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Master Data in SAP for Retail: Accurate, Reliable and Timely

Master data is crucial as the foundation for all operational processes in all areas of SAP for Retail. Accurate, reliable and timely information that integrates core business processes across multiple channels is needed everywhere. The assortment of articles, business partners, and the retail companies structure with its branches, warehouses, stores, and other sales channels, are all built on master data. The relationship between the company and its vendors is also recorded in master data as is the basic data for identifying articles.

Key Master Data Objects and Features

Below is a list of the key master data objects and their features. Click the object name for further detailed information.




Target in SAP Library - SAP for Retail

Organizational structure


The organizational structure offers the possibility to maintain the legal and the internal structure of a company.

Organizational Structure



A business partner from whom goods or services can be ordered. In retail companies the term vendor can have a similar expression such as supplier. In the following, the term vendor is used.

Business Partner Master Data → Vendor



A business partner with whom a business relationship exists, involving the issue of goods or services.



  • Distribution Center 
  • Store 
  • Department / Shop Concept
  • Distrubtion center enables other sites and/or customers to be supplied with goods.
  • Store is a location in which goods are put on sale to the consumer.
  • Department/shop concept offers the possibility to treat the existing departments in a store as standalone units. The departments have to be defined as shops, and the store site category as a department store. In this context, the department store represents the organizational grouping of individual shops.

Site Master Data



In Retail Companies the term item can have similar expressions like article, products, material, styles, sku, etc. In the following the term item is used.

Article Master Data


  • Article Hierarchy
  • Merchandise Category Hierarchy

The two hierarchies offer the possibility to group articles.

Grouping Articles

Assortment Management


Assortment management in this document is identical with listing. Listing means the assignment of articles to the assortment.


Business Partner


Optional way to maintain customer and vendor data in one transaction.

Business Partner Master Data

Key Master Data Objects and Features in Detail

Organizational Structure

Organizational Structure



  • Company Code - An independent accounting unit that represents an independent company in the legal sense. It is the central organizational element in Financial Accounting.


  • Purchasing Organization - Procures articles for multiple sites and negotiates purchasing conditions with the vendors.
  • Purchase Group - Contains one or more purchasers in the sense of a purchasing department. Purchasing groups are responsible for the maintenance of master data and control parameters as well as the operational processing of purchasing. Authorizations can be assigned for each purchasing group.
  • Purchasing Area - Can be used as a connection between purchasing organization and purchasing group. A purchasing group can only be assigned to one purchasing area in a purchasing organization.


  • Sales Organization - Stands for a selling unit in the legal sense. Sales transactions are always processed within a sales organization.
  • Distribution Channel - Means through which items reach the customer, e.g. retail trade, wholesales, direct sales.
  • Distribution Chain - Combination of a sales organization and a distribution channel. The distribution chain is used for reporting and pricing.
  • Division - Represents a product line. A division must be defined, although SAP Retail does not make use of it for retailing functions
  • Sales Area - The combination of distribution channel and division creates a sales area.

Valuation/Inventory Management

  • Valuation Area - Organizational unit in logistics subdividing an enterprise for the purpose of uniform and complete valuation of item stocks. In retail valuation area, it needs to correspond to a site. 
  • Inventory Management without Warehouse Management - To control goods flow within an enterprise it is necessary to maintain items stocks in a system. Quantity base stock keeping is done at the level of storage location.
  • Inventory Management with Warehouse Management - For complex distribution centers the warehouse management system allows visibility of stocks at the level of storage bins.

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A vendor is a business partner from whom goods and services can be procured. The following types of vendors can be distinguished:

  • Internal Vendor - When sites carry out vendor functions, they provide goods for other customers or sites. Additional to site master data vendor master data are created, too. Normally only distribution centers are maintained as internal vendors.
  • External Vendor

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A customer is a business partner with whom you exchange goods and services. The following types of customers can be distinguished:

  • Internal Customer - When sites carry out customer functions, they receive goods or services from external vendors or other sites. Additional to the site master customer master data are created, too.
  • External Customer

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A site is an organizational unit used to document goods stored in distribution centers and stores for the purposes of inventory management, and to model the associated business processes, such as goods receipt, physical inventory and goods issue. There are two types of sites:

  • Distribution Center - Enables other sites and/or customers to be supplied with goods
  • Store - Location in which goods are put on sale to the consumer

Department Shop Concept
The target groups are retail companies that want to perform detailed inventory management, e.g. the existing departments in a store should be treated in as standalone units. The departments have to be defined as Shops, and the store as Department Store.

  • Department store - Organizational unit that unifies the various goods groups of the company under one umbrella. The department store has no inventory-managing character for goods that are intended for the consumer.
  • Shop - Shop is a grouping of goods of various article groups that ought to be presented to the consumer in a consistent overall picture. The shop is part of a department store.
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Item Management

  • Solution Map for Retail (Merchandise LifecycleItem Management) - This business scenario supports various functions for creating and maintaining items with all business related attributes needed in your company. It includes also all discontinuation-related functions to remove items from assortments.

The following processes contribute to the Item Management scenario:

  • Global Data Synchronization (PRICAT - Inbound) - The item inbound process offers import functionality and mass adoption of item data where the item data comes from external data pools or from suppliers (peer-to-peer scenario). Efficient maintenance is of major importance for retailers because of high data volumes.
  • Item Introduction - This process contains various functions for creating items with all business-related attributes needed in your company. This includes functions to create and change item data.
  • Item Mass Maintenance - Item Mass Maintenance process contains various functions for maintaining several item data in one step.
  • Item Discontinuation - Item Discontinuation process contains various functions to exclude items from the assortment of your company as of a certain date, for example, if you no longer sell certain items or if they can no longer be delivered.

Additional Documentation for Item Management

  • Master Guide for SAP for Retail Business Suite 2007- (Assortment on page 15, Category Business Planning on page 18, Chainwide Inventory Management on page 20, Item Management on page 30) (SMP credentials required).
  • Article Master Data of ERP Retail - Deep dive into some secrets. This article gives a short introduction into the overall "Integrated Article Master". It is not another kind of help documentation, but a deep dive into the architecture, process flow and influence factors. It will show you the idea behind mass data processing, reference handling, inherit and copy handling, performance influence factors and some best practices to avoid critical situations.
  • Structured Article maintenance in SAP ERP- This article gives some basic information about the maintenance of structured articles in SAP ERP and hints on where to find more information.
  • EAN/GTIN (European Article Number/ Global Trade Item Number) - This document gives you an overview about the capabilities of SAP to handle EAN/GTIN. It is not another type of help documentation, but a deep dive into the architecture, process flow and influence factors. It will give you tips and tricks about customizing, number ranges, additional external knowledge sources and a kind of trouble shooting guide.
  • Article Master Data - mass creation for testing - Learn from this blog the easiest way to create 300 fresh articles. Ever asked yourself what RWRFMATCOPY stands for? Read on and learn how to use it.
  • Blog - Angry about the ugly product hierarchy in SD screens - Learn very quickly how to switch from "usual" product hierarchy navigation to tree navigation. 

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Merchandise Category Hierarchy

Each article has to be assigned to only one merchandise category. Merchandise categories can be grouped into merchandise category hierarchy levels. Merchandise category hierarchy levels can, in turn, be assigned to higher hierarchy levels. The result is a merchandise category hierarchy. This allows you to classify and structure the entire range of goods offered for sale by your company (breadth and depth).

Article Hierarchy

An Article Hierarchy can be used to hold any given hierarchical article grouping e.g. a combination of articles in groups from a sales perspective.
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Assortment Management

An assortment is an object to which articles are assigned for a specific time frame (validity period), so that they can be managed in distribution centers or stores or for customers. The following types of assortment are available:

  • Local Assortments - When a site (store or distribution center) is created, the system automatically creates a local assortment which it then assigns to the site. This local assortment is site-specific and cannot be assigned to any other site. Each site has exactly one local assortment.
  • General Assortments - General Assortments are created manually. General assortments can be assigned to any number of customers, stores and distribution center. By this a significant reduction of data volumes of listing conditions and an increased performance of listing procedures it can be achieved.

The assignment of the individual articles to assortments is recorded in what are called listing conditions. These listing conditions determine which articles can be bought and/or sold for each store. Listing procedures determine how the system checks the assignment of articles to assortments.

Additional Documentation for Assortment Management

  • Category Management - Are best practices possible?  Read this blog by Dieter Becker to gain more insight about category management.

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Business Partner

This is of prime interest if a business partner plays different roles for a company, such as vendor and customer. It is possible to create and manage the business partners centrally for different business transactions. Example address and bank data are only created once in a system.

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  • SAP IRT 310 Master Data in SAP for Retail (SMP credentials required)

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Related Topics

Run SAP for Retail - Best Practices for Solution Operation

For retailer's global end-to-end solutions with typically high data volumes, an optimized operational concept is key for lowering operating costs, proactively avoiding incidents, ensuring a stable system performance and enabling growth and innovation. "Run SAP for Retail" provides Best Practices for Solution Operations helping you to set up an operational concept for Retail solutions. Find more information, go to Run SAP for Retail

  • Data Volume Management for SAP Retail wiki page (SMP credentials required) - This document describes main retail business processes and their contribution to data growth in a retail environment. As data volume management strategies, it contains specific possibilities of data avoidance, summarisation, deletion and archiving. This also refers to master data.  

Direct Store Delivery for Retail

Direct Store Delivery for Retail is a business process to sell and distribute goods via distributors directly to the retailer's store, typically bypassing the retailer's warehouses. The manufacturer determines the regional coverage responsibilities of the concerned distributors, the direct business relationships exist between the retailer and the distributors which act as vendors.

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