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- An exact column-generation approach for the lot-type design problem (2012)
- We consider a fashion discounter distributing its many branches with integral multiples from a set of available lot-types. For the problem of approximating the branch and size dependent demand using those lots we propose a tailored exact column generation approach assisted by fast algorithms for intrinsic subproblems, which turns out to be very efficient on our real-world instances.
- The Integrated Size and Price Optimization problem (2012)
- We present the Integrated Size and Price Optimization Problem (ISPO) for a fashion discounter with many branches. Based on a two-stage stochastic programming model with recourse, we develop an exact algorithm and a production-compliant heuristic that produces small optimality gaps. In a field study we show that a distribution of supply over branches and sizes based on ISPO solutions is significantly better than a one-stage optimization of the distribution ignoring the possibility of optimal pricing.
- Integrated size and price optimization for a fashion retailer (2013)
- This thesis is the result of a collaboration with a German fashion retailer which lasted for several years. The aim was the development of a decision-support system for the supply of the about 1300 branches in Germany. There are some specialties about the situation at our industrial partner: The branches are supplied by prepackaged size-assortments of a product which we call lot-types. With the objective to economize handling cost, these lot-types are already composed at the respective low-wage country where the article is also produced. The expense at the German central warehouse is further reduced by allowing only four or five different lot-types for the delivery of one product. Moreover, each branch is supplied by a certain quantity of a single lot-type. For the most fashion articles replenishment is not possible. The sales success of a product is a priori unknown. Historical sales data can only be used on a higher aggregation level, e.g., the average historical demand on the commodity group level. Demand estimation is therefore very vague. Under- and oversupplies are unavoidable. Influence over the sales process is possible by marking down prices. To compensate for an oversupply of a product, weekly the price can be reduced to predefined price steps which depend on the starting price of the product. Mark-downs for an article are performed simultaneously for all branches and sizes. Within the cooperation mathematical problem formulations with the aim to minimize measures for the deviation of supply from estimated demand had been developed. In these measures the selling process is not or only very vaguely regarded. Now we include the possibility of marking down prices during the selling time already when deciding on the supply. The result is the two-stage stochastic program ISPO: The so-called first stage decision is the determination of a supply policy. The second stage decision, or recourse, is the decision on mark-downs during the selling time. ISPO yields an expected revenue maximizing supply strategy and corresponding optimal mark-down strategies for the considered scenarios. ISPO it too complex to solve it via standard approaches. Customized methods had to be devised to solve ISPO. On the one side we present an exact solver for benchmarking. On the other side a fast heuristic was developed for practical use at our partner. The basic idea of our exact solver is to enumerate all possible mark-down strategies. With this it is possible to reduce ISPO to a former formulation for the optimization of supply, which can be solved via standard approaches. In practice enumeration of all valid mark-down strategies for the purpose of solving ISPO is for reasons of time impossible. Therefore the idea is extended to a customized Branch&Bound approach. In this context we derived dual bounds for general two-stage stochastic programs which are based on the so-called wait-and-see solution from stochastic programming. We show that in general our bounds are tighter. The heuristic, beginning with a valid second stage decision, determines an optimal first stage decision and alternates between solving the first stage and the second stage until convergence is reached. The optimality gap is small enough to justify a practical use at the industrial partner. In practice the by ISPO proposed mark-down strategies are not applied; instead latest sales figures are exploited. According to these and an updated demand estimation weekly a new optimal mark-down strategy for the remaining selling time of the product is determined. For this purpose we propose an algorithm which relies on dynamic programming and tries to exclude non-optimal solutions a priori by dominance checks. ISPO, more precisely our heuristic approach, together with the weekly adaption of the mark-down strategy forms our decision support system for integrated size and price optimization DISPO. We tested DISPO in a five-month field study, performed as a statistical experiment, at our partner where pairs of similar branches were compared. At one branch of each pair, the test branch, supply and mark-down decisions came from ISPO. With respect to latest sales figures the mark-down decisions were weekly updated via our dynamic programming approach. At the other branch, the control branch, these decisions were not integrated: Supply was determined according to a strategy resulting from a former model that disregarded the selling process and mark-downs were handled manually by our partner. For the branches at which the decisions of ISPO were implemented an average raise of 1.5 percentage points of relative revenue was observed.