NetSuite Inventory Control Advice: Setting up Inventory
August 21, 2019
Casey Rebman Walker
With an ever-growing customer base, we’ve heard a lot of advice on what our customers did (or wish they did) when it comes to setting up inventory in NetSuite. Moving away from excel sheets to the Cloud takes some serious thought and planning. And this is even more true if you're looking to replace your paper-based processes with a mobile scanning solution along the way. To help, we compiled some lessons learned from RF-SMART and NetSuite ERP implementations.
Lesson Learned: Item Naming - Use the Display Name instead of Sales Description
When setting up items in NetSuite, it is important to consider the user experience. A Display Name has a limit of 60 characters, while the Sales Description has a maximum of 600 characters. If you're planning to implement mobile scanners, scrolling through 600 characters on a device is a frustrating user experience! If you still want to use the Sales Description, copy the first 60 characters from the Sales Description into the Display Name.
When preparing a CSV upload of your item information, make sure the Display Name and Description are populated. Double check that everything the mobile user needs to see is visible and meets the character limits for each field. This includes fields you want displayed for barcodes like the NetSuite UPC field, multi-UPCs for RF-SMART, and Item Name Number. All of this data will relate back to the Item Name Number field.
Lesson Learned: Do you really need lots and/or serials?
Using lots and serials is an inventory restriction in NetSuite, meaning your mobile users will be prompted to enter or scan the lot or serial number with every movement in the warehouse. While this is ideal for some, make sure you clearly identify your business use case before committing, as it will require more configuration and discipline to use correctly.
Serials: Typically, serials are used to track high-priced inventory, or items for warranty. However, if you only want to track serial numbers once an item leaves your facility, RF-SMART's NetSuite Inventory Management can support the capture of Outbound Serial Numbers. In that case, you will setup your items as Standard Inventory Items, not a serialized item. Once you flag “Collect Outbound Serial Number,” users will capture the outbound serial number during the picking process. The serial number is recorded in NetSuite, alleviating the need to scan serial numbers with every movement.
Lots: Lot controlled inventory is mostly used in the manufacturing of finished goods and industries like Food and Beverage, Health and Beauty, Medical and some Consumer Products. If your items are consumed or used on the body, you probably need lots. When setting up lots, make sure to set up your Base Unit as the lowest unit of measure you have for that item. NetSuite allows you to narrow down recalls or defective products by lot number(s) for a more targeted approach instead of a mass item recall.
Bottom Line: if you don’t need traceability once it leaves your facility, you probably don’t need lots or serials turned on.
Lesson Learned: Prepare for Counting
A very important area of mobile inventory management is counting. Take the time to define what types of counts you want to perform, which sections of the warehouse, how often, and your plan for reconciling counts. For example, RF-SMART gives you the ability to perform real-time counting when other employees are picking, perform line item approval, and even create new counts from existing counts. Having a plan in place before implementation will make sure you are set up and ready to count when it is time.
Regarding the set up, make sure all items have a “next count date” and “count interval” fields populated before you start to use stock counts. These fields must have values in order to pull the item into the count sheet as Expected.For a first-time NetSuite customer, you can prepare for a count by populating an Excel file and uploading to NetSuite.
Lesson Learned: Turn on Bins at the Beginning of Your NetSuite Implementation
Bins provide better visibility to where inventory is stored, especially when items are stored in more than one location. While not always necessary, bins require you to follow specific warehouse processes, which helps to ensure your inventory is more accurate and faster to pick.
The first step is to identify what your bin scheme is going to look like. The goal is to lead your employees on a logical path through the warehouse. For example, your fast-turning inventory shouldn’t be located at the back of your warehouse. Next identify your bin sorting logic and set up your bins. It's important to note that bins use an alphanumeric sorting, so if you decide to use numbers to designate bins, you must use preceding zeros. For example: if bins will start at 1 and go to 20, then you must use 01, 02... 20 to number the bins.
What if I'm already live on NetSuite and not using bins? The good news is the process of moving to bins is relatively easy with RF-SMART. First, consult with your Business Analyst or Account Representative before making the switch. Second, make sure all your items are designated to use bin management and all locations have a zero balance.