When something goes wrong with your product, a recall might be on the cards. There is a whole spectrum when it comes to product recalls. Sometimes they are relatively benign and easy to fix, or they can span to being very dangerous, expensive or both. Depending on what you’ve sold and what the problem is, it can drastically impact the severity of the repercussions. Product recalls affect the whole supply chain and the people who are responsible throughout the chain.
To paint a picture, let’s look back on the peanut butter recall in the United States in 2008-2009. There was a salmonella outbreak in a peanut factory in America. The peanut factory’s inventory stock was contaminated with salmonella and the company’s production chain sent it onwards. This was one of the deadliest and widespread outbreaks that led to 714 sick people and two deaths; people were impacted in 46 states. The peanut corporation had sold their peanuts to 361 companies — this led to 3,913 separate product recalls.
The peanut product recall is a great example of how one player in the supply chain affected everyone else. Let’s discuss a few tips to manage product recalls.
1. Choose suppliers carefully
When you are looking for suppliers, you need to make sure you cover your bases. Make sure that their health and safety standards are relevant and that they are actually followed. Tour their warehouses and do your research before and after. Check reviews for quality and ask if they have had any issues with their inventory stock.
Here are more tips on how you can pick your suppliers.
2. Track inventory stock
To ensure your product makes it through the supply chain, make sure your company is using an online inventory management system. One of the biggest benefits of an online system is traceability. This leads to an enormous amount of visibility throughout the supply chain when you can track inventory stock to certain points in the chain. This means you can react quickly if a recall happens and you can get in touch with supply chain managers easily.
An online inventory management system can be an influential tool in your business and can minimise cost in the event of a recall. You won’t spend as much time chasing up suppliers and finding the root cause. Rather, it will be easier to identify where the problem spurred from and what can be done.
3. Assign batch numbers
If you want to make identification even easier, use batch numbers to make finding the problem a simpler process. If products have batch numbers, it’s a swift way to identify which batches are causing the issue. If you can isolate the problem to one or two batches, you don’t have to recall everything that’s left your shelves in the last three months for example. This can save you a significant amount of money if you just remove the impacted batches rather than all of them. This can also help keep suppliers accountable. If you can isolate the batch, you can also isolate the root of the problem quicker.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.