Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2022.4564

We investigate a data-driven multiperiod inventory replenishment problem with uncertain demand and vendor lead time (VLT) with accessibility to a large quantity of historical data. Different from the traditional two-step predict-then-optimize (PTO) solution framework, we propose a one-step end-to-end (E2E) framework that uses deep learning models to output the suggested replenishment amount directly from input features without any intermediate step. The E2E model is trained to capture the behavior of the optimal dynamic programming solution under historical observations without any prior assumptions on the distributions of the demand and the VLT. By conducting a series of thorough numerical experiments using real data from one of the leading e-commerce companies, we demonstrate the advantages of the proposed E2E model over conventional PTO frameworks. We also conduct a field experiment with JD.com, and the results show that our new algorithm reduces holding cost, stockout cost, total inventory cost, and turnover rate substantially compared with JD’s current practice. For the supply chain management industry, our E2E model shortens the decision process and provides an automatic inventory management solution with the possibility to generalize and scale. The concept of E2E, which uses the input information directly for the ultimate goal, can also be useful in practice for other supply chain management circumstances.

This paper was accepted by Hamid Nazerzadeh, big data analytics.

Funding: This research was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China [Grant 2018YFB1700600] and National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grants 71991462 and 91746210].

Supplemental Material: The online data are available at https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2022.4564.

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