Providing patients with a curated selection of supplements can increase regimen compliance and introduce a new revenue stream to your practice. However, handling inventory is easily the most time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive aspect of providing this amenity.
Here are a few best practices that can help you avoid common challenges when it comes to managing supplement inventory:
The Risk of Mismanaged Supplement Inventory
While nutritional supplements are a great resource to help improve patient outcomes, mismanaged inventory can cause the opposite effect. Some of the most common mistakes include giving a patient the wrong product, storing product incorrectly, or selling expired product. Any of these issues create risk for your patient as well as your practice, including:
- Decreased Patient Outcomes: Expired supplements may lose their potency and efficacy. If patients consume expired supplements that have degraded in quality, they may not receive the intended health benefits, and there can be adverse health effects.
- Reputation Damage: Customers trust healthcare providers to provide safe and effective products. If they discover that you are selling expired or damaged supplements, it may erode their trust in your practice, leading to a loss of patients and diminished reputation.
- Product Waste: Holding onto expired supplements can result in financial losses for your practice. As supplements approach their expiration date, their market value diminishes. If you’re unable to sell them before they expire, you may need to dispose of them, incurring additional costs.
Implementing an effective method for managing products is crucial in the supplement industry. Strategies for managing expiring products include conducting regular audits of expiration dates, establishing alerts for low inventory and upcoming expirations, and providing discounts on inventory overstock. By implementing these strategies, your team can ensure product efficacy and safety while minimizing waste.
Understanding the Shelf Life of Supplements
The shelf life of supplements is generally two to three years, though this can vary depending on the product. Expiration labels are not always uniform between varying brands creating more difficulty with proper management. Understanding shelf life is vital to creating a safe and effective supplement program.
If you’re selling supplements online, inventory management still matters! However, often the amount of work it takes to maintain inventory decreases with access to digital tools. A robust management platform can simplify the sales and reorder process, and provides the ability to monitor inventory in one centralized location. If maintaining your own stock, managing expired products is still a challenge that may not be fully automated.
Storage Conditions and Expiration Dates
Maintaining recommended storage conditions and observing expiration dates are key to ensuring product efficacy and safety. Temperature, humidity, and light can all have an impact on the shelf life of supplements. To maximize shelf life, we recommend storing your supplements in a cool, dry, and dark space. If you want to keep products out for patients to see, consider designating a specific ‘display-only’ bottle that will not be sold.
Strategies for Managing Expiring Products
Monitoring inventory levels, analyzing utilization patterns, and adjusting buying policies are strategies that can be employed to properly manage your supplement supply. The FIFO (First-In, First-Out) and FEFO (First-Expired, First-Out) principles are two inventory management techniques that prioritize the oldest items in stock. Making sure your staff is consistently applying these principles will ensure your supplement inventory is fresh!
Demand Forecasting and Planning
Forecasting the needs of your patient base will help ensure your supplement stock levels remain optimal, and that overstock or understock situations are avoided. By analyzing demand patterns and staying abreast of supplier product trends, your practice can maintain the right amount of inventory to meet patient needs without incurring excessive carrying costs.
Reorder Points and Safety Stock
A reorder point is a predetermined inventory level that when reached, indicates that a particular supplement must be replenished. It’s important to take care in deciding these reorder points. Rather than choosing one number for all products, consider factors that go into inventory management for each product separately. Calculating the proper reorder point may include variables such as daily/weekly unit sales, lead time between inventory order and arrival, and how much extra ‘safety stock’ your practice will keep on hand.
Understanding order processing and shipping time for each brand you stock will be important since these vary widely between manufacturers.
How Online Shopping Impacts Supplement Sales
There is a remarkable difference in sales when patients have access to purchase and restock their supplements online. Once patients become accustomed to this effortless purchasing method, they’re more likely to remain loyal to you and follow through with purchasing what you recommend even if they relocate.
Creating a safe and convenient solution for your patients builds on your trusted relationship as a provider.
As a busy health care provider, you’ll have options to meet specific patient needs when products you recommend become unavailable. Having an online dispensary also makes it easy to try out a new brand or product without investing time and money setting up a new manufacturer account or ordering cases of products before you know they will meet your patient needs.
Online dispensaries like Doctors Supplement Store offer a seamless solution that capitalizes on this shift in patient behavior. By embracing an online approach, you and your patients unlock a world of benefits. Our digital inventory management can help your practice offer a wide variety of professional-grade supplements, simplify the patient ordering experience, and scale your supplement program with minimal oversight.
4 Key Benefits of Outsourcing Your Supplement Program
#1 – Focus on Core Business Activities: Companies of all sizes recognize the value of focusing on their core competencies. By letting us handle supplement inventory, patient orders, and customer service, you can concentrate on patient care. The products you recommend are shipped directly to your patients, enhancing your reach and increasing patient adherence as well as sales.
#2 – Sales Go Up, Hassles Go Down: Running an in-house dispensary can be more costly than some realize. Costs related to expired products, stock outages, staffing, shipping, credit card fees, and more can eat into your profits. We take these back-office duties off your plate, creating a more efficient, streamlined supplement program.
#3 – Augment In-Office Sales: Streamline costs and increase efficiency by stocking only frequently sold products in your office and utilizing an online dispensary for everything else. We make it easy for your practice to launch its digital storefront, designed to help patients easily begin and maintain a supplement program by ordering their supplements online. And offering quality and convenience leads to higher sales and adherence. With 24/7 access from anywhere in the world, patients are more likely to order and reorder their supplements from you!
#4 – Flexibility and Maintenance: Even if you manage some inventory on-site, an online dispensary allows you to offer lower volume products and avoid distribution challenges. Virtual inventory enables you to continue serving out-of-town patients, and encourages refills with convenient auto ship options. Plus, you’ll gain access to our extensive network of brands and partners, which allows you to explore new products without bulk purchase requirements.