What happens when your brand’s popular gummy multivitamin sits on an unrefrigerated truck in the middle of Texas during a July heat wave? Nothing good.
Meltable inventory includes products like chocolate, gummies, candles, and some beauty items that can’t withstand the heat and need special considerations for storage and shipping. This blog will walk through some of the key considerations brands need to keep in mind—whether they use Fulfillment by Amazon or fulfill themselves, either in-house or with a fulfillment solutions partner.
What Is Meltable Inventory?
Meltable inventory is heat-sensitive inventory that cannot withstand warmer temperatures. These warmer temperatures can occur during storage (in a non-temperature-controlled warehouse or fulfillment center) or during transportation (in a non-refrigerated truck). While certain food and beverage supply chain products like ice cream and chocolate come to mind, beauty supply chain products and candles with oils can also qualify.
While meltable inventory is a huge concern during the warmer, summer months, many areas of the country are warm year-round. Even if an online seller produces and stores most of its inventory in northern Minnesota, delivering to a customer in Southern California is a reality modern ecommerce brands need to be prepared for.
Amazon defines a meltable item or product as one that can not withstand a minimum temperature of 50⁰ F or a maximum temperature of 155⁰ F throughout the product’s entire or remaining shelf life.
Amazon is one of the largest ecommerce marketplaces, and its popular Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service allows brands to fulfill orders directly from Amazon warehouses. It’s important to note that one of Amazon’s myriad guidelines includes seasonal restrictions on meltable inventory. As of May 2022, Amazon will not store or fulfill meltable products for a full half of the year, from April 15 to October 15. What’s more, any meltable inventory existing in Amazon warehouses after April 15 needs to be removed, or fees will be imposed.
How to Manage Meltable Inventory
The first step is to determine which products qualify as meltable inventory and what the melting points of those products are. Brands can ask their suppliers or can run experiments themselves to determine the melting points of raw materials and specific products. For example, cocoa solids (in chocolate and some personal care products) melt at about 80 degrees F.
Next, a brand needs to determine if they will sell meltable products year-round or follow Amazon FBA and only sell meltable products during the cooler months. Another option is to limit the delivery to locations near where the meltable item is sold or to locations where it’s cooler year-round.
The following are additional tips and tricks for storing and selling meltable inventory so brands can continue offering customers the products they want.
Create an effective and efficient replenishment cycle
The best way to manage meltable inventory is to create an effective and efficient replenishment cycle that includes inventory forecasting, inventory tracking, and reordering.
Brands need to have an accurate idea of how much inventory they need to get through the key selling period for meltable inventory without being caught at the end of the season with a bunch of inventory sitting in the warehouse.
A quality inventory management system helps brands forecast inventory needs. The Flowspace platform provides real-time insights and forecasting recommendations to help brands make smarter inventory management and allocation decisions.
Determining the reorder point, the stock level at which meltable inventory needs to be replenished, is an important step in managing meltable inventory. Calculating reorder point is also helpful in understanding safety inventory, reorder point methods, and handling excess inventory.
Brands can calculate reorder points with this simple reorder point formula: Lead Time Demand + Safety Stock = Reorder Point.
Store and pack meltable inventory
It’s not only during shipping that brands need to worry about meltable inventory. Products also need to be stored in warehouses that can keep them at the appropriate temperature. The Flowspace Fulfillment Network has a cadre of certified warehouses that specialize in fulfilling refrigerated and frozen goods.
If brands want to continue to sell meltable inventory through the summer months, investing in gel ice packs, bigger cartons, and other packaging materials can ensure more protection from the hot weather for sensitive products.
For example, just packing a product in a container that’s larger than the product and using insulation can provide a barrier from the heat and reduce melting. Or go one step further and add gel ice packs.
Increase sales of meltable inventory before the hot months
If a brand decides it doesn’t want to continue to sell meltable inventory during the summer months, or is using FBA and restricted from doing so, increasing sales of meltable products through specials and promotions can help brands sell existing stock before the hot weather hits.
Because many meltable products are also perishable, brands need to think about expiration dates as well, and many of the same strategies apply in terms of selling through existing stock. As a fulfillment logistics partner, Flowspace supports First-Expired-First-Out (FEFO), a picking logic that ensures that the oldest items or those with the earliest expiration dates are picked first.
An inventory tracking tool can help brands determine how much stock needs to be sold before the summer and keep track of expiration dates. Flowspace offers an industry-leading solution that helps brands determine how quickly products are selling, how many days until a product runs out, how to manage obsolete inventory, and how current demand compares to a previous time frame.
Learn more about how to take control of your meltable inventory with Flowspace. Get in touch today.