Inventory assets

Inventory includes anything that can be physically accounted for in a fulfillment center. There are specific definitions of types of inventory that can be fulfilled. For example, items, products, SKUs, bundles, and packages; but these types are all considered inventory.

Products are configured for fulfillment in the Product wizard and the Product notebook. This configuration includes options to track inventory, allow backorder, force backorder, release separately, and specify that the product cannot be returned. The WebSphere Commerce Accelerator distinguishes between two major types of inventory that can be received:

  • Expected inventory that has an associated expected inventory record
  • Ad hoc inventory, or inventory that cannot be recorded as expected

Expected inventory is received from a vendor and typically paid for with a purchase order. The WebSphere Commerce Accelerator tracks expected inventory with expected inventory records, and provides you the ability to record an external identifier. This identifier is typically a purchase order number from an external system. In this way, you can manage the inventory that you ordered and received, and track what is still on orderl. Expected inventory details are the specifics about products in an expected inventory record. For example, the fulfillment center that expects the product, the expected receipt date, the quantity that is expected, and comments.

An expected inventory record cannot be deleted if the inventory is received against it. Expected inventory details cannot be changed or deleted if any part of that inventory is received.

When orders are placed for inventory that is available in a fulfillment center, the order system allocates inventory to those orders. Allocating inventory to an order makes it unavailable to the order system. If the order is canceled, the inventory becomes available again. If an order is placed for inventory that is not available, a backorder can be created. If there is expected inventory that can be used to fulfill the backorder, then the expected inventory is allocated to the backorder. With this allocation, the customer can be provided with an expected ship date.

For all store models, the inventory configuration (how inventory and backorders are managed) is governed by the value of the FFMCENTER.INVENTORYOPFLAGS property. If FFMCENTER.INVENTORYOPFLAGS is set to 0 or 2 for a store, backorders are enabled for that store. You must also create and administer the WebSphere Commerce INVENTORY table records for that store; otherwise every order is a backorder.

Ad hoc inventory receipts are created when inventory arrives at a fulfillment center without a corresponding expected inventory record. This lack of inventory record can be from an unexpected inventory arrival, or it can be the choice of the merchant or seller not to use expected inventory records to record inventory receipts. Products must exist in the WebSphere Commerce system to be received, whether the inventory receipt is expected or ad hoc.

To understand inventory assets, it is necessary to understand the relationships between inventory and the store. This relationship can be explained by the use of an information model. A store can use Available-to-promise (ATP), non-ATP, No inventory, or External Inventory models. The ALLOCATIONGOODFOR column in the STORE table was previously used to distinguish ATP from Non-ATP inventory and to define the expiration time of the inventory allocation. This column is now used to only define the expired time (in seconds) after an order is allocated. A new column INVENTORYSYSTEM is added to the STORE database and has the values:
For ATP Inventory
For non-ATP Inventory
For No-Inventory
For External Inventory

There are no corresponding information models for the No Inventory or External Inventory models. These models do not maintain the same information in the WebSphere Commerce database. The No Inventory model presupposes that inventory is infinite, and so does not require tracking. The External Inventory model assumes that any data is stored on the external system, so tracking would be obtained from that same system. However, some tables in the WebSphere Commerce database are used to cache the external inventory data. After the STORE.INVENTORYSYSTEM column changes to -4, the external inventory system requires further configuration and integration with an existing inventory system.

WebSphere Commerce EnterpriseThe default configuration for the Extended Sites store model is to disable any backorder.