What is a Buffer Stock?
One of Flexport's core functions is to report inventory levels — to tell each integration how many units we currently have in stock. For example: if you are connected to Amazon, then Flexport will tell Amazon that we have 100 units of a specific DSKU.
This feature allows you create a buffer stock or a "safety stock" in Flexport. This will reduce the inventory quantity that we report to the integration. For example:
- You set the buffer stock to be 5 units for Amazon.
- If Flexport portal has 100 units, we will report 95 units to Amazon.
- If Flexport portal has 5 or less units, we report 0 units to Amazon
Setting a buffer stock value can help you by:
- Reducing stockouts for fast selling items — By reporting lower inventory levels earlier, this will 'close out the listing' sooner. For orders that come in the interval before a listing is 'closed', Flexport can still fulfill using your buffer stock.
- Minimizing penalties from marketplaces that penalize for stockouts — This gives you peace of mind that you can continue selling and fulfilling with Flexport with a minimum of marketplace penalties.
Buffer stock is an optional configuration setting that you can set per integration. For example, you can set a high buffer stock value (such as 50 units) for Amazon and a low value (such as 5 units) for Shopify.
You can also choose to set a raw value (such as 5 units), a percentage of your inventory levels (if 15% we would report 85 even though you have 100 units), or a combination of both.
How to Set a Buffer Stock Value
Go to the channels page and find the integration that you want to set a buffer stock value for. You can set different different values for each integration that you are connected to.
In the Buffer Stock section, enter in a value for minimum units, percent units, or both. Click the Save button to save your changes.
What values should I set?
Guidance: We do not offer any guidance on what is a good buffer stock, as this depends highly on your own specific business and use case.
Warnings: We do warn you if you input a particularly high value for buffer stock — above 500 for a minimum units and above 33 for a percent. If these make sense for your particular case, you can set these values.
However, setting too high a value will mean we hold back too much inventory when reporting. This can result in units that are sitting in a warehouse and not fulfilling orders. For example, setting a percent value of 100 will hold back all your inventory.
In general, buffer stock is intended for fast-moving DSKUs to avoid stockouts. To avoid keeping units in storage for a long time and incurring long term storage fees, we recommend you keep all DSKUs above the min value you set, and when DSKUs drop below that value to either inbound more units or to disable buffer stock.
When do these values go into effect?
Your buffer stock values automatically go into effect the next time that we update inventory levels. This usually happens when:
- After importing an order — After we assign an order to a fulfillment center, Flexport reports updated inventory levels for the DSKUs on this order. This happens for all integrations this DSKU is linked to.
- On a regular schedule — This happens at least once every 24 hours, but depends on integration and Flexport's internal processes. For example, Amazon updates happen at least once every 30 minutes.
As a rule of thumb, we suggest you wait 15 to 30 minutes after setting values before you check the integration and expect to see modified quantity levels.
Check that it's Working
To verify that buffer stock is working correctly, simply open Amazon Seller Central, Walmart Seller Central, or whatever integration you set the buffer stock value for. Find a SKU with inventory. For this example, we are using the 'ChuckIt Ultra Ball Medium...'
Next go to your inventory page and find that same DSKU. Compare the value in the 'Available' column in Flexport to the 'Available Quantity' in Walmart, Amazon, or the integration. The available quantity on the integration should be less than what is in Flexport based on the value you set.
In the example below, we have 28 units in Flexport and we set a percent to hold back of 75%. Therefore we held back 21 units (21=28*0.75) and we reported 7 units to Amazon (7=28-21). This is what's correctly showing in Amazon Seller Central, so it is working properly.
While searching in Flexport, you may have multiple DSKUs with the same name. It helps to search for DSKUs that already have inventory since the buffer stock feature has no effect on DSKUs with 0 inventory.
In addition, check that the DSKU is connected to the right listing. In the example below, this DSKU has a SKU value of XXXXXadd from a previous integration, but we manually made an alias-link to a different Amazon listing (MG_TEST_SKU). Just click the Amazon link and check that the SKU and ID values
1) Buffer stock values are on a per integration basis for all DSKUs with inventory. Currently you cannot set a different buffer stock value for one (DSKU, integration) combination and a different value for a different (DSKU, integration combination).
2) We only update inventory levels if we have a link from Flexport to the integration for that particular DSKU.
3) To reduce confusion, we recommend that you only set the safety stock in one location (Flexport) rather than also on the integration side as well.