MSA Multicat Reporting
MULTICAT ™ is the file format used to report sales/inventory data to Management Science Associates Inc. (MSAi). As the name implies, Multicat enables the participant (distributor) to provide data across multiple categories. Multicat reports are weekly ASCII 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.
Benefits of MSA Reporting
Maintain Direct Purchasing Status
For a tobacco distributor to purchase products directly from a manufacturer, the manufacturer requires weekly accurate sales and inventory data reporting. Some manufacturers collect the data using their own systems like Swedish Match, while the majority hire MSA to collect the data on their behalf. Data is monitored very closely and analyzed against the supply chain; if a distributor is found reporting inaccurate data, a warning is issued, and repeat offenses could cost the distributor its purchasing status.
Receive Manufacturer Rebates
Tobacco manufacturers offer distributors rebates for reaching sales quotas. (A quota is set by the manufacturer, and is defined in the purchasing contract with the distributor.) In return, manufacturers are able to analyze their brand distribution data quickly and accurately. Accurate marketing data saves costs and increases profits for manufacturing companies.
Allow Your Customers to Receive Manufacturer Rebates
For distributors that report data to manufacturers, their customers (retailers) can enroll in trade programs to receive rebates upon reaching sales quotas. "A customer could be a retailer or a non-direct distributor." Retailers that buy from non-reporting distributors will be unable to enroll in trade programs, costing them potential savings in rebates.
Gain Sales Data Verification
Reported data is used by both manufacturers and government jurisdictions. For example, state revenue departments can obtain access to this data to compare it to their monthly filed tax returns data. Therefore, reporting accurate and consistent data to both manufacturers and government is essential to avoid tax audits. MSAi data can be used by states to compare to tax reports. A state can request MSAi data during an audit.
It is clear that reporting shipments data to MSAi or directly to manufacturers benefits manufacturers, wholesale distributors and their customers (retailers).
MSA Multicat 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 include the following fields:
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.
Altria Reporting Changes
In 2016 Altria requirements extended to include new data. Three new measures were required for the detailed reporting of product returns, including Floor Returns, Saleable Returns and Unsaleable Returns.
Returns from wholesaler to manufacturer, its reclamation center or the original supplier, where the product never shipped to any retailer, sub- jobber or non-direct distributor must be reported in Measure Code 006 of the BID Record.
Returns from retailer to wholesaler, where the product may be re-sold must be reported in Measure Code 004 of the PUR Record.
Returns from retailer to wholesaler, where the product is expired, damaged or otherwise non-saleable must be reported in Measure Code 005 of the PUR Record.
MSA Trade Programs
Most tobacco manufacturers require distributors to contact their local manufacturer representative to enroll in the trading programs. Registering with trade program allows sales and inventory data to be forwarded to manufacturers on time. Manufacturers make use of the data for marketing and manufacturing forecasting. All distributors must report their data to manufacturers to be able to maintain direct purchasing status, receive rebates and other incentives.
Tobacco trade programs includes Altria, Commonwealth, RJR, Japan Tobacco, Altadis, Nat Sherman, Dosal, Liggett, Blu E-cig, Juul, and Swisher. Candy trade programs include Mars Snack Foods, Hershey and other candy manufacturers.
Most of the trade programs require distributors to enroll through their local manufacturers representatives. Other trade programs, like Altria and Commonwealth, require the distributor to only request their data to be released from the MSA to the manufacturers.
Reconciliation of Shipments Data
Each trade program tries to verify that distributors are reporting clean data. Each sale is matched against a purchase from other distributor or manufacturer. So, the shipment data for a brand can be tracked from the source (manufacturer) to the end seller (retailer) with location, allowing manufacturers to gain clarity on location vs quantity sold per time. To keep shipment data effective, Trade Programs tracks shipment data and issues penalties for not confirming to the Trade Program reporting rules by reporting accurate and complete shipment data. A quarterly reports sent to each distributor with data results matrices to show how discrepancies in the reported data and require resubmission of shipment data.
MSA Multicat 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.
Refer to MSA Category Codes Table to learn more.