Optimal selection of retailers for a manufacturing vendor in a vendor managed inventory system
A Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) system consists of a manufacturing vendor and a number of retailers. In such a system, it is essential for the vendor to optimally determine retailer selection and other related decisions, such as the product’s replenishment cycle time and the wholesale price, in order to maximize his profit. Meanwhile, each retailer’s decisions on her willingness to enter the system and retail price are simultaneously considered in the retailer selection process. However, the above interactive decision making is complex and the available studies on interactive retailer selection are scarce. In this study, we formulate the retailer selection problem as a Stackelberg game model to help the manufacturer, as a vendor, optimally select his retailers to form a VMI system. This model is non-linear, mixed-integer, game-theoretic, and analytically intractable. Therefore, we further develop a hybrid algorithm for effectively and efficiently solving the developed model. The hybrid algorithm combines dynamic programming (DP), genetic algorithm (GA) and analytical methods. As demonstrated by our numerical studies, the optimal retailer selection can increase the manufacturer’s profit by up to 90% and the selected retailers’ profits significantly compared to non-selection strategy. The proposed hybrid algorithm can solve the model within a minute for a problem with 100 candidate retailers, whereas a pure GA has to take more than 1h to solve a small sized problem of 20 candidate retailers achieving an objective value no worse than that obtained by the hybrid algorithm.
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