Organizing Short Shelf Life Products Better

The Problem

If you’re selling short shelf life products that expire quickly and you’re worried about how much you’re throwing away, you may want to implement some of these tips to track and ship your inventory more accurately. Minimize your inventory write-downs from expiring products by creating a better inventory management system.

If you have an Ecwid by Lightspeed or BigCommerce store, and you’re looking to improve your store’s inventory management, the following tips may help inspire you to make some effective updates to your store’s systems.

Receiving Short Shelf Life Products

The first priority for organizing short shelf life products should be to always appropriately rotate stock. You should organize products to encourage picking old stock first. A few rotation examples would include:

  • Loading from the back of a shelf, pushing the oldest product forward to the most likely picking area
  • For shelves or refrigerators that don’t have an accessible back side, face old products in front of newer ones
  • When it comes to stacked products, remove existing inventory from the product area first. Then, move new product into the product area, and stack the oldest products on top of the newest products

Make picking products as easy as possible. The first products pickers should be faced with are the most likely to expire the earliest. All unpacking strategies should facilitate easy picking.

Short Shelf Life Products Cycle Count Frequency

While you may have a cycle count strategy set up to keep inventory counts accurate with your online store, short shelf life products may need more frequent counts, and different considerations when a cycle count is being done. Without more frequent checks, pickers will have to take more time picking. Pickers would need to take time checking the expiration date of each item picked. Manually checking is still error-prone, and customers will still receive nearly expired products.

Doing more frequent cycle counts should effectively remove nearly expired products, preventing their sale to customers. That should also mean that workers don’t need to check expiry dates when picking as well.
When implementing a strategy for cycle counting these products, consider an earlier date than the “best by” or expiration date listed on the product. Products with expiration dates that are too near to the date a cycle count is being done are at risk of expiring before a customer can fully use them. Some of these risks include:

  • Some products may expire before the next cycle count
  • Products may expire before they arrive with a customer’s order
  • It might not be realistic for a product to be fully consumed before it expires

Strategies for Short Shelf Life Products

During cycle counts, you’ll find products that are getting close to expiring. When products are too close to their expiration, you’ll want to sell them quickly. It would be best to move these products in a way that is advantageous to your company. Here are a few ideas you can use.


The most obvious way to move more of a product is to offer discounts for your nearly expired products. In both Ecwid by Lightspeed and BigCommerce, consider discount coupons. For physical stores, you might also put up signs or add in a discount bin.

A less obvious way of discounting products could be to promote matching products together. Bundle your nearly expired products with another, matching product. This strategy helps by selling additional products at full price, while moving the expiring products. Bundling items has its own benefits as well, encouraging customers to try products they may have never considered purchasing before.

Creating Urgency

There are many tools to create urgency for products in your ecommerce store. Try putting a product into a “featured” list to get it in front of more people. You can do this by featuring the product on the front page of your store, or through emails to customers.

Focus on the limited availability of a deal when doing discount messaging. Mentioning that only a certain number of items will be available at the discounted price should increase the sense of urgency for customers.


You might find that some products may lend themselves to being liquidated or sent to consignment. You won’t make as much money from liquidating, but it might be worthwhile to minimize losses.

Donating to Charity

Some products may make sense to donate to charity. While this is an option that wouldn’t be profitable, donations to charity often come with tax benefits, and almost certainly come with goodwill from your community. When doing a large donation, you can check to see if the charity would be willing to do some promotion highlighting your company’s donation.

Software for Short Shelf Life Products

If your store is on Ecwid by Lightspeed or BigCommerce, the Barcode Inventory Management app can help you manage short shelf life products. For both cycle counts and for strategies for managing bundled product inventory, the Barcode Inventory Management app has tools that can help.

If you’ve created a bundled product and are running into issues with needing to reduce the inventory count of multiple products at the same time, the Barcode Inventory Management’s live updates tool (Ecwid, BigCommerce) can help you reduce inventory when products are being picked. Ecommerce platforms don’t readily know that a bundled product is made up of multiple, other products. Use the live inventory tool to check inventory availability and reduce inventory of appropriate product SKUs, right as you pick them.

For cycle counts, the Barcode Inventory Management app has batch inventory modification tools to both update (Ecwid, BigCommerce) and reduce (Ecwid, BigCommerce) product inventories. Use the inventory reduction tool to help perform cycle counts and remove nearly expired inventory. When removing inventory for liquidation or donations to charity, use the inventory reduction tool’s open notes section and fill in any relevant information for accounting or tax purposes.

These are just some of the possible applications of the Barcode Inventory Management app. If you’re interested in reading more, check out our blog here, or try out the apps today. Both the Ecwid by Lightspeed and BigCommerce versions of the app come with a 1 week free trial, so you can test them out, hassle free!

Barcode Inventory Management for Ecwid by Lightspeed

Barcode Inventory Management can help you manage your store’s inventory. Try now, and get a 7 day free trial!

Barcode Inventory Management for BigCommerce

Barcode Inventory Management can help you manage your store’s warehouse, inventory and orders. Try now, and get a 7 day free trial!

Hopefully this article has inspired you to make improvements to your inventory management systems. If you have any questions about A Thousand App’s apps, please reach out to us at and we’ll happily address any concerns you have!