Product Management Basics

The Catalog, Inventory and Bin Systems keep track of the products you have for sale or in stock.  The information is kept in three tables which are related to each other and to other data in your system.




All goods you have available for sale or consumption


Goods you have, or have had in stock


Where the goods are in your warehouse(s)

The Catalog table contains one record (row) for each item you have for sale or use internally for production.  To purchase, sell or consume an item you must have a record setup for it.  The information in this table can come from a variety of sources, including data entry, electronic catalogs from your suppliers and via EDI. It is common to have a much larger number of items in this file than you have in your inventory (warehouse) table as it reflects the items you want to sell not the items you have in stock.

The catalog record contains information about the item that is fundamental to the item, like color, size, weight, etc…. 

The Inventory table  contains one record for each item you have in each of your warehouses (locations).  This record contains information that is relevant to the item in the specific warehouse, for example; the on order quantity, the last price paid quantity on hand, average cost, etc…  You need an inventory record in order to sell or receive an item in a specific location.

The Binloc table contains information about which bin(s) in a specific warehouse the goods are in.  Binloc records come and go as you stock and sell goods through your warehouse.


If you have three warehouses you would have one record in the catalog table describing the item and you would have one record in each of the locations that you normally stock the item in.  When every you actually had goods in stock in a warehouse you would have records in the Binloc table describing which bins the goods were in in the warehouse.

You will notice that the Catalog and Inventory contain some of the same fields.  This is done to allow the system to handle different environments.  In some situations all inventory locations will have the same data in a specific field, in other situations the information needs to be different.

Normalization – The process to handle the difference in data between inventory and catalog files.  Many fields are the same between the catalog and inventory files.  In some cases this can be viewed as duplication of data, in other cases it is necessary. The “normalization” process handles synchronization of the data based on the configuration of your system.  The configuration determines which fields are maintained at the catalog level and which at the inventory level.


The “description” fields are in both the catalog and inventory files.  If you have three warehouses in the US, the description data in the catalog table and in the inventory would be the same.  In this case the normalization process


Product Management Startup Checklist