Like most e-commerce business owners, you’re always looking for ways to optimize your inventory and increase sales.
Did you know that reading and understanding lot numbers can help you do that? Lot numbers are unique identifiers assigned to each product by the manufacturer. By understanding what the different parts of a lot number mean, you can decide better what products to stock and how much inventory to order.
This post will explain how to read a lot number and what each part of the sequence means.
Let’s dive in.
What is a Lot number?
A lot number is a sequence of numbers and/or letters assigned to a product by the manufacturer. The purpose of a lot number is to identify a specific batch of products that were all manufactured under the same conditions. This information can be important when troubleshooting quality issues or conducting a recall.
How to Read a Lot Number
Most lot numbers are printed on the product packaging and typically follow a standard format for the manufacturer. Unfortunately, there is no consensus or standard method between manufacturers identifying or labeling expiration dates by lot number.
For example, let’s say your lot number looks like this:
In this sequence, the first three characters (ABC) represent the manufacturer code. The following four characters (0822) represent the production date (August 2022). The last four characters (5678) represent the batch number.
Not all lot numbers will follow this exact format, but most will include some combination of the manufacturer code, production date, and batch number. Now that you know how to read a lot numbers, let’s take a closer look at each part of the sequence.
What is a Manufacturer Code?
The manufacturer code is a set of three characters that represent the company that manufactured the product. In our example, ABC is the manufacturer code. This sequence is typically assigned by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
If you’re having trouble finding the manufacturer code on a product, you can try looking up the company in the ISO database. Once you find the company’s ISO code, you can use that to identify the manufacturer code on the product.
What is the Production Date?
The production date is a four-digit sequence representing when the product was manufactured. In our example, 0822 is the production date. This information is typically expressed in month-year or year-month-day format. So, in our example, the production date would be August 2022. If your inventory includes food, the expiration date typically contains the day and the month of expiration.
The production date can be important for two reasons. First, if you’re troubleshooting a quality issue, it can help you identify when the problem started. Second, it can help you track your inventory and ensure you’re not selling expired products.
What is a Batch Number?
The batch number is a four-digit sequence representing the specific batch of products manufactured together. In our example, 5678 is the batch number. This information can be vital if you need to conduct a recall. Knowing which specific batch of products is affected allows you to minimize the number of products that need to be recalled.
The batch number can also be important for troubleshooting quality issues. If you receive many products with the same quality issue, you can use the batch number to narrow down the problem and find a solution more quickly.
Now that you know how to read a lot number, you can use this information to optimize your inventory and avoid quality issues. By understanding each part of the sequence, you can make better decisions about what products you plan to stock and how much inventory to order.
What is Lot Tracking?
Lot tracking is keeping track of products from when they’re manufactured until they’re sold. This information is typically tracked using lot numbers.
By tracking this information, you can ensure that you’re selling fresh products and avoid quality issues.
There are a few different ways to track lot numbers.
The most common method is to print the lot number on the product packaging.
Another common method is to use barcodes. Barcodes are a machine-readable representation of data. They can be scanned to quickly and accurately track products. Many manufacturers use barcodes to track their products through the manufacturing process.
You can also use software like SkuVault to track lot numbers. This can be a good option if you need to track many products or if you need to track products that don’t have lot numbers printed on them.
What are the Benefits of Tracking Lot Numbers?
There are several benefits of tracking lot numbers, including:
- Avoiding quality issues: Knowing a product’s production date and batch number allows you to quickly identify and address quality issues. This can help you avoid selling expired or defective products.
- Optimizing inventory: By tracking the production date of products, you can ensure that you’re selling fresh products, moving inventory before it expires, and avoid stocking expired products. This can help you optimize your inventory and save money.
- Conducting recalls: If a product is defective or recalled, you can use the lot number to quickly identify which products are affected. This can help you minimize the number of products that need to be recalled.
- Spotting counterfeit products: Understanding lot management can help prevent counterfeit items from entering your inventory. Suppose counterfeits are a common occurrence in your inventory. In that case, lot tracking can help you to quickly identify where the fakes are polluting your supply chain and allow you to promptly take action.
By tracking your lot numbers, your business can avoid quality issues, optimize your inventory, prevent accidentally selling counterfeit merchandise to your customers, and conduct recalls more efficiently. This information can also be helpful for troubleshooting quality issues.
Who Uses Lot Number Tracking?
Lot number tracking is used by manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Manufacturers use lot numbers to track products through the manufacturing process and ensure quality control.
Retailers use lot numbers to track inventory and ensure that they sell fresh products. And consumers can use lot numbers to avoid expired or defective products.
How can I Check the Expiration Date of Lot Numbers?
There are a few different ways to check the expiration date of lot numbers. Many manufacturers print the expiration date on the product packaging. Suppose you know the manufacturer’s lot number formula (year, month, manufacturing location, etc.). In that case, this can be reasonably simple if you’re checking the expiration date for a single lot – although it gets a bit more unwieldy if you’re trying to stay on top of multiple lots in your inventory.
Another way to check the expiration date of the lot number is to use a barcode scanner to scan the barcode on the product. This will typically give you the product’s production date and batch number.
You can also use software to track lot numbers. This can be a good option if you need to track many products or if you need to track products that don’t have lot numbers printed on them.
By checking the expiration date of lot numbers, you can ensure that you’re selling fresh products and avoid quality issues.
How Do You Read a Lot Number After it Expires?
You’ll want to keep a tight watch on your inventory to ensure it has not expired. You can typically check the production date and batch number of the product by reading the lot number:
- Using a Warehouse Management Software (WMS) like SkuVault
- Reading the lot number on the outside packaging
- Verifying the lot number information using your manufacturer or supplier records
Lot number tracking is a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes.
Understanding what a lot number is and how to read it can ensure that you and your customers are getting the best quality products possible.
Lot number tracking is essential to quality control and inventory management for many businesses.
By understanding what a lot number is and how to read it, you can ensure that you get the best product possible, avoid selling expired products to your customers, and keep your inventory fresh.
Fortunately, reading lot numbers is relatively simple once you understand your manufacturer or supplier’s formula. In addition, lot control can be made significantly more accessible thanks to online tools, including SkuVault’s warehouse management software. With just a few clicks, you can have all the information you need about your lot numbers.