Frequently Asked Questions

IF/SO, the Inventory Forecaster and Stock Optimizer is a PC-based, comprehensive inventory forecasting and management system specifically designed for the Direct Marketing and E-commerce industries. The following are some of the more frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our system. The answers will help you to understand who we are, and what our system can do to help you.

What is an Inventory Forecasting and Management System?

For Direct Marketers, an Inventory Management system performs five simultaneous missions:

  • Forecasts demand by item
  • Suggests purchases
  • Reduces Backorders
  • Minimizes Overstock
  • Maximizes Turns

Some of these missions can be accomplished in isolation without advanced technology, but doing all five in a manner that is optimal for customers and the business as a whole is a complex, specialized task requiring dedicated software and industrial strength computer power.

We already have a software system to take orders and manage fulfillment. That system keeps track of inventory. Why do we need another system?

Order fulfillment systems perform Inventory Tracking and Financial Control functions on inventory already recognized by the system as on hand, on order, or on backorder. IF/SO , on the other hand, is a decision support tool supplying the client with the ability to:

  • Truly optimize your inventory choices long before the goods arrive
  • Provide perspective for improved risk management
  • Suggest the staging of purchases

In the hands of trained users, the system will help you determine not only what to buy, but how to get the right quantities at the right time with the least risk exposure.

How does a tool like this work?

  • It maintains the critical balance between the Business or Circulation Plan and the Merchandise Plan.
  • It rolls up all the individual item forecasts from multiple sources of demand and delivers a daily or weekly purchase requirement based on the “least risk/ best return” criteria of your system.
  • It allows for item specific selling curves including adjustments for special occasion events, including Web events.
  • It automatically accounts for the selling variance between sizes and colors.
  • It manages multiple combinations of kits/sets.
  • It factors returns and return-to-shelf calculations into every item and promotion.

We have vendors with long lead times. How can this system help me?

Most Direct Marketers are challenged by the industry's unique mix of uncertainty and necessity – uncertainty concerning what the customers will buy, and the necessity of purchasing inventory long before sales come in. This problem has been complicated by the rise of the global economy and an increasing reliance on off-shore suppliers, with their much longer lead times. IF/SO uses statistical risk modeling to translate your specific vendor requirements and historic item selling profiles into well-timed purchase suggestions to help you determine the best mix of investment between your pre-season buy and your in-season rebuy. There is no time limit to the number of weeks/months into the future for which you can forecast and plan your needs.

What about our Website sales?

IF/SO contains a module especially designed for Ecommerce companies or catalog companies with an Ecommerce division. Our methodologies were developed in consultation with our existing clients, some of whom are among the largest Ecommerce merchandisers in the country. Web marketing is a hybrid, with some elements of a retail store, with others more like a catalog. With its established client base and industry expertise, IF/SO is well positioned to become a leader in forecast technology for the rapidly developing Ecommerce world.

What about large companies? Can a system such as IF/SO really handle their needs?

IF/SO has proven successful in companies over $1 Billion in annual sales, handling databases with over 100,000 SKUs. These environments, large as they are, have not found the upper limits of IF/SO 's capacity. With the right database design and a software architecture optimized for the inventory management mission, IF/SO has shown that an ordinary PC network, with an ordinary PC server, can indeed do the job. After all, inventory management is, like circulation and marketing analysis, an analytic desktop function. Why invest in a big system on a big machine when the desktop will do?

What about small companies? Can we afford it?

IFSO OnDemand is designed specifically with smaller direct commerce companies. We believe that any direct marketer of more than $10 million in sales can justify an investment in IF/SO. Companies under $10 million may also find that the base IF/SO system is economical, particularly when kits, seasonality, or colors and sizes are involved. IFSO OnDemand, requires no investment in software or hardware. A low monthly subscription fee provides the same exceptional value as our enterprise solution.

Forerunner Systems is committed to serving the whole industry, from the largest companies to the smallest. No company should assume it is too small or too large for IF/SO.