Ask the Expert: What Is the Difference Between a Shipper and an Assortment?

Q: What is the difference between an assortment and a shipper — and when do I need to use them?

First things first: Assortment is a term used to describe more than one item with different UPC codes grouped together for shipping and/or ordering purposes. The Prime or Parent is the Walmart item number representing the group of individual items to be ordered, and an individual item in the grouping is called a Child.

There Are 2 Classifications:

  • Like Assortment
  • Shipper

So what’s the difference?

A Like Assortment is a group of items that all have the same Cost, Retail, and Pack. Example: 10 desk fans in 2 colors — pink and blue.

Sometimes called an Unlike Assortment, a Shipper can include items with different Cost, Retail, and Pack. An example of this would be a group of 5 desk fans, 5 box fans, and 5 oscillating fans. It’s important to note that the items in a Shipper can also be “Like” items.

The key difference between these two classifications is how your buyer wants the items to be replenished.

When a replenishable Like Assortment reaches a predetermined inventory level, the system will automatically generate a new order for the full assortment. Nonreplenishable assortments will not trigger a new order.

The inventory level of Child items determines the reordering process for a Shipper, and the system only reorders the needed Child items  not the full Shipper.

Here’s an easy reference sheet:

Assortment v Shipper

When to use Like Assortment vs Shipper

You use these terms during Item File Creation (and Online Item File Creation).

Let’s take a look at an earlier example. You have an assortment of 10 desk fans – pink and blue. Within a week, Walmart has sold all of your blue fans, but your pink fans are still sitting on the shelf. In this situation, it’s most beneficial to group items as a Shipper, so Walmart will automatically reorder more blue fans, rather than both colors.

Expert Advice:

Replenishment helpGet it right the first time,” says Replenishment expert, Danetta Manos. 

“Item file errors can cause replenishment challenges, as well as issues with deductions at the end of the year. Also, keep in mind that the person talking with the buyer is generally in sales, while the person doing item file creation is an analyst. It is essential that the salesperson asks the right questions in their buyer meeting and communicates effectively with the analyst team.”

Additional resources:

Item File Creation

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