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MSA MultiCat Reports

MSA Multicat is the format used to submit data to manufacturers or MSA. As the name implies, Multicat enables the participant (distributor) to provide data across multiple categories. Multicat reports are weekly reports filed electronically by tobacco, candy, drinks, and grocery distributors to report sales and inventory floor count to brand manufacturers as part of participating in trade programs. The Multicat report slightly varies between different trading programs but the report standard structure is the same. The reports are uploaded electronically directly to manufactures or through the MSAi reporting system which in turn passes the brands data to the manufacturers.

Mandatory Data

Multicat reports are weekly reports filed electronically by tobacco, candy, drinks, and grocery distributors to report sales and inventory floor counts to brand manufacturers as part of participating in their trade programs. The Multicat report data slightly varies between different trading programs but the report standard structure requirements are the same.

Multicat reports are submitted in EDI flat files. The reports are uploaded electronically directly to manufactures or through the MSAi reporting system which in turn passes the brands data to the manufacturers. Each report is validated and an email is sent to the reporter with error or warnings. Complete error free reports are due by Tuesday of the following week. Missing reports are tracked and must be submitted as soon as possible before trade programs get notified of the missing data.

Mandatory data:
Product: UPC, SKU, description, items per selling unit, category, quantity on hand, promotion code, and promotion description.
Sales: Quantity sold, ship to name, street, city, state, and zip code.

Trade Programs

Trade programs are programs offered by large manufacturing companies in different industries like tobacco, candy, and drinks. Trade programs compliance places strict rules on accurate data reports in order to qualify for trade programs incentives. To participate in the distributor trade program, distributor must report outbound weekly sales volume, inventory, and returns at the SKU/UPC level including sales to all retail customers, other distributors, employees, cash & carries, consumer sales, manufacturer representatives and brokers.

Accurate sales and inventory data is important to manufacturers as marketing and manufacturing data analytics for forecasting. Auditors used by manufacturers to compare reported data from different distributors involved in the distribution chain from the manufacturer to a specific retailer and if they find reported data not consist with expected volume numbers an inquiry is initiated and program benefits to the retailer and distributors are put on hold until the data mistakes are corrected by the reporters. Brands manufacturers constantly check data correctness by comparing reports from different distributors to verify sales and purchases versus floor inventories.

Tobacco trade programs include Altria, RJ Ronalds, Good Times, Lorillard, Altadis and others. Candy trade programs include Hershy, Mars and other candy brands manufacturers. Drinks trade programs includes Pepsi and other drinks vendors.

Trade programs Dollars management expects accurate and verifiable data to be reports of sales, on hand inventory, and salable and unsalable returns numbers. Numbers from a distributors must match what their vendors and indirect distributors numbers. Once distributor sales is another distributor purchases and so on.

Category Codes

To track each brand accurately, category codes are assigned to different set of products within a super category. Category code is used to classify the SKU by product type. Tobacco for example is classified by categories like cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco items. Category codes are 4 digits numbers assigned to different type of tobacco products. For example cigarettes Multicat category is 3231. Assigning codes allows the data analytics to detects products types across all distribution reports. List of Multicat category codes is available from trade programs.

Unclassified Items

In addition to errors and warnings list sent per report to distributors after they submit their reports. Unclassified items reports are sent to distributors on quarterly basis as feedback informing reporters of unknown or unclassified. Reporters validates their unclassified items to fix any mistakes for the following quarter or resubmit previous reports.

Items per Selling Unit

Items per selling unit is the number of cigarettes or "sticks" per selling unit or number of cans per selling unit. For example the Black & Mild Packs sell in full pack, so there are 10 packs per container, but each individual pack (as the customer sells it) has 5 cigars in it. So for our purposes, 10 5pks of B&M would be units of 50. If it is an upright with 25 individual cigars, the units would be 25. If it is a shipper with 25 each of 4 flavors, your units would be 100. Little cigars come just like cigarettes. 20 sticks per pack, 10 packs per carton for a total unit of 200 sticks per selling unit. If you are reporting moist, they are reported by the can. The most utilized selling unit is a 5 can roll, so your units would be 5.

Promotion Code and Description

Promotion is special discount you pass it to your customers (retailers). Promotions are offered by your vendors (another distributor or factory), it is well known which brands should have promotion (it is usually tells you in the brand description). You can get the promo code and description from your vendor.

Here is an example for MARLBORO BLEND 27 BX $1 OFF/1 PAK,
Promo code: 21134
Promo Desc: MARL 1PK $1 OFF

Benefits of Reporting

There are several benefits of data reporting to the reporter (distributor or wholesaler) and manufacturers (data analysis). The reporters are in compliance with trade programs when they report their data every week on time and correctly. Satisfying the trade programs requirements for reporting enables the reporters to gain direct purchasing status, rebates, and discounts. These incentives are not available to distributors who are not enrolled in programs or not reporting data accurately and timely.

Conclusion

It is clearly distributors and wholesalers who sell and not participating in tobacco, candy, drinks, and grocery manufacturers trade programs are leaving money on the table. Distributors who are not enrolled and reporting will soon be asked to start reporting or loose purchasing capability from their vendors and their customers (retailers) will soon ask them to start reporting or risk looking their business.