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Managing Unique Inventory Level Experiences within xTupleCommerce

The xTupleCommerce system is built to allow the ERP manager to control a customer experience based on inventory levels of products. Products could be in one of the following states:

  • Out of Stock - no back orders allowed
  • Out of Stock - allow back orders
  • Out of Stock - customers are allowed to place back orders
  • Exclusive Item - public can see, but can’t order
  • Exclusive Item - only customers can see the item, but can’t order
  • Getting Low on Stock - allow back orders
  • Getting Low on Stock - don’t allow back orders
  • Exclusive - public can see and allow back orders
  • All published items are able to be ordered

To meet these various scenarios, we’ve designed the xTupleCommerce system to be quite flexible and give you the tools needed to create the most appropriate user experience for your audience. Later in this article we will address each of these scenarios and how to configure for them, but first, let’s discuss the various configuration tools.

Configurations on the Attributes Tab

There are various settings that can be configured for the inventory level experience. 

When modifying an item, there are a few things that can be configured within the Item Master window on the Attributes tab.

Exclusive - If checked, the item will be displayed on the site to customers, but customers can not complete the order of the item. The exclusive setting is great for when you want to market a product that isn’t ready to sell. You can create a product page to send potential customers too and they can read about the product, but they can’t place an order until you are ready.

Public Can See Exclusive Item - The Exclusive checkbox must be checked to activate this checkbox. Once this checkbox is checked the public will be able to see this product as well, but will not be able to place orders.

Accept Back Orders - If this box is checked, users will be able to place orders for this product no matter what the inventory levels are.

Display Message - If you choose to do so, you can enter a message that will be displayed in the item’s buy box on the website when the item is out of stock. The message can be broken into two sections separated by a pipe ( | ): the title and the message.

Example - “Ships in 2 weeks | This item is made on demand. It will ship within 2 weeks of the purchase date.”

Inventory Level Notifications

If particular items do not allow back orders and inventory levels are getting low, the system will not allow customers to purchase more than what is in stock.

For instance, let’s imagine that a product has 25 items remaining in stock. Back orders are not allowed for this product. When a customer visits the site, they can see the item, read about it and choose to buy it. If they enter a quantity of 25 or less the system will simply process their order. But if they attempt to enter a quantity of 26 or more, the system will notify them that they can only buy up to 25 items. 

Additionally, the ERP manager can check the Accept Backorders checkbox on the Attributes tab of the Item Master (as mentioned previously) to allow the customer to order any number of these products no matter their stock level. If that feature is enabled, no notification will appear as the user enters a quantity.

Using Pricing Schedules for Additional Configurations

In addition to using these basic configurations listed above, it is possible to flex the system into a more customer-centric experience. For instance, imagine that you have three customers types:

  • Guest Customers
  • Standard Customers
  • Long Term High Value Customers

Perhaps, in this case, you want your Long Term High Value Customers to have access to place pre-orders on exclusive items or you want to allow them to place back orders on any product. Where as the Standard Customers can only place back orders on out of stock products and the Guest customers have a limited experience of only buying what is in stock. This scenario can be configured using the pricing schedules and pricing schedule assignments. You can essentially override the settings on the Item Master for specified customer types.

Like the other areas of the ERP, this is highly customizable allowing you the opportunity to create a very unique user experience for each of the customer types.

List of Scenarios and their configurations

Below is the list of different scenarios from the beginning of this article and a brief explanation of how the ERP would be configured to meet these outcomes:

Out of Stock - no back orders allowed

Don't do anything. If all the configurations are disabled, products that are out of stock will automatically be unavailable for online purchase.

Out of Stock - allow back orders

Check the Accept Back Orders check box on the Item master.

Out of Stock - customers are allowed to place back orders

Do not check the Accept Back Orders checkbox. Instead, create a new pricing schedule associated with the appropriate product and create a pricing schedule assignment associated with the appropriate customer type.  

Exclusive Item - public can see, but can’t order

On the Attributes tab, check both the Exclusive Item and the Public can view Exclusive Items checkboxes.

Exclusive Item - only customers can see the item, but can’t order

On the Attributes tab, check the Exclusive Item checkbox. Using the pricing schedule and pricing schedule assignment tools, allow the appropriate customer types to place orders for this product.

Getting Low on Stock - allow back orders

On the Attributes tab check the Accept Backorders checkbox.

Getting Low on Stock - don’t allow back orders

Do not do anything. If all the configurations are disabled, products that are getting low on stock will automatically restrict users from buying more than what is available.

Exclusive - public can see and allow back orders

On the Attributes tab, check the Exclusive Item and the Public can view Exclusive Items checkboxes. Using the pricing schedule and pricing schedule assignment tools, allow the appropriate customer types to place orders for this product.

All published items are available to be ordered

If you want to override all of these settings and simply allow every product that is published to the web portal to be ordered, you could do so by clicking one checkbox.

  • Navigate to Inventory > Site > List. This will open the list of sites.
  • Click on the one that represents the site used for the web portal.
  • Click EDIT.
  • Check the Always post the Inventory as In Stock checkbox.

This will allow any customer (of any customer type) to place orders on any product at that site. This will override all other settings including Exclusive Items, Back Order Messages, etc.

Conclusion

Obviously, you may design even more complex inventory level scenarios, but with a little creativity, we are fairly certain you can use the existing tools to accomplish any inventory level scenarios you can imagine. 

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