Jewelry Inventory Management Software: Serialized vs. Non-Serialized

Jewelry that is unique and not high volume should probably be managed using the serialized method. (Above: Design By  Todd Reed )

Jewelry that is unique and not high volume should probably be managed using the serialized method. (Above: Design By Todd Reed)

To Serialize or Not to Serialize

If you manage inventory at a jewelry store, or a jewelry manufacturing/wholesale company, you have probably encountered this question before. Serialized and non-serialized inventory management are two core approaches to tracking jewelry inventory with software. Though both approaches can work, it is important to select the right approach for your particular case. Choosing the wrong approach can lead to difficulty later on in keeping proper counts and in intelligence analysis and reporting.

Serialization And What It Means

Serialization means, in short, that each individual instance of a jewelry item style is going to be tagged with a unique identifier. That unique serial number or SKU remains assigned to a given instance of an item in perpetuity. SKU stands for Stock keeping Unit which refers to a unique identifier for each distinct item in your inventory. Therefore, since every unit in your inventory is unique by this identifier, every SKU has a primary quantity of exactly one or zero.

In comparison, a non-serialized jewelry inventory is kept as a count of the number of units of a particular style. Each of the individual units of that style are not distinguished or differentiated from others of the same style. The number of units is simply noted as a bulk quantity value denoting the number of units of like items which you have.

Things to Consider When Choosing

The core advantage of managing jewelry inventory with serialization is improved business intelligence and reporting. Serialized inventories allow every individual jewelry item to maintain a complete and self contained history of information which does not need to be mixed and averaged with other items of the same style. This means that serialized inventories can track exact costs, ages, profit and more.

Non-Serialized inventories do not distinguish between instances of the same style. Therefore, they are characterized by a set style identifier and a quantity value which rises and falls over time as jewelry items enter inventory and leave it. Over time jewelry items entering inventory may carry different costs from those of the same style already in inventory. Or, if the traits of a particular style allow some small variations in weight, size, etc, then even items of the same style arriving into inventory at the same time may have varying costs. When this happens and items are bulked together under a single identifier with a quantity value, the individual attributes like cost must be averaged together. Like-wise, jewelry items entering non-serialized inventory management may loose their exact age values to averaging or FIFO calculated assumptions.

In the past, serialized jewelry inventories were difficult to manage because individualizing every instance of an item typicaly meant much more work. Computer systems from 20 years ago also could not keep up with the processing and storage requirements that could result from jewelry inventory databases easily approaching hundreds of thousands of rows due to uniquely tracking every instance of an item. For these reasons, many old jewelry inventory software systems only provide support for non-serialized inventory tracking.

Today, improvements in technology continue to reduce the extra work associated with keeping a serialized jewelry inventory. Well designed jewelry inventory softwares such as BusinessMind usually incorporate some kind of item rubber stamping feature which can help reduce data entry for thousands of serialized items by allowing the user to clone and edit an entry already in the system. Barcode scanning also permits operators to maintain high throughput when working with serialized jewelry items by preventing them from having to manually key multiple SKUs. RFID also offers some benefit in the same vein.

A Good Serialization Rule of Thumb

Deciding whether you should track your jewelry inventory in a serialized vs non-serialized fashion can be daunting. It's difficult to predict every situation that might arise. There is usually a fear of encountering an unanticipated situation in which serialization will require a lot of manual work to manage. Worse yet, once a method is implemented, it can be very difficult to switch.

A good rule of thumb for selecting serialization over non-serialization is as follows. Put two or three jewelry items of the same style on a table in front of you, if you turn your back and someone switches the positions of two of the items, will you be able to tell the difference when you turn back around? If the answer is yes, then you should strongly consider serialization if this is not a high volume product. If the answer is no, then you can safely choose either method.

The point of the rule above is that if individual instances of a given style are different enough that you can tell the difference between them, then they are not truly interchangeable. This encourages the idea that the preservation of the individual traits of each instance of the item style is important enough to warrant serialization.

Simplifying Jewelry Inventory Management With BusinessMind

BusinessMind supports both serialized and non-serialized jewelry inventory management. Furthermore, BusinessMind allows you to manage your jewelry inventory by either method on a style by style basis. This allows you fantastic flexibility and power. For example, you may have some styles which exhibit properties as described by the rule above. In BusinessMind you are encouraged to configure this style as a serialized style. This will allow the software to enforce serialization for all items of that style that are received into inventory. This will allow you to measure cost, profit, age, and other performance metrics with ultimate precision for such styles. On the other hand, your jewelry inventory may also contain high volume generic items, for example, a standard plain silver bangle bracelet. All instances of that style of item are identical and if they are also a high volume item, there may be no real benefit to serialization of that style. Configure the style in BusinessMind to allow non-serialized tracking and you can manage those items in a non-serialized way. BusinessMind does the right thing for all items during physical counts, reporting, invoicing, consignment, and more.

Email Us With Questions

Serialized jewelry inventory management can be a hot topic. If you are caught in the debate and need some help deciding what will work best for you, feel free to send us an email with your questions to info@dcit.com. We will be happy to discuss your process with you and help you make a good decision.

Raffi Minassian

Chief Codesmith, Technology Obsessor, and Founder of DCIT Corporation. I also teach Kung Fu, play guitar, snowboard, and enjoy good beer. (Not all at once.)