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The purpose of this page is to provide a short overview on retail specific data maintenance and pointing at the main differences between material and article. 


In the following you check the main differences between a material and an article through organizational levels, article categories, views and generic articles and it's variants.

Organizational levels

In contrast to the organizational structure of a manufacturing company, in trading companies there is one more organizational level: the distribution centers. They are lying in the organizational structure between purchasing and the stores.

See also example at SAP Help site.

Technically, distribution centers as well as stores are sites (plants) in table T001W. They can be distinguished by the flag 'Plant category'. Possible values are:

  • A Stores
  • B Distribution Centers
  • Initial Standard Plant

Stores and distribution centers are maintained by transactions WB01, WB02, WB03. Plant profiles are maintained in Customizing at ‚Logistics-General' - ‚Plant Master' - 'Control Data' - 'Plant Profiles'.

Article Category

The article type (MARA-ATTYP) determines fundamentally, how the article will be stored on database and how it will react. Essentially the following values are possible:

  • Single material (industry) (MARA-ATTYP initial): ‚Standard'-Materials of non-Retail systems, created for instance by MM01.
  • Single article (MARA-ATTYP = 00): Individually created articles similar to standard-materials.
  • Generic article (MARA-ATTYP = 01): Generic articles do not exist physically and are not sold, but do only exist as a data reference for variants.
  • Variants (MARA-ATTYP = 02): Article of the kind of the generic article, but with special characteristic values. To the generic article 'shirt' for example, one can have the variant: shirt, white, size XL'.
  • Sales Set (MARA-ATTYP = 10): A set is a combination of several articles which are bought individually and sold together, for example a bottle of wine together with two wineglasses. The components are been deposit in the basic data view at the button 'components'. Technically, a set is handled like a BOM and stored in BOM database tables. You should not maintain a set by BOM transactions, however.
  • Prepack (MARA-ATTYP = 11): A lot is a collection of different articles that are bought together and sold individually, thus more or less the opposite of a set. Shoes would be a good example: They are bought als a collection of shoes with different sizes (for example one of size 39 three of size 40 ... two of size 45 etc.). Prepack allocation plans are maintained in transaction WSTN11. From the technical point of view, prepacks are also plant-independant BOMs.
  • Display (MARA-ATTYP = 12): A Display is a collection of articles which are, similar to prepack, bought together and sold individually, including special packaging. An example would be at Christmas time the paper figure of Santa Claus, holding different types of chocolate: the manufacturer delivers the whole figure, the store sells the individual chocolates. Again, this is technically a BOM.
  • Material group article (MARA-ATTYP = 20)
  • Hierarchy article (MARA-ATTYP = 21)
  • Group material (MARA-ATTYP = 22)
  • Material group reference article (MARA-ATTYP = 30)

Article Master

In retail, articles are the equivalent to the material master in standard. For article maintenance, there are the following transactions:

  • MM41 - create article
  • MM42 - change article
  • MM43 - display article
  • MM44 - display changes
  • MM46 - mass maintenance retail

Essentially, the article maintenance transactions are the material master transactions with screen sequence 23.

For background processing of article data, there is BAPI_MATERIAL_MAINTAINDATA_RT.

For ALE, There is message type ARTMAS. Essentially, this is a modified MATMAS with some retail specialties and classification data. Single ARTMAS-Messages just like the MATMAS ones are sent by transaction BD10.

The data of the article master are stored in the same database tables as for material master with a few extra tables. See article master tables.

In contrast to material master, in article maintenance no administrative data (tables MSTA and MOFF) is written due to the huge amount of data.

In a ‚standard' article master, there are four different main views:

  • Basic data: This view is essentially the basic data view of material master, added by some special retail data on client level (Table MARA).
  • Listing: since retail customers normally have many sites (DCs or stores, table MARC), site related views are not always created individually, but by a mass process called 'Listing'.
  • Purchasing: This view is basically the purchasing info record (table EINA), which has been integrated into the article master maintenance for easier handling. If you jump from the purchasing view to 'Additional data' - 'Additional EANs', you can maintain vendor specific EANs. These are stored on table MLEA (instead MEAN, as for the 'normal' EANs).
  • Sales: Distribution channel specific data (table MVKE). Prices in the sales view are determined by a special Retail Revenue Management process. This can be analysed via transaction VKP5.
  • Logistics DC: Logistic data for distribution centers as well as access buttons to MRP data, Forecasting data, QM data etc. (table MARC)
  • Logistics Store: Logistic data for stores centers as well as access buttons to other stores specific areas. (table MARC)
  • POS: Point-of-Sale data, mainly till receipt texts. (table MAMT with Text-ID 02 and able WLK2)
  • Additional data, Layouts: Besides the additional data already known from material master and the already mentioned vendor specific EANs, there are also Layout Modules (Grouping of materials for the purpose of assortment management, normally embodying the shelf in the store). Layouts are stored in table MALG.

Generic Articles and Variants

Variants are similar articles which are only distinguishable by certain, well-defined characteristics. For example shirts only distinguish by the characteristics size, color and the length of the arm. The characteristics are either deposit in the merchandizing category or a characteristic profile.

Important is here that the characteristics are marked as 'relevant for variants' (Relevancy indicator KSLM-RELEV = 2). The effect of a relevancy indicator 'For info only' (KSLM-RELEV=1) would be that the characteristic works just as a 'normal' characteristic in classification. In addition, there is the relevancy indicator 3 (Logistics Unit of Measure).

If you create a generic article in transaction MM41, you first get to a screen where you can restrict which characteristic values will be relevant for the formation of variants from this generic article. Afterwards you get to a screen where you can select directly the variants, or their valuations respectively. This selection can, according to the number of characteristics involved, also be multidimensional.

After storing, not only the generic article but also its variants are created. Later, when changing in transaction MM42, the functionalities of restricting values and choosing variants are accessible by the buttons 'Characteristic values' and 'Variants' on the basic data screen.

The short text is normally created from the short text of the generic article and the descriptions of the values for the characteristics defining the variant.

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