Joint Stocking and Product Offer Decisions Under the Multinomial Logit Model



This article studies a joint stocking and product offer problem. We have access to a number of products to satisfy the demand over a finite selling horizon. Given that customers choose among the set of offered products according to the multinomial logit model, we need to decide which sets of products to offer over the selling horizon and how many units of each product to stock so as to maximize the expected profit. We formulate the problem as a nonlinear program, where the decision variables correspond to the stocking quantity for each product and the duration of time that each set of products is offered. This nonlinear program is intractable due to its large number of decision variables and its nonseparable and nonconcave objective function. We use the structure of the multinomial logit model to formulate an equivalent nonlinear program, where the number of decision variables is manageable and the objective function is separable. Exploiting separability, we solve the equivalent nonlinear program through a dynamic program with a two dimensional and continuous state variable. As the solution of the dynamic program requires discretizing the state variable, we study other approximate solution methods. Our equivalent nonlinear program and approximate solution methods yield insights for good offer sets.