Launching Inventory Planner

The Inventory Planner Launch Guide walks through setting up a new account, account settings, catalog maintenance, forecasting and replenishment, and other key details to help with gaining success with Inventory Planner.

This guide is more specialized, as it explains how Inventory Planner can be configured when connecting directly through an Inventory Management System. Both guides will be a useful reference throughout your Inventory Planner experience.

What I have multiple connections?

This guide is focused on configuring Inventory Planner with an eCommerce connection. If/When you have multiple connections with Inventory Planner beyond an eCommerce connection, you can refer to the following specialized guides:

Is Inventory Planner an Inventory Management System?

Inventory Planner strictly pulls product, sales, and stock information from other eCommerce and inventory management systems to provide forecasted needs, replenishment recommendations, reporting insights, and purchase order creation. An exception is for customers who are connected through an eCommerce platform - we offer the opportunity for users to increase stock in the store after receiving a PO from a Vendor (or a Transfer Order from another warehouse).

Inventory Planner does not adjust stock information beyond this functionality, but we do connect with numerous inventory management systems that can assist with day to day order management & fulfillment, warehouse management, stock takes, etc.

You can see a full list of platforms that integrate with Inventory Planner along with the details we pull from each system here: https://www.inventory-planner.com/integrations

Configure Connection(s) and Warehouses

When you connect a store with Inventory Planner, the warehouses appear as options you can enable/disable in Account > Settings > Connections & Warehouses. Only enable locations/warehouses that you need to evaluate independently for forecasting and replenishment planning purposes.

You can create a Combined Warehouse to aggregate sales (and/or stock) information from multiple warehouses into a single view - to generate forecasted needs and replenishment recommendations based on totaled data.

Note: you do not need to enable individual warehouses if it's sufficient to include them the combined warehouse configuration.

In this example, the sales are combined from all Shopify locations/warehouses, along with sales only (ignoring stock) from Shopify France and Shopify Italy. With this configuration, all sales orders are captured in the 'combined warehouse' view for forecasting and replenishment planning purposes, but the stock in France and Italy is irrelevant in this case since the sales are fulfilled from the Germany warehouse.

Note: if you have multiple connections and/or duplicative listings of the exact same Variant/SKU connected to Inventory Planner, it is important to combine Listings first in order to maintain accurate reports using a combined warehouse.

Forecasting, Replenishment, and Reporting

Here are some videos and resources that Amazon users can reference related to forecasting, replenishment, purchase orders, and reports in Inventory Planner.

Replenishment and Edit Forecast are the key areas of Inventory Planner to generate your forecast and replenishment recommendations. Use the Replenishment Report for Variant/SKU level forecasting and replenishment analysis, and to create Purchase Orders using replenishment recommendations. Replenishment is an output of your Forecast Method & Settings, Forecast Edits, and your planning period (lead time + days of stock).

The Edit Forecast section shows a monthly breakdown of forecasted sales. Select the date range in the top right for your Report, then click on Columns (using the gear icon in the top right) and Filters to see the information you need. Metrics are calculated at the Variant (SKU) level. Use the top left dropdown to aggregate reports and/or override forecasts in different dimensions (eg. by category, by vendor, etc).

How is the forecast and replenishment calculated?

Purchase Orders and Transfer Orders

Information related to Purchase Orders and Transfers is typically not available through an eCommerce API. In this case Inventory Planner acts as a Purchase Order Management System - allowing users to generate and receive Purchase Orders and Transfers, then to optionally increase stock in the eCommerce store upon receiving and closing the order.

If/When an eCommerce API is updated to include Purchase Orders or Transfers information, the functionality to sync them to/from Inventory Planner will be implemented. Check the Integrations Page anytime to see if these features are supported for your integration.

Planning for Bundles and Assemblies (Pre-Kitted Goods) using an eCommerce Integration

A Bundle can also be referred to as a kit, a virtual bundle, or a gift set. Bundles are simply different ways of selling the Variants - eg. 10 total shirts = (1) 10PK or (2) 5PK or (10) 1PK. In this case, all of the stock is tied together - and goods are bundled after the sale occurs when the customer order is fulfilled.

Configuring Bundles with Variants (components) allows Inventory Planner to consider sales from Bundles in directly with the sales of components/variants when producing a forecast and replenishment recommendation at the Variant level.

Note: Inventory Planner does not manage the stock of Bundles and Components based on customer orders. Using the same example, if a customer purchases a 5PK T-SHIRT bundle - an external solution is needed to decrease the stock level respectively for the 1PK T-SHIRT. This should be handled through an inventory management system, or through a third-party application such as the Bundles App for creating bundles and managing bundle stock.

For many Inventory Management System integrations, Bundle/Variant and Assembly/Variant relationships are synced to Inventory Planner automatically. With eCommerce integrations, these relationships often need to be configured directly within Inventory Planner. If/When an eCommerce API is updated to include these relationships, the functionality to sync them to/from Inventory Planner will be implemented. Check the Integrations Page anytime to see if these features are supported for your integration.

An Assembly must be produced from components (variants) before it can be placed into stock and available for sale. These goods are pre-assembled before the sale and fulfillment of an item.

Assemblies include any produced goods with a bill-of-materials (BOM), and bundles/kits that must be produced before sending to Amazon (or a different fulfillment warehouse).

For Assemblies you should adjust the Forecast Method & Settings, Assembly Time, and Days of Stock at the Assemblies (finished goods) level in order to drive replenishment recommendations for your components/variants (materials).

Understanding forecasting and How Replenishment is Calculated for any item is key to understanding replenishment recommendations for Assemblies & Variants (components). Here is how forecasting and replenishment works in the context of Assemblies:

The recommended workflow for eCommerce integrations is to create Assembly Orders (production orders) to create new assemblies from component stock. Once Assembly Orders are received, an option appears at the bottom to decrease stock of components, and increase stock of assemblies in your store.

Purchase Orders (POs) are placed to purchase component Variants from your Vendors. As Purchase Orders are received, an option is returned to increase the stock of components in your store.

Configuring Assembly Orders with an eCommerce Integration

Assemblies only need an "Assembly Time" configured. Lead Time is only configured for component Variants, and is automatically considered as part of the replenishment analysis. Inventory Planner first uses any existing component stock (if applicable) to build new assemblies, then recommends new component stock above and beyond that amount for future assemblies; with their lead times in mind.

The Replenishment requirements for Assemblies drive the stock utilization and replenishment requirements for components. Note: Planning for Assemblies should take only place in warehouses where there are forecasted sales to drive recommendations.

Anytime you create a new stock order in Inventory Planner (Purchase Orders for component Variants, Assembly Orders to produce new Assemblies, Transfer Orders to move stock between locations), you can select any Destination Warehouse.

One workflow example is to -

1) Configure a combined warehouse using sales and stock from my fulfillment center + stock and PO information from my main warehouse, then

2) Generate Purchase Orders from the combined warehouse to Vendors to be received at the destination (main warehouse), then

3) Create Assembly Orders with the same source & destination (main warehouse), then

4) Create Transfer Orders to send Assemblies to the final destination (fulfillment center).

Vendors and Vendor Attributes

Vendors and Vendor Attributes (eg. Cost Price, Vendor Reference) typically need to be configured directly within Inventory Planner when connecting through an eCommerce integration. Attributes synced from each system vary, and when they are not synced - they can be inputted (or uploaded directly) into Inventory Planner. Check the Integrations Page to see which features are supported for your integration.

Additional Resources for eCommerce Integrations

  • Vendors / Set Variants with Vendors: configure Vendors, and associate Variants with Vendors in order to populate information on Purchase Orders automatically as they are created.

  • IP Warehouse: to track extra stock manually. IP Warehouses can be added with other warehouses as part of a combined warehouse configuration.

  • Combined Warehouse: to aggregate sales (and/or stock) information from multiple warehouses into a single view - to generate forecasted needs and replenishment recommendations based on totaled data.

  • Listings: connect multiple listings of the same exact Variant/SKU (if you have multiple connections, or duplicative listings within a single connection).

  • Compare Warehouse Report: compare metrics across multiple warehouses, and optionally generate warehouse transfer recommendations.

Explanations of metrics, columns/filters, or other features:

Visit the Integrations Page for a full list of details Inventory Planner syncs from every integration, or experiment with features anytime in the Inventory Planner Demo Store.

Feel free to contact Inventory Planner directly at contact@inventory-planner.intercom-mail.com or to schedule a call to review any other questions.

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