especially when it’s time to pack up the things you installed in a specific project. Having a report like this is like having a checklist to make sure that everything installed for a certain project is coming back to your warehouse.

Transaction or Activity History

Staging inventory is very dynamic. There are times that many people need to move things around for different projects making it hard to keep track of which items are being checked out by who, or which items are being placed for what project. Having an inventory system that can track the user’s transactions such as the items that have been checked out, when, and to what project they were installed is the key to having everything accounted for.

Attaching pictures and other files

Having pictures of your items installed into a certain staging project can also help you file claims in case of fire or a disaster. You should be able to keep this in your inventory as well. Another perk of this is being able to install pictures of your items in your product catalog. This can help staging designers easily look for things and they won’t need to roam around the warehouse to pick which items to put in a project.

Inventory Shrinkage: Preventing Loss and Theft by Managing Inventory

What is Shrinkage?

Inventory shrinkage means the number of products in stock falls below the number indicated on the inventory list. The discrepancy could be caused by clerical errors, damaged or lost products, or theft from the point of purchase to the point of sale.

What are the Main Causes of Inventory Shrinkage?

There are different causes of inventory shrinkage depending on the type of business. In retail environments, these are some of the most common that contribute to inventory shrinkage:

  1. Employee theft and customer theft/shoplifting
  2. Administrative error
  3. Damaged or expired products

Missing items in the supply chain can be caused by a lot of factors. Inventory shrinkage in logistics and warehouses is caused by the factors listed above as well as the following:

  1. Over shipments and short-receipts 
  2. Substitution of good items to subquality items
  3. Re-classifications of goods

Employee Theft

Employee theft is one of the causes of inventory shrinkage. It refers to stealing or misuse of business property for personal reasons without documentation or authorization.

This is very damaging in every business. It happens every step along the process from manufacturing to shipping to warehousing to retail.

Employee Theft affects a lot of aspects of the business and primarily costs. To recoup the losses, businesses may try to increase orders to reach the ideal profit margin or increase the price of products. But with this method, they are putting more finances into acquiring goods to sell and might also lose price-sensitive consumers looking elsewhere to find similar products with lower prices. 

The things that are commonly stolen are not just money, it can also be the following:
  • Supplies Theft. Employees take office supplies such as items for manufacturing, computer peripherals, notebooks, and other small items that are still big in cost when accumulated
  • Merchandise theft. When employees are stealing items that are supposed to be sold to the customers.
  • Information and Time Theft. Information theft is trading a company’s private information or selling company designs and time theft is when an employee is not working while on the clock and still being paid.

Why Do Employees Steal?

Theft can be encouraged by several factors but the common factors are motivation and opportunity. One of the motives for people to take stuff is because they are underpaid. Employees may be overworked, therefore stealing something, whether it’s time or money, is acceptable since they believe it’s owed to them. 

The opportunity to steal is another contributor to employee theft. If the company’s security is lax, there will always be an opportunity to steal, which will motivate those employees who already have ulterior motives.

Why Does Employee Theft Matter?

If you’re wondering if employee theft is an expense, the answer is a big YES! and it’s a huge expense especially when it accumulates over time.

Though it may be costly to protect valuable assets and investigate employee theft, there are several reasons why businesses need to do so. Here are some of the negative results of employee theft:

Profit loss

Suppose a business loses inventory due to employee theft. In that case, it will be unable to recover the cost of the inventory because there will be no inventory to sell or return to the vendor.

Losing customers over the price increase

Some businesses try to recover losses by increasing the price of available goods to account for the losses in inventory. This means the customers will be the ones to shoulder the costs and this has a huge impact especially when the customers have a sensitive budget where a slight change in price affects their buying behavior, worst is when they try to look for other merchants for alternatives.

Problems in business operations

Because of theft losses, businesses may allocate more funds to other areas such as security. They invest in more security guards, CCTVs, and other technology just to decrease the occurrence. This results in a further decrease in profits and also a decrease in purchasing capacity.

How to Prevent Employee Theft?

Given the numerous negative effects of theft on every business, we must take action to minimize it. The following are the simple yet effective ways to reduce shrinkage:

  1. Tighten security.
  2. Hire and assign reliable employees.
  3. Check transactions each day.
  4. Reduce or eliminate human errors by using a system.
  5. Keeping a record of the losses.

Use of Inventory Management System

Human errors and omissions can be avoided by automating the inventory management process. A dedicated inventory management system can assist in reducing human stock handling and inventory shrinkage.

All people participating in the inventory management process will be held accountable by the software. It will track the inventory’s location from point to point and provide logs for all users that made adjustments to the inventory.

Aside from reducing risks of shrinkage, inventory management systems also offer other features that can optimize inventory processes. One of these features is inventory visibility which makes it easier to locate things in your inventory and make sure inventory levels are at the optimal level.

Conclusion

Because there are so many ways for one person to steal, organizations must make good use of resources to effectively protect the most valuable items. Using inventory management software is one method to reduce the risk of employee theft and inventory shrinkage in general, but you should also consider if employees feel appreciated and whether your gratitude for their efforts is reflected in their pay. This will eliminate any thoughts of resentment, which might lead to the motivation to steal goods they believe they are owed.

Why is Inventory Management Important for a Pharmacy?

What is inventory in pharmacy?

Inventory is the biggest asset of any pharmacy. Pharmacy inventory refers to the contents of medicine containers and all prescription drugs. How you handle pharmacy inventory decides whether you maximize revenue or yield losses.

Pharmacy inventory management is the life of business operations. Unopened, partially opened, in processed drugs are all part of the pharmacy inventory processes. How you track the movements of every product from every step is one way to minimize losses and maximize efficiency in handling your inventory.

There are various types of pharmacies, but the retail pharmacy and hospital pharmacy are the two most common. Both serve almost the same market (generally, patients in need of medications), but their inventories are commonly handled differently.

What is the difference between Hospital Pharmacy and Retail Pharmacy Inventory Management?

Retail Pharmacy

In a retail pharmacy setting, pharmacy technicians fill prescriptions written by doctors. They provide medicines that the consumer can handle independently and occasionally make substitutions based on availability. In terms of inventory, retail pharmacy inventory has a more expanded list of products, they have an open medication inventory and are always ready to cater to the majority of consumers who requires them.

Hospital Pharmacy

Hospital pharmacy, on the other hand, deals with more complicated cases. Pharmacy technicians at hospitals do the same duties as those in retail pharmacies, but their job is quite more complex because they also handle compounding medications. Inventory management in hospital pharmacy is a little different, hospitals keep a close inventory of drugs regularly used to treat more complicated medical cases.

Challenges in Pharmacy Inventory Management

Whatever type of pharmacy you handle, the problem you may always encounter is related to the inventory.

Problems and solutions in the pharmaceutical industry vary based on location, demand, and budget.

Pharmacy inventory management, especially in hospitals, deals with a different level of pressure. This is because drugs are being used by patients and having stockouts because of an improper way of handling inventory may result in big trouble.

To achieve a streamlined pharmacy inventory, you must first address the following questions:

  • What items do you have in stock?
  • Where are they being kept?
  • (For hospital pharmacy) Is the inventory on hand match what each department (compounding, dispensing, packaging, etc.) should have?
  • Are any items about to, or already expired?
  • Are there any missing items?

Every question above has answers that fall onto areas supposedly covered by inventory visibility and control. If some of the questions are not answered, problems might pile up in the long run.  

If you can confidently answer all of the above questions, you’re probably doing well with your inventory. If you’re having trouble doing so, you may need to review your inventory management system and protocols.

How Can Pharmacy Improve Inventory?

One of the solutions for the physical inventory you have is to invest in a high-quality medical storage unit. Modern storage containers offer benefits for organizing your inventory, making the most of your available space, and optimizing your workspace.

In addition to medical storage for your physical inventory, you must invest in a quality inventory management system that can help you streamline your daily operations. Using pharmacy inventory management systems, you may prepare and examine reports to analyze your stock, build plans to improve inventory control, keep track of the number of drugs in your inventory, and avoid stockouts and overstocks.

Most pharmacies these days rely on a rudimentary system that solves only the basics and often missed other inventory challenges. The following are some of the typical challenges pharmacy technicians face on a daily basis, as well as the solutions offered by pharmacy inventory management systems:

Inability to access operations data

Hundreds of medications and multiple locations (shelves, drawers, cabinets, etc.) must be managed in a pharmacy. It’s easy when you have a bird’s eye view of the entire process in this situation. Today’s technology allows everyone to view the status of each location, whether to evaluate the need for replenishment or to just do some routine auditing.

Tracking movements and inventory levels

Inventory levels refer to the number of goods or supplies you have on hand across your whole distribution network. Pharmacies establish minimum stock levels that must always be met in order for a drug item to be dispensed. The system will notify the management when an item drops below the threshold, triggering them to make an immediate order for replenishment.

This seems like a basic principle, but with a manual inventory system, this involves significant time investment. With inventory management systems, you can easily keep track of everything you take out and even the items that are moved from one location to another.

Update pricing and put proper costing information

When updating pricing manually in an excel sheet is very time-consuming and prone to human error. Inventory management solutions offer search fields where you can search for specific drugs and update not only the pricing but also other product information. This boosts tracking revenue by properly getting expense data.

Expiration dates

Expired items lead to huge capital losses.  The common strategy is to rotate stock on the shelves. The sooner the product expiration dates should be rotated to the front and the later the expiry date should be put to the rear. 

Even though it’s a straightforward procedure, human error can cause it to fail. Some pharmacy inventory management systems have a function that allows you to adjust each product’s expiration date and receive a signal when that date approaches. This way, you’ll know which things to distribute first.

Everything is manual

It’s great when a pharmacy distributor provides an inventory system as a reward for purchasing from them, but most distributors don’t, and pharmacies must figure out how to manage their inventory as efficiently as possible on their own. Many pharmacy managers spend weeks or even months experimenting with inventory solutions to see if they can help them with even the most basic issues. Worse, they have to manage manually while waiting for the optimal solution, which means they end up roaming around, manually counting items, and checking their status.

Even simple tasks like moving items from one location to another sometimes require a long process just to keep track of every change made. But with a pharmacy inventory management system, you may effortlessly drag and drop things between places, use barcode scanners to search for items and locations, and update quantity and pricing information.  You won’t have to worry about losing track of every item because everything is recorded, including who moved them, when they were moved, and where they went.

Shrinkage in Pharmacy

Before the pandemic, there are already challenges in every inventory management. But when COVID spread, even the uncommon problems now add up and became frequent.

One of the biggest challenges right now in pharmacy inventory management is shrinkage. Because of the strong demand for pandemic-related commodities and the limited supply, most pharmacies may have attempted to buy in bulk. If this is the case, pharmacy inventory technicians must strengthen their monitoring of those items because people may act inappropriately in pandemic scenarios, resulting in employee theft and shrinkages. Unrecorded losses are frequently detected only during routine inventory audits or, even worse after the item has already been declared as out of stock (when it shouldn’t have been).

Shrinkage concerns can now be resolved with the help of modern technology. Pharmacy inventory management systems keep track of everything from purchase through repackaging, storage, and putting items on shelves for sale. Every product movement is recorded, including who last touched it, when it happened, and where it was located. Aside from that, pharmacy inventory management systems provide centralized data management, allowing you to check if inventory is still at its optimal level and that you can alert the distributor quickly if it isn’t. Shrinkages and employee theft are less likely to occur when everything is accounted for in a system like this.

Conclusion

Each pharmacy is unique. They are comparable only because of the common processes they use to optimize management. What keeps the business running is knowing what your minimum/maximum order is, what the suggested order is, what you actually ordered, what you have on hand, what to place on the shelf, and how much they cost. It is critical that all these are answered based on accurate data from your inventory management system.

The ideal inventory management doesn’t stop with knowing what and how much inventory you have. It should extend to knowing where everything is located at any given moment.

Inventory control guarantees that the proper amount of inventory is on hand. The most significant features are demand planning and shrinkage minimization. To make the best business decisions possible, inventory control requires reliable data all of the time.

The bottom line is that whatever the issue is, it usually boils down to visibility and control challenges, so if you’re having trouble optimizing your stocks and demand planning, you might want to dig a little deeper into these two critical areas and see if your current inventory practices or solutions address these two important aspects of pharmacy inventory management.

Managing Trunk Stock and Maintenance Spare Parts Inventory

The way we handle inventory is determined by the inventory kinds we have. When we think of inventory management, we normally think of direct inventory, which are raw materials for manufacturing, and retail or wholesale, which are direct inventory purchases that are shelved to be sold.

What is spare parts inventory?

Spare parts inventory refers to interchangeable items such as service parts, replacement parts, or repair parts. These items are so important that they generally have a negative impact on overall operations when not readily available or cannot be obtained in the shortest time possible.

Multiple locations and vehicles are common with this type of inventory which results in many problems that manual tracking can’t manage. Trunk stock and spare parts inventory are either very dynamic or very static and it requires a different strategy than traditional retail inventory management.

Classification of Spare Parts Inventory

1. Service Parts

Trunk stock and spare parts inventory in the field service industry is different from inventory in manufacturing. Items from this type of inventory are most likely kept at a hospital or move around a lot in a vehicle, making them more dynamic. The following are some of the issues and difficulties that come with having a trunk stock inventory:

Storing too many items

Field technicians have a habit of always having a large number of spare parts with them. It’s possible that they just used a small portion of the stock, keeping the remainder in the trunk. These things are not bringing in immediate revenue, thus the costs are not being covered right away.

Unaccountability

Trunk stock and spare parts are very hard to track. Field technicians often lose track of how much inventory they have when they are focused on providing services to customers. They may recognize what they have but usually don’t know how much they have. Items can be lost easily because of no accountability and very low visibility.

Repackaging kits to make them complete

Medical trunk stock is for those partially used surgical/medical kits that must be returned to a stocking location, sanitized, and repackaged with missing parts to make it a complete set.  It’s hard to keep an accurate record of these processes when doing it manually.

2. Maintenance Parts in Manufacturing

The majority of inventory management knowledge does not apply to spare parts in manufacturing. These are not things that should be put on the shelf to be sold, this type of inventory management has its own set of rules. They are static inventory that is kept on shelves to service equipment that’s critical to large industrial plants, which can’t afford to have delays due to equipment failures because it will cost them a lot of money.

The following are the things you need to look into when managing a spare parts inventory.

Slow-Moving Items

With a common type of inventory management, we think we don’t need slow-moving items. In spare parts inventory management for huge manufacturing plants, however, slow-moving goods or those that don’t move at all such as insurance spares are the stuff you should wish you weren’t using. This is because you have to use them only when something bad happened or production was interrupted.

Expensive Stockout Costs

The actual price of an item may be irrelevant in large manufacturing plants because the stock-out cost is calculated based on how much impact it can have on the entire operation. That is why inventory administrators should think differently when determining how many things they need to keep on hand to ensure that operations are not disrupted.

Having a Centralized System

Goals or updates in the manufacturing or processing operations should be cascaded effectively to maximize the efficiency of each operation. This has to do with a centralized data management system, that allows everyone to know what you have on hand, and where are they located in order to assist in manufacturing or processing activities.

Spare Parts Inventory Management Systems

ERP systems are commonly best for retail inventory management. The problems and other things you need to look into in spare parts management are best handled by inventory management systems that are specifically made for this type of inventory.

Here’s how inventory management systems can help.

  • Field Service. When storing dynamic items, it’s easy to lose track of everything. With barcoding, inventory mapping, and activity history, cases of missing items and theft would decrease. Managers will be able to see which items were checked out, who checked them out, and where they are located. Everything that comes in and out of the warehouse is accounted for and it is easier to locate products.
  • Manufacturing. Though spare parts inventory moves very slowly, it still plays an important role in the business. The goal is to see exactly where items are located and what quantities are on hand at all times. When these things are needed, managers must locate them quickly to reduce downtime costs, and because the cost is so high, they should be keen on understanding what and how much they have on hold.

No one buys inventory with the intention of wasting money.  How you handle operations and what system you use, determines the outcome for trunk stock and spare parts management.

Some companies find cost-cutting opportunities by examining their inventory to evaluate if the things they have are truly necessary for day-to-day operations. Since trunk stock and spare parts inventory is very dynamic,  inventory managers have put in a lot of work to keep track of almost everything.

They check whether parts and supplies are available or not, what needs to be returned to the stocking point for repacking, and inventory movement in general. The inventory management system can make this process much easier by boosting inventory visibility, it assists businesses in assuring accountability, avoiding shrinkage, and decreasing purchase order errors.

Simplifying Inventory Management for Municipalities and Other Government Agencies

Municipalities are one of the busiest organizations. Unlike manufacturing and warehousing, this organization has different departments with numerous people needing supplies and peripherals to perform their jobs. The police stations, fire stations, and health units are some of those departments that need different types of supplies and equipment.

Manual operations frequently result in misplaced or lost tools, consumable supplies, and other peripherals. The manual data gathering procedures of the past are no longer capable of keeping the warehousing needs of today even for small businesses and government agencies. 

Accurate inventory stock levels are also difficult to determine due to inaccuracies and backlogs. Manual procedures, in other words, are a waste of time and money.

The Inventory Process

Inventory management tasks such as procurement, receipt, recording, issuing, and storekeeping are being divided among officials to manage inventory for municipalities. Segregation of duties is beneficial to avoid potential errors and fraud. 

What’s best for organizations with processes like this is to have a centralized system that gives real-time information and inventory visibility. The organizational structure alone is very extended and when it comes to handling the multiple locations and departments, it’s hard to keep track of which department has what supplies and assets, and how many items are left in the inventory.

Optimizing the inventory itself might appear to be a difficult task, however, with the help of today’s technology, it is still possible to enhance the management of inventory while reducing the cost. Automated technologies like inventory management software are being used by organizations to streamline inventory processes and be in control of everything on hand to become more efficient and always record-ready for auditing and reporting.

The best features to consider in an inventory management system for organizations like municipalities are the following

  • Inventory mapping
  • Inventory loss prevention
  • Inventory level indicator and expiration date
  • Barcoding
  • Drag and drop items between locations

Inventory mapping

It is one of the new features in some of the inventory management systems. Municipalities have numerous departments which are equivalent to multiple locations that need to be managed. Inventory mapping offers a dashboard where these locations can be mapped based on their actual location in an office. Users can create sublocations such as rooms, shelves, cabinets, and even drawers and vehicles and zoom into these locations to view contents. 

Inventory loss prevention

Inventory loss can occur for a variety of causes, including human mistakes or fraudulent conduct such as theft. Loss may be avoided by keeping track of inventory activities. With activity history, important information such as who, when, and why supplies and assets are moved or checked out is tracked and recorded.

Inventory level indicator and expiration date

The inventory level indicator is quite useful when it comes to keeping the ideal inventory level. Storekeepers will know what items and when replenishments should be ordered based on the selected threshold. Expiration dates aren’t just for perishable goods, they can also be used as a reminder for routine maintenance or auditing. This is also where the useful life of certain equipment may be set to determine if it performed its function for the specified amount of time or to use as a reference if it has to be replaced soon.

Barcoding

Barcoding is a common kind of automated data collecting. It is a proven and reliable approach that has been used for decades. Barcode labels can be developed and attached to assets and supplies. Each barcode label contains important information about the object such as the description and the identification number.

Drag and drop items between locations

Drag and drop is very useful in day-to-day operations for quick transactions like distributing consumable supplies and assigning equipment to each office department.


Automated inventory management ensures data collection is accurate. It’s easier to optimize inventories and recognize where adjustments are needed. The ultimate goal is to achieve efficiency and get a hold of accurate and detailed information anytime.

Ineffective inventory management has a significant impact on both cost and service delivery. Inventory shortages, in particular, affect service delivery, while excess inventory leads to higher costs. As a result, one of the most important goals of inventory management is to guarantee that the ideal amount of inventory is accessible to achieve defined service levels while keeping prices low.

If your department’s existing approach to inventory management continues to cause issues, you may want to reconsider your present procedures. Municipalities and other public sectors do not have standard inventory management since it is dependent on the needs of the organization to carry out its mission. 

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