True Fact #3
In Store has the most powerful ordering tools.
you spend an eternity fussing with getting an order just right, then
discover you overlooked something? Or double ordered? Or having to return
most of what you ordered? Books In Store has an ordering tool kit
with literally hundreds of specialized instruments. While this monograph
does not pretend to exhaust the techniques available, we hope it
demonstrates the power of Books In Store.
Each purchase order begins with a prologue. In the
prologue you set the purchase order's number, the company to receive it,
whether to backorder, and, if so, how many days to keep the backorder open.
Other information includes shipping method, special instructions, and the
like. This is the mundane information every purchase order must have.
Manual entry is the trivial case for purchase order
creation. In a manual entry purchase order you specify each book you want
and the quantity desired. You continue adding items and quantities until you
exhaust your shopping list. Of course, you never have to type a title or a
To have Books In Store create a recommended order,
you specify (up to) five parameters:
Which books to interrogate,
Window type (month or week),
Which set of books to interrogate can be those
from a single publisher or a more complicated collection which we will
cover later. For this example, let us assume we are interested in a
recommended order to Putnam. For Putnam, we supply the vendor's
Specify "Window type" next. A window is
the interval through which Books In Store evaluates your sales
history to calculate demand. Specifying a window type of "Month," along
with a window size (below) of "3," tells the program that you want to
order sufficient copies of each Putnam title to bring your on-hand count
up to a three-month supply. A window type of "Week" performs the same
logic but uses the weekly sales history instead.
How many months (or weeks) supply of each
title is desired.
Your choices are: "Prior," "Next," or "Both."
"Prior" checks only the preceding months' or weeks' sales; "Next" checks
the upcoming months' anticipated sales (basic on the same months' sales
from last year), and "Both" checks in both directions. "Prior" works best
for bestsellers. "Next" works well for seasonal books. "Both" is
appropriate for backlist.
Multiplier is a "fudge-factor." After the
program determines the optimum quantity to order, the program then
multiplies that calculated quantity by the value in this field. Uses for
"multiplier" include dealing with very small sales. For example, suppose
you wanted a one-month supply, but wanted the demand averaged over the
last three months. Use a window of three months and a multiplier of 0.33.
Another use to account for growth. Suppose your store is growing by 20%
each year. Use a multiplier of 1.20.
After specifying the above parameters, the
program thinks for a few seconds (less than a minute) and provides a list
of Putnam titles, along with a recommended quantity to order. The program
calculates the order quantity for each title based solely on the demand.
Obviously, the quantity recommended may change from month-to-month (or
week-to-week), depending on historical sales and the book's on-hand or
But a recommended order is just a suggestion. Jus as you
supervise an employee, you check the program's work product by reviewing the
order. Books In Store does not know that the fifty copies you sold
yesterday were because of an author appearance; the program - call it silly
- will suggest you order fifty more! The program does not know of an
impending interview on Good Morning, America or the imminent release
in paperback. The program knows even less about frontlist. Your expertise as
a bookseller provides the finishing touch. What the program does, however,
is to compress 30,000 possible buying decisions (your whole inventory) down
to 200 (from Putnam) in a few seconds. Then the program winnows out the 150
titles of which you have ample stock. You end up with fifty titles for
review. Fifty titles is manageable; 30,000 is not.
In the case above, we asked the program to look at a
single publisher. The program has several other lenses through which it can
interrogate collections of books. Some of the more popular are listed below.
Here you ask the program to visit each book
sold since your last order, ascertaining whether the sale resulted in a
need to reorder. After all, if the book did not sell, you do not need any
more (unless you do not have any at all, but that is a separate issue).
This technique compresses 30,000 possible buying decisions down to the
three hundred titles sold yesterday. Of those three hundred titles, maybe
100 need reordering.
Checking the TBOs directs the program to
gather all the titles individually marked as "To Be Ordered." Books with a
non-zero TBO were usually so marked when added to the database from
publisher catalogs or when added as special orders.
You may direct the program to look at (or
order) those titles discovered using the sophisticated selection logic
built in to New Standard's filters. For example, you might want to check
all books with a Halloween theme, all books in French, all spiral-bound
cookbooks, all books with a retail price greater than $30.00 whose on-hand
count is less than six, all art books from Simon & Schuster, or whatever.
If a competing system offers recommended ordering at all, the system almost
always uses the min-max system (or its sibling: minimum-stock-point,
reorder-quantity) for calculated the suggested order quantity. Be clear on
Min-max works for pickles,
it does not work for books!
min-max technique operates as follows: a title sells until it reaches a
pre-set quantity (min). This triggers an order to bring the inventory up to
another pre-defined quantity (max). The principle reason min-max cannot be
used in the book business is that books sales are cyclical. Bestsellers
start with a bang and taper to a whimper. The demand for seasonal books
slowly rises then crashes to zero overnight. Even backlist has peaks and
valleys, for example, as kids start a school semester or a holiday
Promoters of min-max challenge that the "min" quantity can be adjusted to
reflect the season. But who wants to adjust 2,000 different records every
month? No, the realities are that min-max is unsuitable for the book
business and those that have it don't use it.
After the order is created
After you create an order in the Books In Store system, there are
several things you can do.
Print it - You can print the order and mail it away. Or you can give the
printed copy to the publisher's sales representative. Anything you could do
with a typed order, you can do with a printed order. Books In Store
actually prints two different renditions of the order: An "Inside copy" and
an "Outside copy." The inside copy contains dramatically more information
about each book (sales history, etc.) than the outside copy. You retain the
inside copy to use as a receiving document.
Fax the order - Books In Store reformats the order in a form
suitable for access by your computer's fax software. Since virtually every
vendor has a fax machine, you can effectively eliminate the two-to-seven day
delay that comes with mailing (faxing is also cheaper than a stamp).
Electronically transmit the order - Books In Store communicates
electronically with more vendors than any other system. National wholesalers
(Ingram, and Baker & Taylor), all regional wholesalers (Bookpeople,
Bookazine, Koen's, BookSource, and more), specialty wholesalers (Spring
Arbor, New Leaf, Riverside, Majors Scientific, and others), and every
publisher capable of accepting electronic order (Harper-Collins, Simon &
Schuster, Viking, Random House, and others).
Set it aside - Perhaps you cannot meet order minimums or you were merely
interested in what the cost to stock-up might be. In these (and other)
cases, you may simply discard your work. Remember, the project took less
than five minutes.
Booksellers spend more time than necessary fretting over purchase
orders. We at Books In Store know this because all of us are booksellers.
Having the right tools, powerful tools, comprehensive tools, tools that
yield proper results with minimum work, is an absolute requirement for an
inventory system. Anything else wastes even more of your time.