Multi-channel Inventory Allocation: How to Fill the Right Orders in the Right Order

February 4, 2019 Geoff Hicks

Are you a multi-channel distributor looking for a competitive edge? You probably already have a solution that helps you forecast demand and produce or order the right product at the right time. But, is that enough? Today’s distributors need to be doing more to win the loyalty of your customers.


What’s missing? Finished Goods Inventory Allocation


ERP solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 are excellent at helping distributors manage the traditional sales and fulfillment cycle. What we don’t have out of the box is being able to release orders for shipment in a methodical and informed manner based on the big picture – what is in house today vs. what is the projected demand from your customers tomorrow vs. which channel is your priority.


For example, based on your demand forecasts, you order 500 widgets in January. You sell these widgets through a big-box retailer, your own retail stores, and also through eCommerce. The big-box retailer orders 400 widgets, leaving only 100 widgets ready to ship. Your retail store had record sales over the holidays and orders 200 widgets. Add the fact that you have to ship out 100 widgets ordered through your website —what do you do? How do you allocate these 500 widgets?


If you had an easy way to allocate finished goods inventory based on having all the information you needed at a glance, you could:


  • Identify and alleviate potential issues early
  • Ensure high priority customers are always taken care of
  • Fill the right orders in the right order
  • Improve demand forecasting
  • Keep customers happy and loyal


Some organizations perform this task today but do it manually and on an individual basis. Your best employees may intuitively know or guess about upcoming orders and the need to reserve inventory for high priority customers. You may be allocating a certain percentage of product for these situations. The problem with this method is that it is not automated and doesn’t scale across your product lines and teams. And it doesn’t keep pace with new product and purchasing trends.


How do you fix it?


Creativity and experience. That’s where Western Computer can help. We can configure and extend your Dynamics 365 solution to include the intelligence and flexibility you need to handle these dynamic situations in an efficient manner.


While the above is a basic example of the challenges facing many distributors, the solution can be uniquely tailored to your specific challenges, objectives and channels. We can combine intelligence from all relevant data sources and channels to present actionable information in a meaningful way.


For example, maybe that is integrating EDI, machine learning, historical data, CRM notes, current orders and more—and then creating Power BI dashboards for various departments across the company. Sales sees which customers they need to proactively contact, warehouse staff knows which orders need to be picked, packed and shipped in what order, and management has the intelligence they need to make decisions and adjustments in real time.


At Western Computer, our experts are ready to tackle your biggest challenges. We specialize in distributors and finding creative approaches to meet your specific industry needs. Our deep experience and expertise with Dynamics 365 means you can depend on us for even the most complex customizations.  


Contact us today to talk through options for a multi-channel inventory allocation solution designed to fit your distribution model.


About the Author

Geoff Hicks

Geoff Hicks joined Western Computer in the fall of 2018 as a Senior Project Manager and Solution Architect Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. In this role, Geoff is responsible for helping customers succeed and excel through the implementation process.

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