Warehouse Management

The FEFO Method for Expiry Date Inventory Management Guidelines

Industries that deal in perishable or low shelf-life products such as baby care, cosmetics, personal care, etc. can incur significant losses due to obsolescence or expiry of stock. It is, therefore, crucial for them to assign expiry dates for each batch, and push the near-expiry stock to the stores first. Automated WMS solutions now enable brands to pick as per expiry dates, and set accurate timelines and notifications, alerting them when a particular batch is about to get expired.

What is FEFO?

First Expiry First Out (FEFO) is a variant of the well-known First-In-First-Out (FIFO) method of stock rotation, but with a focus on a product’s expiry date, as opposed to its manufacturing date or date on which it was shelved in the warehouse. Under this technique, the product or batch with the earliest expiration date is pushed to the stores first, to avoid its obsolescence.

FEFO inventory management ensures that each product that is being sold is well within the expiry date, is fresh, and fit for consumption. FEFO also avoids the labour costs and efforts associated with inspection and checking of expiry dates, which could be quite tedious and time-consuming. With WMS tools like Increff WMS, brands can have complete visibility of their stock, and get help in expiry date management without being overwhelmed by any manual effort.

How can barcoding (inventory serialization) improve the supply chain?

Barcoding or inventory serialization makes it highly convenient to manage inventory, and track products in the warehouse and throughout the supply chain. By storing the complete information of a product, a barcode avoids errors and inaccuracies, which could bleed across functions and snowball along the supply chain.

With barcoding, brands can benefit from automatic product identification, recognition, and data implementation. This means hours’ worth of effort is accomplished in a few minutes, significantly boosting the overall productivity and reducing labour costs.

One of the major benefits of barcoding is quality control and avoiding the obsolescence of products. A barcode stores batch numbers and product expiry information, which can be accessed by WMS tools to pick and ship the near-expiry batches first.

FEFO helps reduce inventory wastage

FEFO inventory rotation can improve your profitability and reduce wastage of inventory. By automating the entire process of exposing and shipping out the near-expiry batches first, retailers no longer have to be constantly worried about wastage due to inventory expiry. In the case of industries like food processing or fast-food chains, this method allows using up all the ingredients while they’re still fresh to consume, avoiding wastage and spoilage.

Benefits of FEFO warehouse and inventory software

Businesses get a number of benefits with a simple switch to a FEFO warehouse and inventory software. These have a significant impact on not just the backed processes but also their product marketability and brand reputation.

1) Increased buyer confidence

Most customers check the product expiry dates while making a purchase at a store. Some customers who perceive a product to be too close to the expiration date can drop the idea of purchasing altogether. Product freshness is an important determinant of consumer interest across industries, especially in the case of products with low shelf life.

With FEFO, you can get items off the shelves with the longest possible lead time on the expiration date. Distributors and stores receive the products well in advance of expiration. This gives the end customers a sense of confidence and establishes their faith in the brand, for always offering fresh products.

2) Reduce the number of expired goods

Every retailer wants to ensure they eliminate or minimize the number of unsellable and expired goods on their shelves. With FEFO, they can ensure that their inventory management software picks and ships goods according to the approaching expiry dates. This reduces the risk of having unsellable goods on the shelves and also the piling inventory storage costs. FEFO enables retailers to avoid deadstock, and therefore also the cost of stock expiring on their shelves. 

3) Manage physical layout of warehouses

With inventory management focussed on the expiry dates of a package, the warehouse follows a layout that enables faster and more convenient picking of items that are approaching their expiry date, thus streamlining the warehouse inventory management.

4) Streamline the flow of items

It is very important for the warehouse staff to know the expiry dates of products and have an estimate of how long all the processes take on the floor. This ensures the items flow in a smooth way and the best results are guaranteed.

FEFO warehouse and inventory software automate your picking, packing, and shipping by keeping the expiry date at the very center of inventory management. This offers significant benefits in terms of streamlining your backend processes, enhancing your brand value, and boosting customer satisfaction.


How Distributed Warehousing Benefits e-Commerce

According to a survey, around 33% of customers have higher expectations for fast shipping, 40% for free shipping, and 42% expect a 2-day shipping option for every purchase. As customer expectations rise, e-commerce players face increasing pressure to provide more competent and efficient deliveries. This requires a new outlook toward backed processes and warehousing strategies. More and more companies are switching to the distributed warehousing model, as they provide the required flexibility and faster ecommerce fulfillment that today’s marketplace demands. In this blog, we talk about what distributed warehousing is and why ecommerce players are adopting it as a strategy.

Centralized vs Decentralized Warehousing

Both centralized and decentralized warehousing can be used as a distribution strategy depending upon business requirements, growth, and type of industry. Centralized warehousing means better inventory control, low operation costs, low inbound costs, high-quality standards, and customer service. On the other hand, it leads to high shipping costs for outbound shipments, increased shipping timelines, and a lack of business continuity. All these disadvantages can be covered by decentralizing your warehousing or opting for warehousing distribution.

Distributed warehousing is a business approach where a business fulfills, ships, or distributes goods from multiple smaller and strategically located warehouses. This enables businesses to locate the products as close to their end customers as possible, thus reducing the time and cost of delivery. Distributed warehousing allows brands to perform a number of functions, that is, storage, distribution, fulfillment, and cross-docking in a more flexible and efficient way.

When to go for distributed warehousing

As brands gain a larger market share geographically, the outbound costs of fulfillment from a centralized warehouse tend to rise as well. This is primarily due to the growing distance between the warehouse and the end customers. At one point, having a new warehouse close to the customer becomes more affordable as compared to fulfilling from a faraway centralized warehouse. Following the conventional cost-benefit wisdom, this is when businesses tend to make the switch to a distributed warehouse model.

How Distributed Warehousing Benefits Brands

As businesses expand geographically, managing the different aspects of a supply chain can become increasingly challenging. Packages may have to go through various locations or be routed through complex pathways before they reach the end customer. These complexities can be handled better by a distributed warehousing strategy. 

Short supply chain

By shortening the supply chains and fulfilling locally, e-commerce companies can reduce their transportation costs, ensure quality in case of perishables, provide faster order fulfillment, and reduce transportation risks. It also allows businesses to rise up to the new challenges of same-day delivery. Besides, shorter supply chains are a step in the direction of sustainable business, as these involve lesser CO2 emissions, reduced transportation costs, and the least possible environmental impact.

Lesser shipping and fulfillment costs

Speed of delivery is crucial but the cost of delivery is even more so, from the commercial point of view. This is all the more important as customers increasingly expect free delivery from their trusted brands. In most cases, the cost of shipping is a function of the shipping distance. Therefore, by locating the warehouses closer to the customer clusters, businesses can cut their average shipping costs.

Robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

A number of unforeseen incidents or catastrophes such as fire, floods, pandemic, and conflict, can disrupt businesses and their supply chains. Having alternative storage and routing facilities in place, courtesy of distributed warehousing can support business operations even during emergencies. Glitch-free operations and on-time promised fulfillment can go a long way in maintaining customer satisfaction and upholding brand reputation. 

Benefits of Outsourcing Warehousing Distribution

Distributed warehousing is well in line with outsourced warehousing as they allow the replacement of CAPEX with OPEX for an expanding business. 3PL providers in fact play a significant role in ensuring seamless operations while enabling brands to control their logistics costs. Their warehousing and distribution services are aimed at maximizing efficiency in terms of storage and distribution of goods. With outsourced warehousing, businesses can also enjoy greater scalability in times of peak demand or rapid business growth.

Outsourced warehousing and fulfillment takes the burden off the shoulders of the management, and allows them to focus on their growth strategy. As a substantial portion of supply chain management goes into the hands of the 3PL partner, they can bring in better integration, problem-solving, innovation, and integration.

How does WMS fit into the puzzle?

Managing multiple warehouses, keeping track of the collective inventory across warehouses, picking and shipping the right items, and tracing packages as they are routed through the increasingly complex supply chain requires an automated solution. A Warehouse Management System (WMS) takes care of all these processes which could appear rather overwhelming as distributed warehousing takes full effect. A WMS helps avoid errors, ensures high-level performance accuracy, and keeps your supply chain well-oiled.


Faster Omnichannel Order Fulfillment is the Future of Retail

Speed is one of the defining factors of omnichannel order fulfillment. According to a recent Mckinsey report, when delivery times are too long, almost half of the omnichannel customers will shop from elsewhere. To match growing customer expectations, brands like Amazon started off with an 8-day delivery horizon in the early 2000s, accelerated to two-day shipping by 2015, and even same-day deliveries in some markets by 2019. 

In fact, best-in-class omnichannel operations can now provide order fulfillment within two hours of purchase. Omnichannel has transformed order fulfillment by introducing dynamic routing of packages. Brands don’t just follow a linear fulfillment path from the warehouse to the customer, but even use their stores for order fulfillment.

Benefits of Omnichannel Order Management

Omnichannel order management orchestrates all orders across the enterprise and allows access to customer, order, and inventory information across channels. Here are some of the most significant benefits of omnichannel order management.

  1. Faster shipping at a lower cost: By utilizing nearby warehouses and stores, brands are able to deliver to their end customers faster and at much lower costs.
  1. Multiple purchase channels: Omnichannel offers customers endless options to choose from. Customers can buy online, in-store, or buy online and pick up in-store, as per their convenience.
  2. Personalized shopping experience:  By having a 360-degree of the customer, brands offer a uniquely personalized omnichannel experience to their customers that best suit their needs and ensures convenience.
  3. Real-time visibility: Omnichannel provides visibility of inventory across the channels and enables brands to provide updated and accurate information to customers.
  4. Empowers employees: With omnichannel OMS, employees can have information on real-time inventory, availability, and shopping history at their fingertips. This enables them to serve their customers more effectively.

Tackling the Same-Day Delivery Challenge

Same-day deliveries have become a new normal in many industries and among large urban customer groups. An ideal omnichannel strategy can help address the challenges of same-day delivery by offering a more flexible and agile supply chain support. With their dense network of stores, retailers can ensure greater proximity to their customer groups. Having the right kind of IT and automation support, brands can coordinate among channels, to offer the fastest-possible fulfillment. 

The evolving role of brick and mortar stores

Even though online shopping has made a serious leap during and since the pandemic, in-store shopping is not going away. Brands need to reimagine the role of their brick-and-mortar infrastructure, as they can act as strategic assets for same-day delivery. In doing so, they can maintain their current layouts, fully transform into dark stores or become a hybrid of the two. Stores also have a crucial role to play in building brand experience for customers and a way to give a first-hand experience of products.

Physical stores are a critical link in the process of channel integration, and keep the customer journey across channels seamless and fluid. According to a recent Mckinsey survey, senior executives from the ten largest North American retailers reported that during the pandemic, they received higher growth in e-commerce sales in areas with a physical presence as compared to those without brick-and-mortar stores.

Is Omnichannel the Future of Retail?

Customers are rapidly developing a taste for path-breaking fulfillment ideas like BOPIS (Buy Online Pick up In-Store), and the Click and Collect model that enables them to order online, and then simply walk into a nearby store to collect the product. Omnichannel commerce evidently offers ease, agility, and unprecedented levels of CX. 

By offering highly personalized communications and services, omnichannel puts each individual customer at the very center of e-commerce operations. It provides brands with a great opportunity to collect more data and track customer behavior across distribution channels. This translates into better-informed business decisions and more effective strategies.

Omnichannel offers customers a consistent and coherent shopping experience, also ensuring better customer service as the operations rely on a common and centralized database. No matter where the customer makes the purchase finally, they can research the product on numerous channels of distribution to receive the same information. This ensures seamless CX and the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Finally, the omnichannel retail strategy helps create shorter supply chains, which significantly reduces the overall distance, costs, and emissions. Omnichannel is therefore the right step in the direction of sustainability and can bring lasting benefits to businesses, industries, and regions most sensitive to environmental impact.

Omnichannel is clearly a peek into the future of retail. As it evolves, an ecosystem of innovative solutions such as Distributed Order Management (DOM) will emerge. DOM systems are software solutions that orchestrate various processes and automate functions like order routing, splitting, shipping, forecasting, and inventory management. Solutions like these will reinforce the idea of omnichannel and drive the transformation of e-commerce further.