Product recalls are commonplace and are to be expected in many mass-inventory industries such as in the automotive, pharmaceutical and food industries. The risks and consequences involved in navigating the recall process can be unnerving. A product safety issue usually triggers a recall, so there are significant financial, legal and reputation risks involved. The cost of a complex product recall process can easily reach the tens of millions of dollars. Prompt and informed action is needed if a company is to mitigate the risks and weather the storm. Consumers are concerned that companies that do not initiate timely product recalls are more interested in profit than safety. Inventory management software is a must-have to ensure timely action.
Get ahead of the issue
Because the risks are high, expectations are also high at the start of a product recall. Companies are expected to almost instantly understand which products are affected, what risks consumers face and the actions to be taken. Even coming close to meeting these expectations is not possible without immediate access to inventory information.
A comprehensive inventory management system will allow you to immediately identify which products are affected. A user can view a report that, for example, filters inventory based on expiry dates. Multiple pieces of data can be used to define the scope of the problem and identify which products need to be recalled. This could include production dates, batch numbers or any other identifying detail. Storing all of this information in a database for ready recall enables quick action to be taken. In contrast, looking through multiple sources of information, including spreadsheets and manually generated paperwork could cost your business and expose more of your customers to harm.
Respond more decisively
Having a fit-for-purpose inventory system means being able to both scope a product recall quickly and have the capability to carry that recall out. Notifying downstream stakeholders is a crucial early step once the decision has been made to recall. Some systems may integrate down the supply chain, enabling upstream suppliers to send alerts right down to the point of sale. In any case, your inventory management software should help you quickly generate sales reports, which enable you to contact every immediate purchaser of your products (and to liaise with them to continue notification down the supply chain). Without a centralised database organizing inventory, the recall process would take much longer to gain traction.
Reduce the product recall impact and get back to business as usual
Amongst all of the stress and risks of a product recall, a key priority should be to keep sight of everyday business and to minimize the disruption. As the recall begins in earnest, there will likely be mountains of stock and paperwork to process – all of the difficulty of a stock count with almost none of the proper preparation. Having proper processing tools, including intuitive software and tools like barcode scanners and RFID tagging, can ease the burden on your staff and systems.
Prevent product safety issues
Inventory management software can often prevent product recalls from occurring. In the case of products with expiry dates, it is essential to prevent those products from leaving their retailer. An inventory database can record expiry dates, alerting manufacturers and retailers to spoilage issues.
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.