Accurate, Automated, & Synchronous Across Systems
Value of Inventory Data
You will want to understand how inventory is managed across multiple potential fulfillment partners. The majority of the time, a member is going to want their order to be fulfilled as quickly as possible, all while taking advantage of group purchasing discounts and/or rebates. As such, you need to ensure that the inventory information being shown, be it on a user interface or through some form of automated integration, is as up-to-date as possible.
Without up-to-date and accurate information, it's difficult for a buyer to make a good purchasing decision. If they complete an order, only to find out there was incorrect information and something doesn’t go as planned, the customer may become very disgruntled. This is especially true if they pay for an item only to find out there aren’t enough in inventory to fulfill their order.
If you have up-to-date information, you can let end users know when inventory is out of stock and even notify them whenever it becomes available again. Just by having a level of inventory management, the users can be aware of the status of desired items, and having accurate information will help keep all parties involved happy. Leveraging accurate information around inventory data can also be accompanied by notifications around similar items or even discounts available for alternative items.
So, while it can be fairly detailed, the buying group is really looking for value. As such, the fact that you can provide them with suggestions and ways to help them reduce their cost without any loss in quality is important. They will appreciate knowing what items are in stock, and possible alternatives in case they need an item soon but find their initial choice unavailable.
In addition, having a good inventory management system is helpful whenever a buyer is looking to buy a replacement part for something or even something that is rarely in stock. It can be incredibly helpful to allow them to search with synonymous terms, synonymous SKUs, or part numbers that are references in order for them to find possible alternatives. Perhaps they can find an off-the-shelf item that can fulfill their needs in place of the OEM item.