ERP system

Merchandise management systems as part of merchandise management

In the context of consumer goods distribution, a large number of activities are aimed directly at the goods to be procured and sold. These activities are referred to as merchandise management and must be coordinated and controlled with one another and with the other areas of activity in the day-to-day business of a trading or industrial company.
This task is assigned to the inventory management. It includes all management functions in the context of will formation (planning / decision), will enforcement (control / personnel management) and control including the related information and communication functions that relate to the structure and process design in the field of merchandise management. The subject of inventory management are decisions that range from the design of the disposition and information systems themselves (e.g. the technologies to be implemented, the networking between the subsystems and the integration with the system environment) to the (operational) decisions relating to day-to-day business The flow of goods, money and information within the framework of the given system structures is sufficient.

The merchandise management within a system under consideration, which can be the individual trading company, a plurality of trading companies (trading system) or a multi-level distribution system, always comprises two components:

The executing activities in connection with the goods (goods process system) and the information and management activities associated with the goods process (goods management system).

In this respect, a merchandise management system (MMS) can be characterized as the sum of all information and decision-making processes in trading companies or distribution systems directed towards the goods. Merchandise management systems have always been an indispensable source of information for retail management. They traditionally provide important information bases for the various functional areas of merchandise management. In addition, it is increasingly the task of merchandise management systems to provide data for decisions outside the narrower area of merchandise management, especially for marketing decisions by commercial and industrial companies.

The trend towards computer support and the integration of merchandise management systems

Even if computer support is not a mandatory feature of merchandise management systems, it is increasingly becoming a matter of course. When reference is made to inventory control systems in practice and literature today, one means (unless expressly stated otherwise) computer-based inventory control systems (CWWS).

The terminology has become confused because certain software packages are sometimes referred to as computer-aided merchandise management systems. This must be described as inexpedient, since a merchandise management system can indeed be supported by such a software package, but its components, as illustrated in Fig. 3, extend beyond this.

In addition to computer support, computer-aided merchandise management is currently networked both internally, ie within trading companies, and externally, ie, for example, with banks and credit card companies, suppliers, customers and market research institutes.

On the one hand, this has the effect that the systematic processing of the inventory information base in retail is becoming increasingly professional. The spread of decentralized computer-aided merchandise management systems is of far-reaching importance for the marketing of trade and industry. Trading systems (branch systems, cooperating groups) now use these in their business premises, i.e. in the branches and at cooperating retailers (member companies). They are based on a hardware and software package, which is characterized by the fact that it supports partial functions of the decentralized merchandise management in the business premises.

The introduction of decentralized, computer-aided merchandise management systems opens up the possibility for the first time in trading systems of tracking the flow of goods from incoming goods at the system headquarters to outgoing goods at the business premises and thus providing information on important decision-making matters.

The acquisition of sales data in retail stores is increasingly done using scanning systems. Networking the central and decentralized merchandise management systems creates a cross-level connection of computer-aided subsystems of the spatially separated organizational units, which, from an information management point of view, represents the internal integration of information systems.

On the other hand, the external networking of the computer-aided merchandise management systems ensures a connection between the information bases of retail and information from its most important transaction partners. This form of networking can be described as external integration.

Both internal and external integration are only at an early stage. However, the first changes in the course are becoming apparent, which give a clear indication of possible future developments in the area of integrated merchandise management systems.

It can already be observed at the moment that the necessary data for financial transactions with banks and credit card institutions are exchanged electronically; with regard to suppliers and logistics service providers, the traditional information channels within the framework of routine business processes (e.g. repeat orders) through a reciprocal electronic data exchange ( EDI), through the issue of identification cards to the customers of retail stores, new information bases are obtained, the sales information recorded by scanning, sometimes supplemented, for example, with information about customers and the sales efforts at the point of sale, to third parties (in particular to commercial market research) for further processing, international purchasing associations are informed about the sale of jointly procured goods.

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