NetSuite Serialized Inventory Part 1: What is Serialization?

There are many ways to manage, track, and control inventory. Now more then ever, having full visibility of your inventory is vital. Identifying inventory can include techniques like bin management with barcodes, license plating, and serialization. Why is serialization important?  

netsuite serialized inventry (2)

This blog is a two-part series about serialized inventory in NetSuite. Make sure you're subscribed to the blog to receive updates on Part 2.

When you think about it, we use this type of identification in our everyday lives. As a consumer, we have all interacted with serial numbers. Serial numbers appear on our laptops, cell phones, jewelry, cars, fridges, ovens, and even on our money. The very first question you get when you are trying to get something repaired is “What is the serial number?” So, what is a serial number? And why is it so commonly used in inventory management?

What is Serialized Inventory?

What does serialized inventory mean?

Serialized inventory is the tracking of individual units using unique serial numbers. Serial numbers are different from SKU numbers. SKU numbers identify a type of product while serial numbers identify one specific item or a part of an item.

What is a serial number?

Serialization is the assignment of a unique serial number to each unit, which is linked to information about the product's origin, batch number, and expiration date. One common example would be a tech item, such as a cell phone. The serial number on the cell phone would hold information about the parts and manufacturer.

What products are serialized?

A serialized item is a physical occurrence of a standard item that is given a unique lifetime serial number. This enables you to track the individual item throughout its lifetime - through the design, production, testing, distribution, and maintenance phases.

What is serialization in a warehouse?

In warehousing, you can use serial numbers to track serialized items through receipts, transfers, storage or issues. For products that are not high-value or regulated, you may still decide to use serialization to make some processes easier. Serialization makes tracking individual purchases for warranty claims and manufacturer recalls easy since the serial numbers specify which products may be defective.

Serialization in Action

Here are some specific examples of why using serial numbers is important. Let’s look at where we see serialization most - the retail sector. Here's why serialization is important for retail companies:

  • Theft Protection - If a laptop is stolen from a retail store, office, or home, the serial number helps track its origin. When the stolen laptop is received, sold, or moved, the serial number is scanned. This can help return the stolen item to a manufacturer or owner.
  • Product Life Cycle - We all know that technology is always updating. Serial numbers help give an understanding of the life that product has lived, including when the product was manufactured, where it was sold, if it was maintained, and what operating system it has.
  • Quality Control - When we look at ensuring the quality of a product, making sure it works and keeping it safe is all tracked from a serial number.
  • Warranty - The key components of that aforementioned laptop only last so long and there is usually a warranty attached to them. Serial numbers help track each of the individual components so that an item can be serviced under warranty.

NetSuite, WMS, and Serialized Inventory

NetSuite is an ERP solution that can help you manage your complete business needs, including your serialized inventory through real-time inventory visibility.  There are many ways of tracking products and product information within NetSuite. Serialized inventory item records in NetSuite are used to track information about items that you have stocked. Serial numbers allow for a deeper knowledge of product, allowing you to continue to track it once it leaves your warehouse.

A NetSuite WMS gives you the ability to really understand how serialized product moves within your organization. Over the last year, the ability to track inventory with this level of detail has become vital due to supply chain shortages, as well as labor issues on the manufacturing side. Serial numbers help the world track the safety and lifecycle of all products we see and use.

At RF-SMART, we have key ways of tracking serial numbers through our mobile warehouse solution for NetSuite Inventory Management, which is extremely important for any organization as they move forward in an ever-changing and challenging environment. Ready to learn how we can help you track your serialized items?

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About the Author: Ruth Rosenstock joined the RF-SMART team as a Partner Engagement Executive in 2020. Her previous experience includes working with both Oracle and NetSuite. Ruth has assisted more than 500 customers on their NetSuite journey.