Forward ordering, pre-orders and virtual warehouses

Your customers are placing orders for items you don’t yet have in stock. This could be a pre-order of a new product, or a product you stock that is awaiting a shipment. You may only have a limited amount of the product available or you may need to keep track of what has been ordered to ensure you can cover demand.

You may want to allocate the inventory across your customer orders and find out if you have any left before it arrives in your main warehouse. You may want to sell any excess inventory while the inventory is incoming, but not sell any more than you have due to arrive. 

This scenario can be managed using the concept of virtual warehouses, along with the Brightpearl inventory reports, to show you how much inventory is available, what has already been allocated and what inventory needs to be ordered.

Note: No two businesses are exactly alike, and this workflow will probably not suit your needs exactly! However the concepts discussed can translate to a similar set-up.

Virtual warehouses

A virtual warehouse is a warehouse containing inventory you don't have in your possession. It's a way to track inventory you are able to sell but do not (yet!) own.

Creating a virtual warehouse

  1. Turn on multi-warehousing
    This can be enabled under Settings > Products / inventory > Inventory settings. Note that once it's enabled, it can't be turned off!
  2. Add a new warehouse
    A warehouse can be added under Products > Warehouses > 'Add a new warehouse'.
  3. Create or update your sales orders
    Assign all the relevant sales to the new virtual warehouse. You’ll have to do this one at a time as there’s no batch update warehouse feature. It may also be wise to give them a status, e.g. 'Pre-order', to make reporting easier.
    Note that if the orders contain a mix of pre-ordered products and products in stock, you will need to make a decision on how to handle those! Consider some of the options in this article.
  4. Set a minimum stock level for all your products for the virtual warehouse
    You need to do this so that the products appear on your low inventory report.
    As long as the value you set is above the maximum amount of inventory you will be receiving into any of your warehouses, you’ll be OK. You can batch update the minimum stock level for a number of products at once either using a spreadsheet, or from the product list (select products, choose “Tick items then choose” and select “Set reorder threshold”). Check that the products appear at Products > Low stock report.

Once you have some sales set to the virtual warehouse, you’ll see the products on the low inventory report report under the 'open sales' column. This is the total of unallocated items on orders assigned to that warehouse. If that’s all you need to report on, then you’re done!

You can filter the report by brand or category, and export this list to Excel for further reporting.

Using a virtual warehouse to limit quantities that can be ordered

Once the quantities you have ordered are confirmed, you may want to receive the inventory into stock so you can begin to limit the sales that can be placed for these products.

  1. Receive the inventory into stock in the quantities you are anticipating
    It is very important to ensure the inventory is received in at zero cost - this inventory is not real, and therefore should not impact your accounts!
  2. Allocate the inventory to the sales
    To reduce the quantities available, allocate the virtual inventory to the relevant sales orders. You can also fulfill the orders from the virtual warehouse, but make sure to never ship them!

Shipping goods when the inventory arrives

When the goods arrive into the warehouse, you will need to:

  1. Remove the virtual stock allocated to your sales
  2. Fulfill the sales with the actual stock

Removing the virtual stock

  1. Unallocate the sales orders containing the virtual stock
    Filter your sales list to only include sales containing the virtual stock, either using order status or warehouse. You will want to make sure you are only unallocating the virtual stock.
    If you have fulfilled the inventory, delete the goods notes (filtering the goods note list by warehouse).
  2. Write off the virtual stock
    Filter the inventory detail report under Products > Inventory detail to your virtual warehouse and write off the virtual stock you have received. Because you received it in at no cost, this will not impact your accounts.
    Learn more about writing inventory off.

Warning: Unallocating the items will make them available for sale again on your eCommerce store! It may be a good idea to hide these products from your webstore/marketplace while you proceed with these steps.

Fulfilling the sales with the actual stock

  1. Receive the inventory into stock (as normal)
    Receive the goods into your actual warehouse as you normally would, on a purchase order.
  2. Filter the sales list to the sales containing the pre-ordered stock
    You can filter the sales list to bring up all sales which contained the pre-ordered stock, using either the warehouse, the order status, or some other field.
  3. Select all sales and fulfill them
    Select the relevant sales using the checkboxes, and click the 'Fulfill' button:
    On the popup, select the main warehouse as the location to fulfill from:
  4. Process the sales/goods notes as normal
    You can now proceed with your normal ordering process.
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