Availability: Opening a Can of Worms

Price and availability data: it ought to be such a simple matter, just a question of telling the supply chain that a price has changed or a title has gone out of stock. However, it is anything but – as the P & A working party we set up recently has been finding out.

To begin with, there is a common assumption that there is a single BIC code list for non-availability. There isn’t. If you are using EDI to transmit availability data, you use the BIC/Tradacoms list 54. If you are an ONIX user you need List 54 if you’re still with version 2 or lists 54 and 55 (publishing status and product availability) if you’ve moved to version 3. If you’ve implemented the BIC P & A web service standard, there’s yet another list.

Next, the EDI codes serve multiple purposes: to indicate availability status in a data feed; but more significantly as a reason for non-supply when acknowledging an EDI order. To make matters worse, code list 54 is an all-purpose list which includes status and acknowledgment responses for all the different supply chain players and has to serve all their needs. Our first task is to sort out which codes should be used by whom, to mean what, and then how they should be interpreted by the recipient.

And that really is the nub of the problem: the whole concept of availability changes depending on who is asking and why. Every link in the supply chain changes the availability perspective.

We have a big task on our hands. And we would welcome input from any of you who would like to be involved.


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