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How to avoid out-of-stock situations

Find the trees in the OSA data forest and avoid out-of-stock situations

There is one thing for which people were especially grateful during the corona crisis: the continuous supply of food items and other important everyday products. Ultimately, the availability of products on our shelves can be considered a basic consumer need. This makes it all the more important to analyze and optimize the availability of products on an ongoing basis. Ideally, all involved partners such as suppliers and retailers should team up to avoid empty shelves. This is where Electronic Data Interchange comes in.

EDITEL CZ has long been part of the ECR working group “Benchmarking and OSA.” The “OSA Barometer Project” was initiated to implement product availability analyses for retail stores.

Following the project’s successful conclusion, the ECR working group is now preparing a pilot project called “ECR OSA Monitor” in collaboration with EDITEL CZ and REPORTING.CZ. The objective of this follow-up project is to find a way of analyzing data based on electronic inventory reports (INVRPT – Inventory Report). The challenge was mostly to identify easy indicators that could be used for logistics, sales, marketing, and finance. Or, in other words: turning massive amounts of data into straightforward graphs or messages in order to spot specifics or interrelations and ultimately ensure that products are always available.

Electronic inventory reports provide a lot of information, including the status of merchandise in stock, sales from stock, receipts into warehouse and merchandise movements. INVRPT contains daily updated information about all products from a given supplier that a retailer has in stock (relying on the GTIN – Global Trade Item Number). Reports are sent from all stores and warehouses.

The joint solution created by EDITEL CZ and REPORTING.CZ compiles this data daily. The Business Intelligence System relies on this data to show indicators including merchandise sales, merchandise received, and actual inventory or non-inventory that can be sorted by time.

There can be many reasons why a given product is not available on the shelves and many conclusions can be drawn. The necessary tools to counteract this at an early stage are already available to all interested businesses even if they are not involved in the “ECR OSA Monitor” pilot project.

OSA Barometer Project

“On-Shelf Availability (OSA) is defined as the availability of a product for purchase by  consumers, in the place they expect it and at the time they want to purchase it, while Out-of-Stock (OOS) is used to describe a situation where consumers do not find the product on the shelf when they wish to purchase it.”  This is the definition the ECR community provides for these two terms.

All product availability analyses performed as part of the “OSA Barometer Project” were based on in-store research about selected products or product categories. These store checks were done on a quarterly basis over a period of approximately 14 days.

iStockphoto copyright Vera Petrunina

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