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Kits, Sets and Assortments—Tracking and Forecasting for Success

Kits, Sets and Assortments—Tracking and Forecasting for Success


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Kits, Sets and Assortments—Tracking and Forecasting for Success

29 Apr 2021

Ken Weygand
grey furniture in a grey bedroom

Home accent, gift accessory, housewares, home goods, you name it, and it’s likely a sector of consumer goods that in some shape or fashion deals in kits, sets and assortments.

Which means there’s an option to purchase items together, as a set, like a tea set or bedroom set—or consumers have the option of buying items individually.

But on the backend, and here’s the key: they’re all different products. They’re developed, designed and purchased individually. A vendor may buy 2,000 king beds, 1,000 queen beds, 4,000 nightstands and 2,000 chests to sell to consumers as sets or to purchase individually.

Aptean Distribution ERP, with its demand planning capabilities, makes managing your kits, sets and assortments easier. Because it’s a very particular kind of management.

A good example of this is a furniture set. Let’s say the set comes with a bed frame, two nightstands, a dresser and a mirror. Each of these items can be sold separately, of course. If someone wanted to buy eight night stands, they could. But the customer also has the option of purchasing the bedroom furniture as a set.

If someone came in wanting to buy the bedroom set, that’s just as possible as buying pieces of the set individually. The difference, at least for the customer, is how the order appears.

That five-piece bedroom set is billed as one item. There’s one SKU, and it’s all delivered and shipped at one time as one order. Customers buy sets, generally, because it’s efficient purchasing, it’s a guarantee that the furniture is coordinated, and because there’s often a discount when all items are purchased together. From a pricing strategy perspective and for customer appeal, it’s smart to buy sets. Because the more you buy, the more you save.

For the supplier, furniture (and other sets) are sold this way because it moves inventory. It’s a way to make the furniture more appealing for the customer to incentivize him/her to buy more than just one piece. With sets of items, though it appears as one order for the customer, it must be recognized as five separate items for the supplier. It’s the only way to track inventory accurately. You have to move five products from inventory, fulfill five different items, and communicate with the customer as if it’s one order, as if you’re billing them for a single item. This can get messy pretty quickly. Billing is different on the back end than on the front end, as is marketing, communication and inventory tracking. An ERP with robust kits, sets and assortments capabilities enables you to track the inventory you want and then use the marketing tools you need to make it easier for your customers.

A lot of ERPs don’t handle this kind of inventory management well. There tends to be heavy customization and clunky add-ons just for the sake of inventory control.

What you really need is a fully integrated consumer goods ERP. An enterprise system with functionality that makes managing kits and assortments easier and more efficient. A solution with:

Demand Planning Capabilities

If customers order one five-piece set, what you really picked and pulled were five individual pieces on the backend. When it comes to forecasting, the data stored and tracked in your ERP indicates this and accounts for individual purchases and kits. You have the flexibility to accurately maintain historical data and plan for future orders and inventory demands.

Forecasting Functionality

With a robust enterprise solution, you can leverage historical data to make informed decisions for future orders. With historical data, you can accurately fulfill the inventory needs of your customers. Having the right inventory—it’s a fine line to walk. You don’t want to have too much, but you don’t want to risk running out, either. An ERP does better than “good guesses”—it does better than “I hope it works out.” It uses the data to fulfill customer orders and meet customer demand.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Functionality

An ERP with built-in EDI functionality creates operational efficiencies, improves customer relationships and streamlines communication between partners. You’re able to exchange the necessary documents and data quickly. And because all the data is centralized and stored within one system, it’s sure to be accurate. With EDI, the focus is on the end-to-end supply chain to ensure that inventory levels are strong, that operations are smooth and that vendors and customers alike are satisfied.

Inventory Management

To manage your kit, set and assortment orders on the backend, you need the right technology. Without it, you’re going to have serious inventory management issues. Because a set is seen as one item for the customer, the system must make adjustments on the back end to ensure that all items in the set are picked, packed and shipped together but tracked in inventory as separate items. Lot and serial tracking enable you to manage and validate customer-specific order needs quickly and efficiently. You can minimize inventory discrepancies with flexible inventory counting options, something that’s particularly vital when managing kit, set and assortment orders. When a customer orders a kit, set or assortment, things get complicated quickly. We used a furniture set order as our example, but this same rule applies to other consumer goods industry sectors. A customer could purchase a three-piece luggage set—the 20”, 24” and 30” bags. Or a collection of three woven baskets—small, medium and large. Or even a lamp set for a room—two table lamps and one floor lamp. Regardless of the set, you need the robust tools that an industry-specific ERP provides.

Are you ready to track and forecast for success? Are you ready to master the mess of kits, sets and assortments? Find out how, now.

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