As we know that effective INVENTORY MANAGEMENT AND IT means consolidating, integrating, and analyzing data collected from retail stores, warehouses and central buying houses, thus the range of computer technology tools seems limitless. The managers and executives at Buy More can make use of intelligent agents or sometimes called an expert system that can take prompt actions when required without the interactions of human beings. They can have sales reports and inventory levels from each store at the head office as one transaction takes place. These systems can also help the managers determine the consumer needs and desires regarding different electronic gadgets so that customers’ preferences could be meet at each store. In the wide array of technological solutions for the executives at Buy More, RFID Technology stands out as it can remove the problem of seasonality factor and nee of fast flow of sales figure at the moment retail transactions take place. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology would enable the management to track the location and count of inventory in real time and thus seasonality factors that cause a shortage of consumer desired appliances and electronic devices at certain stores of Buy More can easily be resolved. The Inventory management executive would hardly observe the shortage of highly demanded devices as RFID would automatically place an order as the inventory of that particular device at the store shelves—making smarter shelves. In addition, the blue-chip effect can also be reduced at certain stores and by using RFID Technology that collects real-time information on each product sale and helps the executive to take prompt decisions. Moreover, unprecedented rise and fall pattern is demand can be tracked beforehand with the help such advanced technologies of RIFD.
As Buy More is much concerned about the fast flow of information regarding sales and inventory levels at each of its stores to match the customers’ preferences, the latest tools of Business Performances management such as OLAP- Online Analytical Processing, Data mining, data warehouse, document warehouse, and BPO etc. can be utilized. These tools would enable the executive to streamline the process and collect data from each terminal at each of its store and inventory information from each of its regional warehouse and distribution center. For instance, if the sales of smartphones plunge the estimated demand at a particular store and inventory falls below a certain minimum level, through automated BPM-based inventory system the executives at Buy More store would easily check this red signal of supply re-order level quantities. In addition, if the stock of the same item also shrinks at the regional warehouse and distribution center, an automated purchase order can be placed to suppliers. BPM tools can also inform the management beforehand problems with the supply and demand chains. BPM tool would also enable Buy More to better forecast the demand of each of its consumer electronic items at each of its store in more than 50 states as this system adopts human-centric workflow automation that puts people in the center of the process. As more often the management at Buy More is concerned with the collection of distributed data about the inventory and sales and queries regarding inventory and demand match, Online Analytical tools of BPM can resolve this issue by enabling the executives to record the sale of each item at a point-of-sale terminal from every store, place order for new appliances and electronic devices when inventory of that device drops to a defined level and in addition track as the different items move from one warehouse to other and one store to another.
It’s really difficult to manage inventory in small and medium businesses, like convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores. The owners of the business will find it difficult to handle all facets of inventory management by themselves. To delegate the task to someone else is important but delegating task to the right person is very crucial. There is a need for urgency as well so that tasks can be achieved quickly that’s why there is different computerized software has been developed to solve this problem. Different software has been used by businesses to deal with the issues affecting inventory management such as asset management quality management, inventory forecasting and valuation, supply-demand assessment, and price forecasting. Here we describe the need and the benefit of an electronic store like Buy More can get from using computerized expert system solution. The benefits of implementing an expert system solution can make businesses increase productivity and efficiency. Following are the knowledge representation to abstract the features of using expert system solution:
Expert system solution allows the mechanization of key inventory management responsibilities from supply chain management to the deliverance of goods. Since tasks are automated sales processing is quick and proficient. As there is a large number of items it is very difficult to make a record of all the items at the different place so expert system solution makes it possible.
By using this expert system solution in Inventory management the work becomes much easier where we can identify different items by making their list and assigning a particular name.
Processing allows handling different types of sales and payment option quickly. It’s pre-planned structured handles discounts, gift vouchers, special orders, and record sales using multiple tender types.
Inventory management becomes more efficient because of the feature of Integration of information technology where we can use this expert system with our convenience and make changes according to our requirement.
Expert system solution allows us to categorize the customer with their buying habits. In this way it helps us to build a relationship with customers and identify their needs. When you identify the customers you can also be aware of his needs whether he is a household user or commercial user
Expert system solution gives us selective reporting and explained tracking functions that give us to assess, examine and evaluate stocks customers, sales, profit, suppliers and staff.
It can be implemented in a very easy way. But there is a need of a consultant because he can handle the situation well and in no time he can produce an expert system for you but you have to provide him all the necessary items name and also their quantity when it is made or completed you have to be trained to use it effectively. When you got enough practice of using it you have to train others to use it effectively as Buy More is a big electronic store so there will be a record of a large item of goods. One has to use it with authority to be able to use it effectively. The important thing is that the requirement of inventory will be automatically updated so it makes convenient for the purchasing department or the person dealing with purchase to order the inventory.
As expert systems such as intelligent agents can be utilized to maintain efficient and effective inventory controls at Buy More stores and warehouse and resolve any problems that can arise about the supply and demand mismatch at any of the retail stores, however these systems lack some sophisticated and accurate forecasting that can be efficiently done by using artificial neural systems. For instance, the inventory and sales of the appliances and electronic highly depend upon the occasional factors such as holidays, Christmas, Valentine days etc. thus the shortage and stocking of un-demanded items at shelves cause the huge cost to Buy More. This problem can easily be resolved by applications of neural networks. As expert system work on the basis of linear programming, they are often unable to handle such parallel processing problems of inventory and demand forecast with another factor; when the demand of certain electronic device will go up? When, the demand for a certain electronic device will go down at a particular retail store? Determine when to place an order if there is a shortage of some item at a store and predict when the Buy More’ all retail sales will go up or down so that inventory could be managed accordingly. As compared to the intelligent agent which often need reprogramming as the certain changes take place in the inventory and sales and demands, the neural network does not require this programming as they learn. Neural network would also be much beneficial for Buy More executives as they can help in handling the larger amount of complex and noisy data and various variables about the consumer preferences, seasonality, and impact of consumers’ experiences on devices demand at different stores and varying pattern of these factors at each store. We can also see that neural networks’ human-like thinking capabilities enable them to create non-linearity and create relationship among information rather than equations.
However, the application of neural network to better track the problem of effective forecasting of demand of each product at every store and managing the lean inventories faces certain deficiencies as compared to expert systems. Expert systems have an advantage over neural networks in analyzing the different patterns of demands of each item at a store and communicate the result to decision makers. Moreover, in respect to diagnoses of certain problems that may arise at different stores and warehouse, neural networks are less efficient than expert systems. Moreover, as the data collection, processes and analysis of this information increase, they cause larger neural networks that may take high processing times. In addition, expert systems have excellence over the neural networks with respect to capturing knowledge and knowledge base. The neural network is much hard to implement as compared to expert intelligent software and agents.
At present scenario, the application of artificial neural network seems novel in its technological field and we can predict huge developments in it with the passage of time, as its application increases in various fields and industries.
As the neural network is made of three layers such as an input layer, hidden layer, and output layer, which are made up of a large number of interconnected ‘nodes’, which contain activation function. The input variables that work as patterns and communicate to the hidden layer via ‘input layer’ could be different holiday occasions, consumers’ preferences, inventory levels, a distance between stores and regional warehouses. These variables are communicated to the hidden layer where actual processing takes place via a system of weighted ‘connections’. It then communicates to the output layer which displays the results that involve the variables of demand patterns, required inventory levels, shelves space etc.
Artificial intelligence is a very difficult field but also has gone old. So many technologies have been discovered over time. One of them is Intelligent/Software Agent technology.
A piece of software which acts as a user or a program in relation to an agency called as software agent in information technology. It works according to the given instructions which make it so intelligent to decide which action is to be taken and which is not.
People normally think that a computer Program and Intelligent Agent are same but in reality, it is not so because there are some functions in which Agent makes itself superior to a Program. A program is a software which is to be executed in some specific condition but an Agent uses its artificial intelligence to locate the area where the problem is arising or where it has to work on, after locating such area it fixes the problem or works for that.
Personal Agents, Buyer Agents/Bots, Data Mining Agents, and Supervisory Agents are some categories of Agents. Personal Agents find information according to user requirements; sort out mail from user accounts of a specific person (sender). Buyer Agents use its intelligence to find out required goods or services at a specific price in some specified location, according to user requirements. Data Mining Agents gather information all around the world from different Data Warehouses and then present it to the user. For example, a Data Mining Agent gets information related to stock exchange and find out the economic condition of the country by analytical analysis of variance in stock prices. Another very important category of Intelligent Agent is Supervisory Agent, which observe things and report to regulators. These type of agents used in inventory management especially, because, in such kind of operations, it observe stock level, checks it emergency level and alarm to the company to get repurchasing of stock.
Monitoring or Supervisory Agents in inventory management have a regular check on inventory and predict the repurchasing of stock, It also gives alarms to a company in case of emergency needs of inventory.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the best example to elaborate the functionality of Monitoring Agent, which is managing inventory. How it works, is that it has a monitor check on all computer connected in a network who are regulating the inventory allocation and are being regularly updated, it schedules equipment. These functions of Monitory Agent are cost effective and time efficient.
Manufacturing Companies also use Monitoring Agents to have efficient inventory management. Economic Order Quantity’s concept has given companies’ to work on its stocks, how much it needs when it needs, and in what time it needs stock. In case of emergency, it gives an alarm to regulatory authority to take action in a quick span of time. It also sends emails to relevant authority to think of that and to take action.
Buy More consists of decentralized units which also require multistage planning for inventory management. The IAS co-operate with each other to implement the gender-based algorithm for avoiding the local optimums in a large and multilateral inventory space. By using agent technology Buy More can reduce planning time, computation complexity and especially can support distribution units which enables to adapt to changes in the E-Commerce environment and coordinates to interact more efficiently.
Buy More can also use this Agent to have a check on a stock which will inform management that when, how, what and to whom the action is to b taken. Individual stores have updated information about their stocks, this Monitoring Agent will monitor all this computer-based data and after using its artificial intelligence, will suggest some action to make the company more time efficient and cost effective.
An Intelligent Agent System is used in inventory management which is done after collecting all relevant data. In case of Buy More, Agent will collect data from all individual stores (stored in their computer database) to manage to its inventory.
The functionality of Agent:
Intelligent Agent is such kind of program, have its artificial intelligence to gather data from different sources manipulate data and then perform its tasks after analyzing it with its intelligence.
Buy More’s traditional information system is collecting data from its sales, logistics, operational efficiencies (cost-effectiveness, time efficiency) customer preference etc. An agent will work on this data after collection, in such a way that it will have check on sales that how much sales are being made, which products are being sold frequently in how many time. After knowing all about it, Agent will inform that this individual store will have need of that product after how many days, weeks or months.
On working on information from logistic, Agent will inform that which product is in demand in a specified region. Feedback given by customers will also be evaluated by Agent to find out the efficiency of organization and customer preference. It will find customer preference also from daily sales data that how often a product would have been sold out over the day.
What By-Products are;
By-products are secondary or incidentally made products from the core process of making primary products.
By-Products in developing Agent in Buy More;
In developing Intelligent Agent, Company needs to have the check on inventory managed but other than it, there are also some by knowledge by-products which are being developed here. For example, for inventory management, Agent needs data of customer, its preferences, sales, logistic etc. but at the same time this data can be used for other purposes, other requirements as well.
Company can also use this data in having some other findings. Customer’s data can be used to find out its potential customers, customers type, from which it can find out its next target market.
Logistics data, collected for Inventory management, can be used to find out the regions, cities, states where products are being sold. Which types of products are being sold in some region, i.e. which type of computers is being sold out in New York? It also tells the demand of product in specific area.
Sales data is also some kind of by-product, it will be used in inventory management but it has also ability to forecast future sales. Buy More is maintaining its sales data over last ten years, data of products and as a whole. It informs management that which product has gone to its maturity and which is at its growth or decline. Either they will bring some new product or will make changes to it.
Inventory management and at same time providing data for other useful uses makes Development of Intelligent Agent less risky. Because it is one time investment, then operational cost only, while its out puts is not only Inventory Management but other very useful knowledge by-products as well.