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 useful references throughout your Inventory Planner experience.

What, I have multiple connections?

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

Configure Connection(s) and Warehouses

To sync products & stock information from a custom ERP, users can setup a custom connector using a CSV integration. This configuration requires 2-3 separate CSV files via public link (eg. Google Drive, Dropbox) to define products & stock, sales orders, and purchase orders (optional).

Note: It's recommended in this case to work with an external developer to extract data from your connection and update the required files automatically. From there, Inventory Planner syncs the data from the connection automatically or anytime a manual sync is initiated from the interface; as it would from a direct integration.

Only one warehouse can be supported at a time currently using a CSV integration. In order to configure multiple warehouses, multiple CSV connections are required. When you connect multiple CSV integrations 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 3 warehouses, but the stock is only combined from the main "CSV" warehouse. With this configuration, sales orders are captured in the 'combined warehouse' view for forecasting and replenishment planning purposes, but the stock in "CSV 2" and "CSV 3" is irrelevant in this case since the sales are fulfilled from the "CSV" 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

There are 3 methods that can be used for generating and managing Purchase Orders and Transfers using a custom CSV connection. It's recommended to use approach "a" below or "b" - but not both. Approach "c" is not recommended, since it is manual and duplicative; which is prone to errors.

a) Generate POs within Inventory Planner and work with a 3rd party developer to access the POs from our Inventory Planner Public API. The API includes PO details and information about receiving, so you can generate POs in Inventory Planner then receive in your ERP to send the receiving information back to Inventory Planner.

b) Export replenishment recommendations from Inventory Planner, import them into your ERP, then send the POs back into Inventory Planner through the CSV Integration PO file. As POs are received/closed in your ERP with this scenario, your developer can update the information in the CSV PO file accordingly so we can sync from there.

c) NOT RECOMMENDED: Generate POs within Inventory Planner, then after receiving them into stock in your ERP - simultaneously close the POs in Inventory Planner to reduce the "on order" quantity (stock levels would update after the next sync based on the CSV connection).

Planning for Bundles and Assemblies (Pre-Kitted Goods) using an Custom CSV 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.

Inventory Planner considers the sales from Bundles in directly with the sales of components/variants when producing a forecast and replenishment recommendation at the Variant level.

Bundle relationships cannot be automated when using a custom CSV integration. These relationships should be configured directly within Inventory Planner.

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, users 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). Review the section 'Forecasting and Replenishment for Assemblies' in the Bundles and Assemblies article to see how forecasting and replenishment works in the context of Assemblies.

The recommended workflow for custom CSV integrations is to create Assembly Orders (production orders) to build new assemblies from component stock. Assembly recommendations can be Exported from Inventory Planner to inform production plans and stock adjustments in your custom ERP.

Purchase Orders (POs) are placed to purchase component Variants from your Vendors. Check the "Purchase Orders and Transfer" section above for details on generating and managing Purchase Orders and Transfers using a CSV integration.

Learn more about Bundles and Assemblies

Configuring Assembly Orders with a Custom CSV 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) can be synced automatically to Inventory Planner from a CSV integration. Alternatively, they can be inputted (or uploaded directly) into Inventory Planner. Check the Integrations Page to see which attributes are supported for automation.

Additional Resources for Custom CSV Integration

  • 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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