Production and availability policies through the Markov Decision Process and myopic methods for contractual and selective orders
In this paper, we consider a supply chain with one manufacturer, one retailer, and some online customers. In addition to supplying the retailer, manufacturers may selectively take orders from individuals online. Through the Markov Decision Process, we explore the optimal production and availability policy for a manufacturer to determine whether to produce one more unit of products and whether to indicate “in stock” or “out of stock” on website. We measure the benefits and influences of adding online customers with and without the retailer’s inventory information sharing. We also simulate the production and availability policy via a myopic method, which can be implemented easily in the real world. Prediction of simple switching functions for the production and availability is proposed. We find the information sharing, production capacity and unit profit from online orders are the primary factors influencing manufacturer profits and optimal policy. The manufacturer might reserve 50% production capacity for contractual orders from the retailer and devote the remaining capacity to selective orders from spontaneous online customers.
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