a) Explain the risks and benefits associated with holding inventory. There are various reasons for holding inventory. Inventory acts as a buffer between supply and demand fluctuations and irons out supply chain system failures. The smoother your supply chain operates and the better you are able to forecast the less inventory you have to hold, unless you gain some economies of scale in purchasing, transportation and or manufacturing. Especially for supermarket, holding inventory can lead to customer satisfaction and increase their loyalty. Customers tend to stop by most often at supermarket where they surely know the item is available. On the contrary, inventory is a poor investment alternative for cash, but imperative to achieve required service levels. Maintaining the appropriate levels and types of inventory is essential to providing quality, timely service and products to your customers. Preventing stock-outs without overstocking products requires a disciplined process and information system that can dynamically manage this balance. Two of the keys to optimizing inventories are to improve reliability and reduce variability in the supply chain to meet your customer 's demand while being cost effective. To order just in time and just enough.
b) In general, why must companies use cost flow assumptions to cost their inventories? What cost flow assumption does Whole Foods Market use to cost its inventories?
Cost flow assumption was developed for tax purposes. However, because of tax law requirements, if a company uses this assumption for tax purposes it must also use it for its financial statements. Whole Foods Market uses LIFO (Last-in, First-out) method to determine cost. It does not coincide with the actual movement of goods. LIFO is used during inflation to defer income tax payments. Under LIFO the goods in inventory at the beginning of the period are assumed to remain in the ending inventory