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The Merchandise and Assortment Planning Integration ES bundle provides retailers with enterprise services to facilitate the transfer of assortment planning data and master data created during the planning process:

  • from the planning application SAP Merchandise and Assortment Planning to the core retail execution system, SAP ERP
  • or from a third-party planning-system to SAP ERP
  • or from SAP MAP to a third-party ERP system

This ES bundle is designed to handle assortment planning for fashion and for non-fashion merchandise.

Fashion merchandise (also called softline merchandise) has the following characteristics:

  • Higher proportion of new articles
  • Short life cycle
  • Generally cannot be replenished at short notice
  • Push-oriented (store view)
  • Open-to-Buy (OTB) and markdowns are very important

Non-fashion merchandise (also called basic merchandise) has the following characteristics:

  • Low proportion of new products
  • Long life cycle
  • Typically can be replenished at short notice
  • Procurement and replenishment are based on actual customer demand (pull-oriented)

Merchandise and Assortment Planning Integration (click to enlarge)


You can imagine that fashion requires a great deal of advance planning in terms of styles and colors and the product mix for the stores, but fashion goods can not be replenished. Non-fashion goods also require assortment planning but generally such planning involves the introduction of a new product or products into an assortment plan rather than entirely new assortment plans (which are the usual case in fashion).
The Merchandise Assortment and Planning Integration ES bundle leverages retail enterprise SOA by service-enabling SAP ERP's OAPC (Operational Assortment Planning and Control) and providing article maintenance in SAP ERP.
Once assortment plans are approved in SAP MAP, the details are automatically transferred to SAP ERP's OAPC (in the case of fashion) or article maintenance functionality (in the case of non-fashion) via enterprise services. In this way, once it is ready, planning data is electronically transferred from the planning system to the execution system, eliminating the need to re-key data. Cost savings can be realized through the reducing or eliminating the use of paper processes or Excel-based applications, and the attendant data accuracy challenges. Automatic integration of the results into the transaction systems results in increased confidence that the assortment plan is being fully executed.

Audience

Retailers in fashion and non-fashion industry segments can apply this bundle at five specific staff levels within their organization:

Category Planner/Assortment Planner - works within SAP MAP to assign defined articles to a store cluster, which is referred to as an assortment.

The resultant "range," in terms of style, color and size mix, forms a coherent product offer within the available space and fixture constraints for a specified period of time (or collection). As part of the process, the planner will also determine sales volumes, ensure the flow of receipts required to support the ranges, and balance the results with the overall departmental plans, an iterative process supported by the buyer. This planner will create and adjust master data for planned articles and create and adjust prepack generation information in the case of fashion retailing. A prepack is a group of product variants with their quantities per variant; these variants belong to one specific style (product) with different color/size characteristics. Although the planner primarily works in SAP MAP (the planning system), he or she may also adjust assortment planning information in the execution system and add missing information as needed.

Buyer - primarily works to source articles for inclusion in the collection and supports the planners in the development of the coherent ranges referred to earlier. There may be circumstances where the buyer will also use SAP MAP to assign the sourced articles to stores, depending on the retailer's organizational structure.

Space Planner - responsible for optimization of available shelf/floor space and the visual representation of the defined range within the store groups. Dependent on the organizational structure, responsibility can vary from pure placement to responsibility for the product assignment and deletion. This planner mainly plays a role within assortment planning for non-fashion.

Merchandise (or Category) Controller/Manager - approves the final results. Also plays a role within assortment planning for non-fashion goods.

Planning IT Support or Planning Power User - releases assortment planning data and planned articles (including the related colors/sizes in the case of fashion) from the planning system to the execution system.

For details on Service Operations, Business Objects and Process Components, please check the ES Workplace.



How To Use This ES Bundle

Assortment planning is a process that typically requires buyers, assortment planners and merchandise planners to work iteratively through multiple assortment versions and scenarios prior to approving the final plan. The objective of assortment planning is to define the right mix of products and assign it to the right cluster of stores for the right length of time.

The challenge faced by fashion retailers is the inherent uncertainty around articles (styles/color/size) as they move from concept to approval (or rejection), the requirement for flexibility/multiple versions, and the iterative nature of the discussions leading to assortment approval. Non-fashion retailers, on the other hand, usually plan down to a single article (product) when doing assortment planning in SAP MAP to define the right product mix. Non-fashion retailers also need to be able to create an article during the planning phase to complete the right product mix. The integration of this article in SAP ERP is a feature supported by this ES bundle.

Historically, retailers have used MS Excel-based spreadsheets that offered agility and flexibility, although difficulties over version control, data accuracy and re-keying of data were the norm. The former version of SAP MAP improved the process, but assortment planning for fashion merchandise could not be completed down to the color or size level. This work had to be undertaken in the OAPC functionality of the SAP ERP system, and system limitations inhibited iterative processing.

The Merchandise Assortment and Planning Integration ES bundle enables fashion retailers to transfer the results of assortment planning completed in SAP MAP on style/color/size level to the OAPC in SAP ERP, where article data, allocations, and purchase orders are created. The ES bundle also enables non-fashion retailers to release new articles to be created in the merchandising system. Additional master data for the item may be entered in SAP ERP. The need for Excel-based approaches is negated while the efficiency of the planning activity and its links to the execution systems are improved, ensuring that the plan is executed.

How This ES Bundle Helps Fashion Retailers

The challenge faced by all fashion retailers is the inherent uncertainty around articles (styles/color/size) as they move from concept to approval (or rejection), the requirement for flexibility/multiple versions and the iterative nature of the discussions leading to assortment approval.

For most fashion retailers, assortment planning is a very sensitive and complex process, but it is also the most important process within the whole planning scenario. SAP MAP offers a great solution to coordinate all your planning processes and to generate an optimal assortment plan. However, when the assortment plan is passed to the OAPC in SAP ERP, even more complementary processing is available, including procurement, creation of and changes to master data, and the like. Fashion merchandisers will need only the following two enterprise services (they include planned targets and article master data) to integrate the assortment plan from SAP MAP into the OAPC in SAP ERP:

Outbound service called from SAP MAP

Inbound service called from SAP ERP

Request Retail Purchasing Plan

Maintain Retail Purchasing Plan

Business object: Assortment Plan

Business object: Retail Purchasing Plan

This service operation enables you to maintain a Retail Purchasing Plan in SAP ERP (OAPC). As input, from the Assortment Plan, it takes the list of styles (also newly created article during planning process) with their attributes, colors, sizes, and planned quantities per assortment as well as target sales per assortment. This outbound service is called through the MAP Release Workbench when it is time to transfer the assortment plan to the OAPC in SAP ERP.

This service operation is the inbound service on the ERP side. It takes the information from Request Retail Purchasing Plan, which is sent through the SAP MAP Release Workbench, and transfers it into OAPC, creating or updating a Retail Purchasing Plan as needed.

How This ES Bundle Helps Non-Fashion Retailers

Non-fashion merchandise poses very different challenges, and these challenges are well-addressed by the enterprise services included in this ES bundle.

Since further processing for non-fashion merchandise is not needed in OAPC, the services involved are more fine-grained than the ones for fashion merchandising. Using these services, you can create an article with its basic data, purchasing data, and sales data in SAP ERP, based on the information you entered in SAP MAP. Here are the services needed for handling non-fashion goods. All outbound services are sent from SAP MAP through the Release Workbench.

Outbound service called from SAP MAP through the Release Workbench

Inbound service called from SAP ERP

Request Material Basic Data

Create Material Basic Data

Business object: Merchandise and Assortment Planning Material

Business object: Material

Using this service, you can request the creation of a material (a single article) with its basic data in SAP ERP. As input, this service takes material basic data such as material number, description, and merchandise category.

This inbound service creates the material basic data, such as material number, description, and merchandise category in SAP ERP.

Request Sales Price Specification Calculation

Create Sales Price Specification Calculation

Business object: Merchandise and Assortment Planning Sales Price Specification Calculation

Business object: Sales Price Specification Calculation

This outbound service allows you to calculate a sales price in SAP MAP and transfer it to SAP ERP via the Release Workbench.

This inbound service creates the sales price specification in SAP ERP.

Request Product Procurement Arrangement as Bulk

Create Product Procurement Arrangement as Bulk

Business object: Merchandise and Assortment Planning Product Procurement Arrangement

Business object: Product Procurement Arrangement

This outbound service requests the creation of a product procurement arrangement through the Release Workbench.

This inbound service creates the product procurement arrangement in SAP ERP.

Please note that these tables do not include all the services in this ES bundle, but rather highlight the ones relevant for fashion and non-fashion retailers respectively.

The following series of use cases for Merchandise Assortment and Planning Integration ES bundle show how different outcomes can be achieved by using the enterprise services in different combinations. While these examples illustrate a few of the ways that this ES bundle could be used, the intention is to show the flexibility and reusability of these business objects and enterprise service operations so that you will have a clearer understanding of how to best deploy them in your own environment. This wiki is also a space for you to share knowledge and collaborate with others who are implementing the Merchandise Assortment and Planning Integration ES bundle.

Use Case 1: Assortment Planning for Fashion Merchandise

Where fashion merchandise is involved, assortment planning is much more dependent on creativity. It is often the case that the specific articles do not even exist in the system when assortment planning begins. Accordingly, assortment planning initially involves "ideas" or "shells" of articles, which then take shape progressively over the course of the planning process. An important function or purpose of these planned articles is to reserve capacities at a time when the actual articles are not yet known.

The assortment planner begins by clustering stores with similar characteristics and then defines an appropriate product mix and time period for the stores within SAP MAP. You cluster your stores with equal characteristics into one assortment (putting, for example, all big stores in one cluster). The stores within this assortment are considered together during the assortment planning process.

Next, the planner defines targets in value and quantity on an assortment level.

The planner may then create potential new articles (styles) for the assortments although, typically, not all of the planned articles will be approved for the assortments. Therefore, the planner enters the minimal information needed to create a new planned article in SAP MAP.

Updates to planned article data, such as vendor, sales price, and so on may be added to the assortment plan at this time, along with color selection for the articles in the assortment plan. The planner then plans the goods receipt quantities per assortment on the level of article and article/color for the new planned articles and for existing articles. To create prepack generation information, the planner enters information to distribute quantities on the size level, including pack size and quota scale (which defines in general the color and size quotas for the different product variants).

Once the plan is complete (it may go through many revisions), the system administrator uses the Release Workbench to send the assortment plan to SAP ERP by invoking the Request Retail Purchasing Plan enterprise service operation. On the ERP side, this action automatically invokes Maintain Retail Purchasing Plan, which creates or updates the Retail Purchasing Plan as appropriate.

At this point, actions to carry out the retail purchasing plan are performed in the OAPC and in follow-on areas such as purchasing.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case.

Step

Enterprise Service invoked

Step 1: The planner defines the assortment, clustering the stores for planning purposes

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: The planner plans targets in value and quantity on the assortment level

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 3: The planner creates planned articles (styles), entering minimal information

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 4: The planner updates planned articles (style) as information becomes available

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 5: The planner updates the assortment plan with colors for the articles included

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 6: The planner specifies quantities

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 7: The planner creates prepack generation information

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 8: The planner finalizes the assortment plan, indicating it is ready to be released

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 9: The system administrator releases the assortment plan to the OAPC within SAP ERP

Request Retail Purchasing Plan

Step 10: SAP ERP automatically invokes a service to read in the information from the SAP MAP Release Workbench

Maintain Retail Purchasing Plan

Step 11: In OAPC, the buyer and other planners perform several follow on actions, including releasing items specified in the plan for purchasing

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Use Case 2: Assortment Planning for Fashion Merchandise with Planning Split Between SAP MAP and SAP ERP

As with any business, business processes vary from one fashion retailer to another. In use case 1, the entire planning phase, right down to assortment, style, and color, was carried out in the planning system (SAP MAP) and then transferred to the execution system (SAP ERP). But much more flexibility is available. Planners might do a minimum of planning in SAP MAP and then transfer the plan to the OAPC in SAP ERP to complete their merchandise and assortment planning.

In this use case, the assortment planner again begins by clustering stores with equal characteristics and then defines an appropriate product mix and time period for the stores within SAP MAP. Value and quantity are defined on an assortment level, new planned articles are added, and quantities are planned. However, details about colors are left open to be completed by either another planner or the buyer in the OAPC.

Once the plan is completed as far as desired in SAP MAP, the system administrator uses the Release Workbench to send the assortment plan to SAP ERP by invoking the Request Retail Purchasing Plan enterprise service operation. On the ERP side, this action automatically invokes Maintain Retail Purchasing Plan, which creates the Retail Purchasing Plan.

In the OAPC of SAP ERP, the planner continues to refine the assortment plan, selecting colors and sizes and creating prepacks. Additional master data may be added to the skeleton created in SAP MAP. After the plan is finalized, then follow-on actions related to purchasing are performed in SAP ERP.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: The planner defines the assortment, clustering the stores for planning purposes

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: The planner plans targets in value and quantity on the assortment level

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 3: The planner creates planned articles (styles), entering minimal information

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 4: The planner updates planned articles (styles) as information becomes available

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 5: The planner specifies quantities

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 6: The planner finalizes the assortment plan, indicating it is ready to be released

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 7: The system administrator releases the assortment plan to the OAPC within SAP ERP

Request Retail Purchasing Plan

Step 8: SAP ERP automatically invokes a service to read in the information from the SAP MAP Release Workbench

Maintain Retail Purchasing Plan

Step 9: In OAPC, the planner continues to refine the assortment plan, selecting colors and sizes and creating prepacks. Additional master data may be added to the skeleton created in SAP MAP. After the plan is finalized, then follow-on actions related to purchasing are performed in SAP ERP.

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Use Case 3: Assortment Planning for Non-Fashion Merchandise

In this use case, the assortment planner needs to create new articles (products) to define the best product mix for the assortment. After finalizing the assortment plan, the article master data is released for creation in the operational system, SAP ERP.

Before a new product is released, the assortment planner may want the space planner to have a look at where it will fit using a third-party shelf optimization program. That part of this use case will refer to the Planning to Shelf Optimization Integration ES bundle.

To begin, the assortment planner first clusters stores with similar characteristics so that planning occurs at the store cluster level. She then defines an appropriate product mix and time period for the stores within SAP MAP. The planner may enhance this product mix by adding new articles that the supplier has introduced into the market. She enters some information about each new article (for example, base unit of measure, merchandise category). These planned articles can be planned further, similar to existing articles in the subsequent steps. All planned articles need not be included in the final assortment plan. They can be removed from the assortment plan at a later date (for example, due to shelf optimization); if they are eliminated from the assortment plan, they won't be transferred to the operational system.

At this stage, the planner now has further information about the new articles, such as purchase price and sales price, and she enters this information about the article, updating the article in SAP MAP.

The planner knows that shelf space is always limited; if new products are going to be added, the presentation of the products must be rearranged. She then asks the space planner to take these new products into account using his shelf optimization program (for more information, see the Planning to Shelf Optimization Integration ES bundle).

After confirming that the space planner can make room for these items, the assortment is fixed and information about the assortment can be released to SAP ERP, where master data will be created. The assortment planner indicates to the system administrator that she is ready for the data to be released into SAP ERP.

The system administrator sends the articles to SAP ERP by choosing the message type PRODUCT in the SAP MAP Release Workbench. All article data (basic data, purchasing data, sales data) are sent in one step to SAP ERP. Behind the scenes, the system invokes the Request Material Basic Data enterprise service operation once for each new article. Invoking this service automatically triggers the corresponding service in SAP ERP: Create Material Basic Data.

In the same step, the system also transfers all information related to the product procurement arrangement by invoking Request Product Procurement Arrangement as Bulk. This service will create all related product procurement arrangement information in SAP ERP by seamlessly invoking Create Product Procurement Arrangement as Bulk on the ERP side.

Also in the same step, the system sends over pricing information for the articles by invoking Request Sales Price Specification Calculation, which, on the ERP side, will automatically trigger the Create Sales Price Specification Calculation enterprise service operation.

The steps in this use case can be followed any time a new item is added to the product mix, depending on how frequently non-fashion assortments are modified.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: The planner defines the assortment, clustering the stores for planning purposes

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: The planner defines the right product mix for this assortment, for a specific time period

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 3: The planner enhances the product mix with some new articles, entering basic information for them

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 4: The planner updates the new articles with additional information about pricing

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 5: The assortment planner consults with a space planner to see the impact of the new items from a space planning perspective

Space planner may use services from the Planning to Shelf Optimization Integration ES bundle (optional)

Step 6: The assortment planner finalizes the product mix, indicating it is ready to be released

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 7: The system administrator releases in one step the data from SAP MAP to SAP ERP, including basic data, product procurement arrangements, and sales price specification calculations

Request Material Basic Data;
Request Product Procurement Arrangement as Bulk; Request Sales Price Specification Calculation

Step 8: In SAP ERP, the inbound services process the data automatically, creating the requested article master data

Create Material Basic Data; Create Product Procurement Arrangement as Bulk; Create Sales Price Specification Calculation

System Requirements

Related ES Bundles

SOA Homepage on SDN
Merchandise and Assortment Planning Solution Brief http://www.sap.com/industries/retail/pdf/BWP_MAP.pdf