Retail Supply Chain Management

Volume 223 of the series International Series in Operations Research & Management Science pp 53-77

The Role of Execution in Managing Product Availability

  • Nicole DeHoratiusAffiliated withBooth School of Business, University of Chicago Email author 
  • , Zeynep TonAffiliated withMIT Sloan School of Management

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This chapter explores two common problems faced by retailers, namely inventory record inaccuracy and misplaced products. These problems have substantial implications for retail performance. We find these two problems compromise the ability of a retailer to meet target service levels. Moreover, they cause a distortion in the sales and inventory data used by retailers’ automatic decision support tools. We describe the drivers of these problems and highlight existing research in this domain. More importantly, we identify the need for additional empirical research – both field based and experimental – and note analytical approaches that could benefit from the incorporation of execution problems (e.g., demand forecasting, inventory planning, and assortment choice). As retailers move to serve their customers from multiple channels and provide transparent inventory information to end-consumers, the incentive to eliminate problems such as inventory record inaccuracy and misplace products grows. This chapter helps academics and practitioners alike understand these two problems and offers insight on a variety of approaches to mitigate their negative consequences.


Inventory control Retailing Inventory record inaccuracy RFID Execution Shrinkage Data integrity Cycle counting Product misplacement Compliance Errors Product variety Omnichannel