To serialize or not to serialize inventory?

Question

How do other people decide whether to serialize their inventory or not?

Answer

Usually people decide whether or not to serialize based on the products they're carrying in inventory.

  • Typically serialized: Granite, Marble slabs
  • Typically un-serialized: Sinks, laminate rolls, Corian sheets

Most of the time, the choice to serialize depends on

  1. The cost of the material - it's worth more effort to track expensive things
  2. The uniqueness - when each slab is unique, it's very useful to identify them

Expensive, unique items are obvious choices to serialize because there's a high payoff. Uniquely identifying each piece of your inventory takes work - there's extra effort involved in receiving inventory, labeling each piece, making sure that pieces are allocated correctly to jobs, and that each person who is involved in touching inventory is accurate and reliable.

For low-cost items, the extra effort of serializing might not pay off - the benefit of tracking each bottle of glue individually needs to be balanced with the increased time spent.

For inventory items that aren't as clear cut (Silestone, for example is expensive but uniform), a good rule of thumb is to use the same strategy as you do with most of your other products - having a single way to deal with inventory means that you don't have to train your employees different ways for different products.

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