Inventory allocation is often lamented for its degree of difficulty. Most ERP systems are just not equipped to handle the many supply chain exception conditions. And then layer the need to go paperless using advanced mobile inventory solutions and the inventory challenges become complex. Sophisticated warehouse management
designed to be easy to understand becomes the only answer
The top 3 challenges which face most supply chain folks are:
- How much of an item is “Available to Promise” … AtP?
- 3PL inventory visibility across multiple Customers thru a secure portal
- When demand exceeds supply the question becomes: to steal? or not to steal inventory for another order??
With unlimited supply, these challenges would never be an issue. But that is rarely the reality. More common are scenarios of ever-changing forecasts and demand. It turns out that one company has cracked the code. And the answer was right in front of us all the time … item attribute allocation sets.
Take scenario one, a typical use case in the omni-channel where Shopify, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and a multitude of other e-commerce platforms need visibility to AtP. It turns out that Available to Promise is a simple calculation: Inventory on Hand – Sales Orders = AtP. It can get complicated quickly though if you need to separate availability by channel. Take one franchisor customer of ours for example.
Most of their items need to be sold in 3 different channels.
1. Internal Franchisor consumption,
2. External Franchisees and
3. Their B2C ecommerce channel.
Each channel can have unique criteria around what constitutes Inv on Hand and Sales Orders. For example, the franchisor channel is more willing to unallocate their inventory then the B2C channel. In B2C, if you can not fulfill on your AtP, there can be severe fines or even defaults on agreements with major channel partners like FBA. Inv on hand needs to be more closely managed for this reason. Business rules are enabled to handle multiple channel needs for AtP within the WithoutWire console. This creates the need for security and permissions around mobile functionality. Managing allocation in this way optimizes your revenue AND customer satisfaction! In the illustration below you can see that item #2425 is allocated to (reserved for) the Customer “Cayman Water” and is not available to any other customer’s order:
Scenario two utilizes our WithoutWire tools for 3PL, consignment and Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI). The WithoutWire platform extends seamlessly with the Microsoft Platform through our Power Automate, Power Connectors and Power Apps. This not only allows us to identify Customer inventory with ownership, but it drives reporting to Customers to not only make requests to meet their needs, but real-time visibility to their inventory, its quantities, its movements, and corresponding invoicing. We connect our system to the Microsoft Customer Portal so that our clients have a security-controlled environment to address the common inventory questions, and power to win new 3PL customers … and retain them!
The third scenario is perhaps my favorite. Have you ever had inventory disappear in your warehouse? I believe this has been the case for every prospect I have ever spoken with over the past 14 years! Now you see it … now you don’t. Where does it go? Warehouse Ghosts must exist! Well not really, this problem has led WithoutWire to ghost-busting new functionality using “Allocation Sets”. Think of this as “reservation” of inventory. The ability to set aside critical inventory for its intended purpose, out of reach of others who may not have done proper inventory planning. This has several common use cases including technicians who need the same part. Or various channels who would like to grab a high-demand part. But perhaps the most common, is for staging parts against long running projects. Suppose you are procuring parts over the next 30 days to stage for a project that you need to install. If every time you turn around your “reserved” parts are being taken by other “immediate use” projects, you will quickly feel like you are in a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole”. To solve this, our customers stamp each item to its designated project as it arrives. Now stealing of inventory can still occur, but no longer by accident. With the proper Supervisor authority, inventory swapping is planned and executed thru our mobile application
. For these use cases, a little bit of discipline goes a long way in optimizing supply chain inventory movements.
We hope that you will contact us to today for a product demonstration of complex inventory made simple for Distribution, Manufacturing and/or Field Service.
Steve Dwyer, Chief Revenue Officer