A Practical End-to-End Inventory Management Model with Deep Learning
27 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2021 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021
Date Written: November 25, 2020
We investigate a data-driven multi-period 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 to 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.
Keywords: end-to-end, inventory management, deep learning
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