Knowing where your inventory is and how much you have in stock are driving factors for implementing NetSuite inventory management. But moving away from Excel sheets to a cloud-based system takes some thought and planning. To help, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions when setting up inventory in NetSuite:

1. Should I turn on bins in NetSuite?

While bins may not be necessary, in many circumstances they are vital for congruency and easy product picking in a warehouse. Bins provide better visibility to where inventory is stored in the facility, especially when the item is stored in more than one physical location. Bins also require specific warehouse processes to be followed, leading to inventory that is more accurate and faster to pick, as well as more accurate order fulfillment.

The best practice for new NetSuite implementations would be to turn on bins at the start. Before you get to that point, you need to know what your bin scheme is going to look like. The goal is to lead your employees on a logical path through the warehouse. Where is your fast-turning inventory is located? (Hint: It shouldn’t be at the back of the warehouse)

The logic of how bins will be numbered is also a very important decision that will impact the efficiency of warehouse operations. Factors that need to be considered include physical characteristics of items, order profiles, physical warehouse layout, environmental requirements, and the timing and velocity of work that needs to be performed.

Bin sorting logic is also set up using an alpha sort. If you are using 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.

If you are already live with NetSuite and are not using bins, the process of moving to bins is relatively easy with a tool like RF-SMART that works in both environments. However, all your items must be designated to use bin management, and you will want to make sure all locations have a zero balance before making the switch.

2. How should I name my items in NetSuite?

How you name items in NetSuite is going to have a lot to do with your business and industry type. No two businesses will set this up the same, and that is ok. When setting up items in NetSuite, it is important to consider the user experience. You want your inventory to be accurate and avoid errors. Does the item name make sense? Can a user distinguish between certain items that may be similar?

If you are planning to use a mobile solution, one consideration is to use the Display Name instead of the Sales Description. A Display Name has a limit of 60 characters, while the Sales Description has a maximum of 600 characters. Can you imagine scrolling through 600 characters on a mobile device? Talk about 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.

TIP: Use an Excel Upload
As you are setting up inventory in NetSuite, set up an Excel sheet with the Display Name and Descriptions. Before uploading to NetSuite, double-check the names in Excel before uploading to make sure everything the mobile user needs to see is visible. If you are generating barcodes, you will also want to make sure the fields you want to be displayed like the NetSuite UPC field, multi-UPCs for the inventory management system, and Item Name Number field are populated. All of this data will relate back to the Item Name Number field.

3. Should I set up my items as a lot-controlled or serialized inventory?

Using lots and serials is an inventory restriction in NetSuite, so you should have very specific reasons for using them. Setting up lots and serials will require more configuration and discipline to use correctly, as NetSuite will prompt for this information with every movement. This is important to factor in if you are considering a mobile solution, as your mobile users will be prompted to enter or scan the lot or serial number on the warehouse floor. Before heading down this path, determine if your business processes dictate the need for lots or serials.

Lot-Controlled Inventory

Lot-controlled inventory is mostly used in the manufacturing industry to track items or components for regulatory reasons. Common industries include 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. 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.

Serial Numbers

A serial number is a unique identifier, which means an item can only have one serial number and this number cannot be duplicated for that specific item. Use cases include needing to track items for warranty or as an anti-counterfeiting practice for high-end items. You can view all your serialized numbers for a specific item on the Inventory Detail tab.

(If you only want to track serial numbers once items leave your facility, RF-SMART supports Outbound Serial capture. This allows you to set up your items as standard inventory items and 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.)


About RF-SMART: RF-SMART is a global leader in mobile inventory solutions for Warehousing, Manufacturing, Retail & eCommerce. Leveraging barcodes and data collection technology, their Built for NetSuite product has helped over 800+ NetSuite customers automate their business processes and achieve 100% visibility into product location, movement, and related employee activity.  See How RF_SMART and NetSuite Work Together.

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