An Explanation of Inventory-Sharing Communities at WarehouseTWO

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Categories: WarehouseTWO Updates

what are inventory sharing and inventory sharing communities? By Mark Tomalonis
Principal, WarehouseTWO, LLC

WarehouseTWO’s system of "communities" serves a unique purpose in enabling “inventory-sharing” among peer wholesalers.  Understanding and leveraging this system can enhance the value of one’s WarehouseTWO membership.

What is an Inventory-Sharing “Community” at WarehouseTWO?

WarehouseTWO is a software tool (SaaS) that helps a manufacturer and its network of wholesale channel partners improve their operational and asset efficiency.  We do this via a cloud-based database that is populated with information about finished goods inventory available in in the wholesale channel.  That is, WarehouseTWO creates one big “virtual” pile of inventory, available to a manufacturer and its wholesale channel partners.  The benefits of having more inventory available to every member of a manufacturer’s wholesale channel are obvious: more sales, happier end-customers and less backorder management.

To facilitate these benefits while restricting who has access to the inventory information populating our database, WarehouseTWO has a system of inventory-sharing “communities”.  Each community corresponds to a manufacturer’s unique wholesale network.  If a manufacturer has one global wholesale network, we create one community for that manufacturer.  For manufacturers who have multiple, brand-specific or geography-specific wholesale networks, we create multiple communities, each one corresponding to a unique network.

WarehouseTWO subscribers participate in selected communities.  Access to communities is restricted based on a wholesaler-distributor’s relationship with the manufacturer corresponding to the community.

Why Does WarehouseTWO Restrict Access to Communities?

WarehouseTWO exists to support, enhance and protect a manufacturer’s authorized wholesale channel.  We are not a channel disrupter.  We do not host open marketplaces, available to anyone.  With few exceptions, only manufacturers and wholesaler distributors may subscribe to our service.  It is not available to end-users, resellers, integrators or OEMs.

WarehouseTWO’s inventory-sharing “community” system exists to protect a manufacturer’s wholesale channel.  That is, a subscribing wholesaler must be an authorized wholesaler-distributor of the manufacturer/brand/product-line corresponding to a given community to be able to view the inventory data posted to that community.

How Inventory-Sharing Communities Affect the User Experience at WarehouseTWO

Community access restriction manifests itself for buyers and sellers at WarehouseTWO:

  • Acting as a buyer:  when a subscribing member searches for an at item in the WarehouseTWO database, only inventory data records uploaded to one of the communities activated on the member account appear in a search result.

  • Acting as a seller:  a subscribing member may upload inventory data only to communities activated on its member account.

“Authorized” versus “Unauthorized” Access to Communities

There are two types of access to an inventory-sharing community at WarehouseTWO:

  1. “authorized” access:  this access to the community is for either the manufacturer hosting the community or one of its authorized wholesale channel partners.  Such access allows the member to browse (“SEARCH”) the inventory data available from other community participants and to upload (“POST”) its own inventory data to the community.  This is two-way inventory-sharing.

  2. “unauthorized” access:  this access to the community is for members who do not have a buy/sell relationship with the manufacturer corresponding to the community.  Such access disallows the member from browsing the inventory data available from other community members but does allow uploading one’s own inventory data to the community.  This is one-way inventory-sharing.  This “sell only” capability provides to the member a possible marketplace (the authorized wholesale channel network) into which to sell inventory that it owns, but for which it currently does not have a relationship with the corresponding manufacturer.

Work-Arounds and Exceptions

Life is complicated.  So is wholesale-distribution.  Thus, here are some exceptions and work-arounds relating to our standard community access restrictions:

Work-around:  anyone can browse inventory data available outside one’s community access by searching at WarehouseTWO’s "WEB MARKET" website.  This is a publicly available website at which many of our members post selected inventory for sale to anyone.

Work-around:  subscribing members can expose selected inventory to all WarehouseTWO members, regardless of community access, by uploading selected inventory to a location record activated as a "WEB MARKET" location.  When the box labeled “Exclude from SEARCH Results” in this location record is not checked, items uploaded to this location record can appear in a search result at the WarehouseTWO website, unrestricted by community access.  This capability is explained on page 7 of our "WEB MARKET" tutorial document.

Exception:  “Unauthorized” access to some communities is disallowed, either at the discretion of the community host, or to prevent the dissemination of counterfeit product.  Such communities are identified by a null sign (∅) displayed at the end of the community name.  See examples here.

Exception:  WarehouseTWO allows for non-branded communities, meant for the sharing of commodities.  These communities start with the word, “marketplace”.  Any subscribing member may have “authorized” access to these communities, with one exception:  “marketplace:  miscellaneous”.  Only “unauthorized” access to this community is allowed.  Its exclusive purpose is to expose items, for which no branded community exists, to internet search engines, using WarehouseTWO’s "WEB MARKET" functionality.

How New Communities are Added to WarehouseTWO

In general, a new community is created in the WarehouseTWO system only when a subscribing member acts as a “host” for the community.  A host typically is the manufacturer corresponding to the community but may be a marketing/buying group or independent wholesaler organization.  The host takes on the role of “evangelist” (participation driver) for the community.  (Such a role is essential to ensure success of the community.)  Hosting a community requires a Level 5 membership at WarehouseTWO. WarehouseTWO has a formal process and supporting documentation to assist a community host in building and maintaining a successful community.

If you are a manufacturer, marketing/buying group administrator, or independent wholesaler organization representative interested in hosting an inventory-sharing community at WarehouseTWO, contact us for details on how to get started.

If you are a wholesaler-distributor interested in seeing a new inventory-sharing community at WarehouseTWO, contact us for guidance.  Lucrative incentives are available to wholesaler subscribers who influence the creation of a new community.  Ask us about them.

About “Legacy” (Non-Hosted) Communities

When WarehouseTWO was launched in 2005, we added new branded communities in response to requests from any of our members.  Many of these early communities were added without a partnering community host.  These are our “legacy” communities.  Over the years, we realized that non-hosted communities had no one to fill the role of “evangelist”.  The result was that many of these communities did not attain sufficient participation to attain “critical mass” activity.  As a result, we stopped creating non-hosted communities years ago.  For now, we maintain many of these “legacy” communities at our website.  We reserve the right to retire them, at our discretion.  Lucrative incentives are available to wholesaler subscribers who influence the growth of existing communities.  Ask us about them.

We encourage all of our distributor members to participate in as many communities as their membership levels allow, including these “legacy” communities.

Still have questions about WarehouseTWO’s inventory-sharing “communities”?  Got a suggestion?  Want a new community added to our system?  Contact us.

About the Author
After a successful career in sales and operations management in the wholesale-distribution industry, Mark Tomalonis is now principal of WarehouseTWO, LLC.  He amuses himself by writing articles such as this one, to help wholesaler-distributors execute their operations better.  Mark’s articles and tips are published in WarehouseTWO’s monthly e-newsletters.  Click here to subscribe.

About WarehouseTWO
WarehouseTWO, LLC is an independent “inventory-sharing” software tool created exclusively for durable goods manufacturers and their authorized distributors, and for any group of durable goods “peer” wholesaler-distributors, such as members of a buying/marketing group or cooperative.  To learn how inventory-sharing with WarehouseTWO can help your business, visit the WarehouseTWO website, or email