Successful strategic inventory management relies on tying creative and marketing plans to merchandising plans. Marketers and merchants need to develop company-wide planning calendars and projections for all promotions in all channels — catalog, online, e-mail, stores, space ads. Merchants and the inventory control group then plan product purchasing, availability, and receipts to support these events.

There are three aspects to this planning. First, the marketing department compiles and continually updates the marketing calendar. Second, the marketing team plans the expected orders by week for the promotions. Third, the inventory control and merchandising teams plan the demand in units for the promotions.

Often it is e-mail campaigns that trip up multi-channel merchants. The campaigns may appear on the marketing calendar, but all too frequently no one decides which items will be promoted until four to eight weeks before the actual date of the promotion. By then product has been ordered and may already have arrived in the distribution center. This lack of planning can cause contention between channels for best-sellers, leading to customer frustration and back-orders.