Shelf Life Management Methods

by Andrew Hoeft | Jan 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM

For grocery stores shelf life management is a time consuming and tedious process. As a manager you are responsible for finding a sustainable, cost-efficient solution. As a former grocery store employee, I understand your pain. Here are some of the ways you can make it through the process without pulling out your hair.

Get a drone

I used to be a drone. My job was to rotate product every couple of weeks. Every time I finished the process I’d start all over again.

One benefit to ‘the drone’ approach is that there is very little training involved. It is a simple job that anyone can do. Unfortunately it’s not very efficient and there’s a lot of room for human error (not that I personally made any errors, but you know, other people).

In the business world, Excel is used for just about everything. You can use Excel to manage your books and manage shelf life.

To get started, create an Excel spreadsheet that contains the necessary product information so your employees can find items easily. I recommend including product description, product size, and location columns. Then enter expiration date information for each product. This can be done by having an employee simply enter that information when they put the product on the shelf.

Once this information is collected, your employee will no longer rotate products while stocking or rotate by section, but rather by item.

While this is a step up from the drone approach it is also a headache to manage over time. You have to train someone how to use Excel for something Excel was not made to do. If you are the manager, you will probably be the one that is responsible for this task. In addition, the adoption time for this method can take months if not longer.

Use software that was created to watch expiration dates for you. This one is the ideal solution for stores that cannot afford to waste resources on paying an employee full time to rotate product. This is the most efficient solution because technology bridges the gap between manual labor and shelf life management. In addition, this software is customizable, allows for data tracking, and can be implemented quickly and easily.

These are the main solutions I found when talking to managers at grocery stores about shelf life management. What are some other ways you deal with managing shelf life? Comment below.

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