MANAGING INVENTORY IN THE FIELD: Medical Trunk Stock and Consignment Inventory

Field inventory is critical in many businesses, especially medical device manufacturing. Medical manufacturing companies often get problems because of challenges in managing their products.

Trunk stock inventory which is field inventory carried and sold by field engineers or sales representatives, can help companies accommodate customers’ needs, gain a foothold in new markets, or maintain and expand sales in existing markets. However, managing trunk stock inventory can be challenging, mainly if there is no visibility into inventory levels or if inventory movement and usage data need to be more accurate.

Consignment inventory is a supply chain model in which a retailer sells a product, but the supplier retains ownership until the goods is sold. Unsold products can be returned since the retailer does not buy the inventory until it is sold.

What is Trunk Stock Inventory for Medical Devices?

In the medical device industry, trunk stock for medical devices is a business practice where the medical sales representatives will offer doctors the inventory they carry in their trunk. It is particularly critical to managing because it is always located in different areas and overseen by multiple people simultaneously. 

Trunk stock or van stock inventory is an inventory that is immediately available for services or sales and usually covers large geographical areas in operations. 

Manual tracking is beyond difficult in this type of business, so implementing an inventory management system is beneficial. By using such a system, companies can gain visibility into inventory levels and movement, which is necessary for accurate forecasting, planning, and restocking.

What is Consignment Inventory for Medical Devices

Practicing a consignment inventory has a lot of positive impacts on medical device manufacturers and hospitals or doctor’s offices. However, it’s more of a win for hospitals and doctor’s offices because they are assured of the availability of most products without committing to purchasing and storing the inventory they need. 

Consignment inventory is a strategy in which a company consigns products and devices to a doctor, doctor’s office, hospital etc. The consignee (doctor’s office, hospital) holds the item until they are sold or consumed.

Medical device manufacturers are mostly burdened with maintaining inventory levels and obsolescence and are responsible for maintaining control over the inventory. The representatives to maintain inventory levels in the consignment location often are not motivated to do even minor tasks in maintaining the inventory counts and doing expiration audits. 

The medical device manufacturers’ side is primarily responsible for maintaining control over the inventory. The products are assigned to a third party, making it incredibly challenging to track the movements. For instance, in hospitals, there are occasions when things need to be moved from one hospital or department to another. Due to some emergencies, the movements of products typically happen quickly, so proper documentation is commonly neglected.

What are the benefits of trunk stock and consignment inventory?

  • Field transfers – Product availability is one crucial factor in the medical field. To maximize the availability of products, transferring products from one location to another (sales rep to another sales rep, or hospital to hospital) made it possible to have inventory available most of the time, catering to the customer’s demand and avoiding missing sales opportunities.
  • Improved Sales – By having trunk stock and consigned inventory, you’re making inventory readily available. Because of this, companies can quickly expand their market reach and maintain their current markets. Sales reps can also offer potential customers immediate access to products that will result in to increase in sales and revenue. 
  • Faster Response Times – With trunk stock consigned inventory dispersed and handled in multiple locations, companies can quickly respond to customers’ needs and even promote products that customers might need, rather than waiting for products to be shipped somewhere. Sales reps and consigned inventory can provide immediate access to necessary medical devices. 

Managing Medical Trunk Stock and Consignment Inventory

Medical trunk stock and consignment inventory are often invisible to companies’ control. Though it significantly benefits the operations, it also has some challenges. The following are common problems being encountered with this type of inventory:

Inventory Tracking – Since products are dispersed across multiple locations, it frequently creates a problem with tracking inventory levels and updating essential data. 

Limited VisibilityInventory in the field is one of the types of inventory that is difficult to monitor. Products are in various places and are handled by different people simultaneously, so the movement and usage of products are really hard to keep track of. 

Product Obsolescence – Products can quickly become obsolete, mainly consigned inventories, because of fast technological advances. 

There are several practices to manage trunk stock inventory. First, it is essential to establish basic and straightforward procedures for ordering, documenting, properly storing, and assigning them to sales reps or preparing them for consignment. Next, tracking inventory movement and usage in real-time is crucial, including monitoring which items are being used and which are sitting on the trunk. 

On top of these practices, manually tracking trunk stock and consigned inventory is challenging. Companies must implement a robust inventory management system to overcome the challenges of managing trunk stock inventory. Inventory management systems provide real-time visibility into inventory levels and movement, making tracking inventory accurately and making informed decisions easier.

Inventory Management System for Inventory in the Field

Inventory in the field command features is dynamic and always in various places. Although making products available in multiple locations benefits medical device manufacturers, it also poses some serious difficulties that can result in huge losses when not handled properly. 

This is where inventory management software like CyberStockroom comes in. The most important feature of an inventory management system for field inventory is its real-time visibility. It provides inventory control for medical manufacturers. With the system’s tracking ability, users can track inventory movement and usage, making monitoring which items are consumed or moved from one location to another easier.

CyberStockroom’s Hospital Demo Map

Some inventory management systems even offer advanced tracking features that allow you to visually map all the locations where the products are consigned, whether a hospital, a doctor’s office, or a sales rep’s trunk. 

Aside from inventory visibility, there are other ways how inventory management software can help with keeping track of trunk stock and consigned inventory.

  • Expiration dates: Field inventory, mainly consigned inventory in hospitals, is at high risk of overstocking because most medical devices require different configurations and variations to address their patients’ unique demands. Overstocking products commonly results in obsolescence when not handled properly. Inventory management systems offer features that will allow you to monitor devices nearing expiration dates which will help you take the necessary actions to reduce the risk of unused inventory. 
  • Reporting capabilities: Users can generate reports to gain insights into inventory levels, usage, and movement, which is necessary for accurate forecasting, planning, and restocking. This feature is beneficial for both trunk stock and consignment inventory, making it easier to maintain control over inventory and have accountability for every product in every location you have, decreasing the risk of theft and inventory losses. 
  • Centralized inventory management system: Dispersed inventory is difficult to keep track of. With the centralized inventory feature, everyone sees the same inventory level and will not confuse each other with different inventory numbers in different places. This feature will also allow users to see which department or location has a particular device, and they can easily coordinate with each other if they need to fulfill something they don’t have. 
  • User-friendly interface: CyberStockroom offers a user-friendly interface accessible from any device with an internet connection. This makes it easy to manage inventory from anywhere at any time. Its features can help businesses in the medical device industry better understand their inventory levels, improve sales, and respond quickly to customer needs.


In the medical device industry, keeping track of the products is one of the most essential parts. Trunk Stock and Consignment Inventory consist of dynamic inventory and require precise management. A company can set up a process that can help them oversee the operations. However, doing it all manually can be cumbersome and prone to errors. Hence, it is best to consider acquiring an inventory management system like CyberStockroom to help you manage the inventory.

Aside from inventory visibility, inventory management systems allow users to trace the complete history of every item in their inventory as it moves between locations and people. Users also don’t need to worry about missing essential inventory updates as they are available in real time. All people involved in the operations are accountable for every item they handle.


Published by Claude.Rivera

I have a passion for new things. It excites and challenges me. Reading and writing take me to different worlds. Literally, escape. I'm a dancer wannabe and a not-so-pro gamer.

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