Introducing Assortment Management

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Introduce Assortment Management
  • Describe the meaning of listing
  • Outline the layout workbench
  • Generate an assortment list

Assortment Management and Layout Workbench

Assortment Management comprises several functions and activities, such as creating assortments, and executing the article listing. An important aspect for many retailers is the implementation of shelf optimization tools, which is supported in SAP Retail through the Layout Workbench. Finally, the article data has to be provided to the individual store systems (POS), usually through the assortment list function.

Assortment Management is a key application in SAP Retail, which is used to assign articles to sites by creating the relevant article listing conditions in the assortment(s) of a site. Assortments can be connected with layout data, which are used to define the exact placement of articles in the retailer’s stores.

When you create a site (that is, a store or distribution center), the system automatically creates a local assortment exclusively for this site in the background. This local assortment is site-specific and cannot be assigned to another site. Each site has one local assortment.

These assortments are of category A for stores, and of category B for distribution centers. The technical key of these local assortments is the same as the customer number of the respective site.

General assortments of category C can be assigned to any number of (SD) customers, and there can also be several assignments per sales area. You can also assign general assortments to any number of stores and distribution centers if you have selected the multiple assignment indicator in Customizing.

Note

Advantage of using general assortments for sites:

Assortments can be defined, which are valid for groups of sites, for example, to reflect regional or seasonal assortments. Moreover, when new sites are created, they only have to be assigned to the relevant assortments in order to define their range of available products. Furthermore, as a side-effect, the number of article listing conditions in the system can be reduced a lot compared to using local assortments only.

General assortments can be created manually in the SAP Retail system, or created in the planning tool, based on algorithms for store clustering according to multiple attributes - for example, sales history, margin, revenue. Customer-specific attributes can be used as well.

As soon as a planned, general assortment or its dependent objects are released in planning, general assortments, along with layout modules, can be created automatically in SAP Retail via interface, based on customizing settings.

Assignments of stores (sites) to general assortments (assortment users) are also copied from planning.

You can also already assign articles to the layout module versions (these are explained further below) in planning. This requires that article data is available and complete at an early stage, which is usually the case for merchandise, which can be replenished regularly.

In the assortment maintenance transactions (create/change/display assortment), you can assign merchandise categories and assortment grades, layout data, or an article hierarchy with the relevant hierarchy node. The validity period and the distribution chain are mandatory assignments.

You can also assign assortment users to general assortments in assortment maintenance.

Additionally, a user-friendly assortment assignment tool is available for this purpose. The system displays two tree structures: a list of the selected general assortments with their already assigned sites on the left, and a list of sites for which assignments are still possible on the right. You can sort the displayed sites, for example, by region, by sites not yet assigned, or by new sites. The selected sites are assigned to the desired assortment using drag and drop. However, you can only assign sites in the assortment assignment tool; customers are assigned in the assortment maintenance transactions (create/change assortment) only. Sites can be assigned in both.

You can also branch to the assortment maintenance transactions (create/change/display assortment) from the assortment assignment tool.

Meaning of Listing

An assortment is an SAP Retail object to which articles are assigned, or listed, for a particular validity period. The listing conditions created for an assortment are only valid for the assigned assortment users. For a local assortment (category A, B), this is the respective site only. For general assortments (category C), these are the assigned assortment users (sites, customers).

In addition to the individual assignment of assortment users to general assortment(s), you can also first define reference sites, and then assign a number of sites to this reference site. This allows you to group sites for assortment management purposes. For example, the reference sites could be set up by region and/or store size aspects. Usually, one site has to be assigned to several general assortments, so the grouping under a reference site helps reducing the workload: you then only have to assign the reference site to the general assortments, instead of assigning all sites individually. A duplicate assignment of a site to a specific general assortment is not possible (that is, to assign a site through the reference site and also directly). However, you can assign a site directly to one general assortment, and through its reference site to another one. The reference site concept is only available for sites, not for customers.

It is advisable to use reference sites if several sites should have the same assortment assignments.

Only when a valid listing condition exists, an article is available for the site for all logistics functions (planning, ordering, receiving, selling, and so on). Articles can be assigned to, or listed for the assortments automatically using various functions, such as the article maintenance, individual article listing, mass listing functions, layout workbench, and so on. Listing procedures are available for this automatic assignment. They define which checks the system applies when assigning articles to assortments (and thus to stores, customers, or distribution centers that use these assortments). This gives you a high degree of flexibility in assortment management.

Basic Listing Procedures help the users in rule-based listing (automatic listing) to identify the suitable assortments for an article. For example, frozen food articles should only be listed in sites with a freezer.

Three basic listing procedures are available in the SAP Retail System:

The B1: basic procedure mdse cat./assortment grade checks whether the article's merchandise category has been assigned to the assortment. Only then the article will be listed for this assortment. In any case, the merchandise category check alone can be too general. For example, both small and large stores of the same store chain carry dairy products (all created in the dairy merchandise category). But the small stores should only offer some basic dairy articles, whereas the large stores should offer a wider range of these articles. Therefore, an additional check for assortment grades can be used with the basic procedure B1. An assortment grade can be assigned to an article (in the listing view), and to an assortment (together with the merchandise category).

The B2: basic procedure classification check examines whether the classifying parameters of the article (characteristics and their values) correspond to those of the assortment. Only then will the article be listed for this assortment.

The B3: basic procedure layout check evaluates the following:

  • Whether the article is assigned to a layout module, and
  • whether the assortment or site is linked to a layout containing the article's layout module, or
  • whether the assortment is linked to the article's layout module directly

Only under these conditions will the article be listed for the assortment in question. It is also possible to combine the listing procedures, or define own rules.

The previous figure, Category Management - Example, shows that in this case, the store size is the main criterion to define assortments. There are small, medium, and large stores. Therefore, three assortments are created. These assortments carry the sweets - chocolate articles. As the available chocolate flavors change by season, the assortments are connected with the layout concept to easily reflect the seasonality: for each assortment, a layout module exists. Articles are assigned to layout modules using layout module versions, which are period-specific. That is, with a unique start and end date, so the periods can not overlap. In that way, the assortments for example hold the yogurt-lemon, or yogurt-strawberry flavor chocolates in the summer period, and the apple-cinnamon, or orange-ginger flavor chocolates in winter time. The layout concept is also used to connect shelf optimization tools, to define the exact article placements.

How to connect the general assortment with the layout concept:

You can define, that the system automatically creates a layout module in the background, when a general assortment is created. Alternatively, it is also possible to assign a layout, or a layout module manually to a general assortment. In that way, the assortment and layout functions are tightly connected.

Layout Workbench

The Layout Workbench is the central access platform to all the functions for shelf optimization and layout. If accessed by selecting a site or an assortment, the assigned layout and layout modules and their versions are displayed, and it is possible to execute listing.

The layout workbench can also be accessed selecting an individual layout module. In this case, the available layout module versions are displayed, and you can assign articles, and adjust the existing article assignments. A mass selection option is available to assign a large number of articles to a layout module in one step. It is also possible to execute listing, and to maintain layout module variants, which are local article assignment deviations in a layout version. Variants are for example used to replace an article by a local specialty product. If you use fixtures, the system also displays the fixtures that are assigned to a layout module version, and you can assign fixtures. Fixtures are master data, for example representing shelves, gondolas, baskets, and so on. If the layout module versions have been assigned planogram files from a shelf optimization system, these are also displayed.

You can access an external shelf optimization program from the Layout Workbench, but you can also use the layout workbench for planning purposes (manual article placement, listing) without using the shelf optimization interface.

Assortment Module Management

Specifically for the public cloud edition, a new assortment concept, the Assortment Module Management, was introduced. In SAP Retail (on premise / private cloud), it can be used instead of the classic assortment management, or, for example, in parallel for a transition time. Several SAP Fiori apps are available for Assortment Module Management. For example, you can create new assortment modules with the app Manage Assortment Modules. Each assortment module has at least one version, which has a validity period. This means, versions are used to determine the range of articles assigned to the assortment module for a given period, to reflect for example seasonal changes of merchandise. Additionally, assortment users can be assigned with this app. On the other hand, in order to assign a store to one or more assortment modules, you can use the Assign Store to Assortment Modules app.

Articles can be assigned to assortment modules via the Assign Product to Assortment Modules app. The Assign Products to Distribution Centers app allows you to assign articles to the relevant supplying sites.

With the Postprocess Assortments app, you can schedule and monitor the generation of missing listing conditions and site-specific product master data, for example when an error in posting occurred for article-site specific data. There are APIs (OData services) for Assortment Module Management to integrate external applications with SAP S/4HANA.

Note

The Assortment Module Management solution creates listing conditions (table WLK1) for the local assortments of stores and DCs in SAP S/4HANA in order to integrate with all the applications which rely on these WLK1 table entries, such as POS outbound.

Assortment List

An assortment list provides the stores with an overview of all listed articles. This is true for a full version of an assortment list. With a change version, the store only receives information on changes to the assortment, for example, about new or discontinued articles, price changes, promotional articles. For each article, it at least contains the relevant data for sales at the point of sale (POS) system.

The assortment list type is used to group the articles for the assortment list. For each assortment list type, you determine the frequency in which new assortment lists are generated, and how often change versions are due before a new full version is created. An assortment list type is assigned to an article in the Basic Data view. Thus, a store may receive several assortment lists.

An assortment list profile, in combination with an assortment list type, is used to define the contents and structure of the assortment list. For example you can determine, which (additional) data for an article is to be included, such as supply source information, and how the articles are sorted. An assortment list profile is assigned to a site.

Assortment lists can be configured for every situation and assortment and they can be prepared in different media, for example in paper form, as an e-mail, and of course as an electronic file (SAP Intermediate Document: IDoc) sent to a store retailing system, or to a POS system.

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