The distribution of inventory across various retail locations or channels based on factors such as demand, store size, and historical sales performance.

What is Allocation?

Allocation involves distributing inventory to specific stores based on customer demand and store characteristics. It ensures that each store has the right products in the right quantities. Key points include analysing demand, planning assortments, setting allocation parameters, executing allocation plans, and monitoring performance. Effective allocation improves stock availability, sales potential, and operational efficiency in retail.

How Allocation works

  • Demand Analysis: Retailers analyse customer demand based on historical sales data, market trends, and other factors. This helps determine which products are in high demand and which stores require replenishment.

  • Assortment Planning: Retailers plan the assortment of products to be allocated to each store based on factors such as store size, location, customer demographics, and sales potential. This ensures that the right mix of products is available in each store.

  • Allocation Parameters: Retailers establish allocation parameters that guide the distribution of inventory. These parameters consider factors like store capacity, minimum and maximum stock levels, sales targets, and seasonal variations. They help optimise inventory distribution across stores.

  • Execution: Once allocation parameters are set, retailers execute the allocation plan by physically distributing the inventory to individual stores. This can involve manual or automated processes, depending on the size and complexity of the retailer's operations.

  • Performance Monitoring: Retailers continuously monitor the performance of allocated inventory. They track sales, stock levels, customer feedback, and other metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the allocation strategy. This allows for adjustments and improvements to be made as needed.
By following these steps, retailers ensure that inventory is distributed efficiently, minimising stockouts and maximising sales potential in each store.

Pros of Allocation

  1. Optimal Inventory Distribution: Allocation helps retailers distribute inventory efficiently across multiple stores or locations. By analysing demand and considering various factors, retailers can ensure that the right products are available in the right quantities at each store. This helps minimise stockouts and overstock situations, leading to improved customer satisfaction and increased sales.
  2. Store-Specific Assortments: Allocation allows retailers to tailor their product assortments to meet the unique needs and preferences of each store's customer base. By considering factors such as location, demographics, and local market trends, retailers can optimise the assortment of products available in each store. This increases the likelihood of meeting customer demands and boosts sales potential.
  3. Improved Inventory Turnover: Effective allocation helps improve inventory turnover rates. By distributing inventory based on demand patterns and sales potential, retailers can reduce excess inventory and avoid stock obsolescence. This leads to a more efficient use of working capital and helps maintain healthier profit margins.

Cons of Allocation

  1. Inaccurate Demand Forecasting: Allocation relies heavily on accurate demand forecasting to distribute inventory effectively. However, inaccurate or unreliable demand forecasts can lead to misallocation of products, resulting in stockouts or overstock situations. This can negatively impact customer satisfaction, sales performance, and profitability.
  2. Operational Complexity: Implementing allocation processes can introduce additional complexity to retail operations. It requires effective coordination between various teams, such as merchandising, inventory management, and logistics, to ensure the timely and accurate distribution of products. Managing allocation across multiple stores or locations can be challenging and may require dedicated resources and technology solutions.
  3. Lack of Flexibility: Allocation decisions are often based on historical data, trends, and predetermined rules. While this helps in optimising inventory distribution, it may lack flexibility to respond quickly to changing market conditions, customer preferences, or unexpected events. Retailers may face challenges in reallocating inventory to address emerging demand patterns or unforeseen circumstances.


Below you will find answers to common questions
How can I determine the appropriate allocation quantities for each store or location?
Determining allocation quantities requires considering various factors such as historical sales data, store size, customer demographics, and market demand. It is essential to analyse past performance, identify top-selling products, and allocate inventory proportionally based on each store's potential. Additionally, utilising advanced inventory planning and allocation tools can help automate the process and optimise allocation quantities based on predefined rules and algorithms.
How can I ensure fair and equitable allocation across multiple stores or regions?
Achieving fair and equitable allocation is important to maintain consistency and ensure customer satisfaction. One approach is to establish allocation criteria based on sales performance, customer demand, and store-specific factors. By setting clear guidelines and rules for allocation, retailers can ensure that inventory is distributed fairly across different locations. Additionally, periodic review and adjustment of allocation parameters based on store performance and market dynamics can help maintain a balanced allocation approach.