Inventory record inaccuracy: Causes and labor effects

November 2015 | Oliva, Rogelio

Inventory record inaccuracy (IRI) is a pervasive problem in retailing and causes non-trivial profit loss. In response to retailers’ interest in identifying antecedents and consequences of IRI, we present a study that comprises multiple modeling initiatives. We first develop a dynamic simulation model to compare and contrast impacts of different operational errors in a continuous (Q, R) inventory system through a full-factorial experimental design. While backroom and shelf shrinkage are found to be predominant drivers of IRI, the other three errors related to recording and shelving have negligible impacts on IRI. Next, we empirically assess the relationships between labor availability and IRI using longitudinal data from five stores in a global retail chain. After deriving a robust measure of IRI through Bayesian computation and estimating panel data models, we find strong evidence that full-time labor reduces IRI whereas part-time labor fails to alleviate it. Further, we articulate the reinforcing relationships between labor and IRI by formally assessing the gain of the feedback loop based on our empirical findings and analyzing immediate, intermediate, and long-term impacts of IRI on labor availability. The feedback modeling effort not only integrates findings from simulation and econometric analysis but also structurally explores the impacts of current practices. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for practitioners and researchers.



  • Chuang HC


Journal of Operations Management 39-40:63-78.

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