How to Manage Your Custom Label Inventory

custom label inventory

Designing and printing a custom label takes time. It’s not an easy feat to find the perfect match that fits your product’s container perfectly and can showcase it to its true value. Dozens of tiny decisions have led to your label’s final form: digital or flexo printing, what kind of material, what about the varnishes, are the colors just right?

Naturally, after this hurdle, you want to make sure that you don’t run out of labels just when your product starts to gain popularity. But here’s the thing: it’s not always easy to estimate how many custom labels you will need.

So, how can you be sure that you won’t run out of labels? The first answer that springs to mind is to print a lot of them. But that’s not really budget-friendly, is it?

There are options to ensure a steady flow of labels without causing a major budget hole.

The Global Supply Chain Issues Affect the Label Industry

I’m sure you already know that the current supply chain issues affect pretty much every industry out there. Ours is no exception. You can read more about how supply chain issues affect the label industry here

What does this mean for your custom label inventory?

We advise you to start with the premise that nothing is certain. At Labeltronix, we make great efforts to anticipate what will be in short supply and when. We’re in constant contact with our suppliers—some of which have 6+ month waiting lists for some materials, including paper, inks, glue, varnishes, and more.

If you plan to create a new custom label design for your products (especially one that includes special materials), talk to our experts. We can advise you on what to expect in the short and medium run, so you don’t invest too much in a design that is not doable right now.

However, you don’t need to let these issues scare you off. We have enough experience in this field to know that a lot of materials can be substituted and that printing techniques can be adapted to what’s available most of the time.

The wisest thing you can do right now is avoid assuming anything before you talk to someone in the industry. Only a seasoned label-making company can tell you what to expect for the near future.

Plan Ahead and Keep an Eye on Your Inventory

You may not know how many labels you are going to need through the end of the year. But you can make some approximations.

Start with these questions:

  • How many labels do we expect to need in the following six months?
  • How early do we need to order the labels? take into account the batch size and the printing techniques—some take longer to produce than others. Also, remember that most label-makers have a large backlog of orders, so it might take longer than usual to get to yours.
  • Can we properly store the labels we order in advance? 
  • How likely is it that our label's design will change this year? The answer to this question will let you know if you should order in advance or not. It’s important to avoid the risk of ordering too many labels that end up being thrown away.
  • Do we have a label inventory management system? Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or a more advanced ERP system, we strongly recommend you keep a detailed inventory of your custom labels. Add details like: size, print duration, expected sales for each product, and more. 

It may sound a bit tricky to plan and implement an inventory management system. As always, though, planning is the toughest part. As soon as you’ve got that covered, you will be in a much better position to anticipate your needs and to avoid having products ready to ship but no labels to accompany them.

One more thing to consider here: despite the initial investment, it might be tempting to order a large batch of labels so you can be sure that the supply chain issues won’t catch up with you.

If cash flow is not a problem, this is a smart thing to do under two conditions. Firstly, you need to make sure that you can properly store all your labels or set up supplier managed inventory. Secondly, if you are in an industry that’s sensitive to regulation changes (like beverages or cannabis products), try to limit your orders. It’s hard to predict when the federal or state laws will change and you will need to add new information to your labels.

Lean Labeling to the Rescue

We know that these estimations are hard to nail. This is why we have implemented a lean labeling methodology. Briefly put, this methodology ensures that you get enough timeline and budget flexibility without sacrificing quality and design, no matter how many different SKUs you need to print in a relatively short time frame.

Moreover, smaller runs are in our repertoire as well. We work with companies in industries that often have a large variety of products and frequent launches (like craft beers, wine and spirit makers, or cannabis products). 

With some planning ahead, you can manage your label inventory and keep your production running smoothly. 

Need to know more about how to manage your custom label inventory in the current global context? Schedule your free consultation!

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