Best Practice for Site Numbers

A best practice in SAP Retail is that the following objects all have the same 4-character number:

This is true for all Sites: Stores, Distribution Centers, and Reference Sites of all flavors.

But this isn’t a system-constraint! Like many things that are described as a “Best Practice,” you can choose otherwise … and pay a price 🙂

Let’s leave aside Profit Center Number for now (that one is a complete article; see Profit Center number decisions that add complexity).

Site Master: One Business Object

Site Master is one business object, comprised of many technical objects.

When we say “Site Master” we mean all of the pictured objects (the customizing, Site, Business Partner, Customer, and Vendor).  All of it!

Why do we mean to include all of these parts when we use the words “Site Master?” And why is it Best Practice that all of these parts have the same number?

SAP Retail business users consider Site Master to be one business object.  The technical reality is that a Site Master is comprised of many objects, and it is commonly the component objects that are used in many different Retail business processes, not the Site Master itself. Many SAP Retail business processes use the Site Customer and know nothing about Business Partner or Site Master.

From a business process perspective we say “Site Master.”  And we try to make all of the Site Master components have the same identifying number.  All of this to minimize confusion for business process users. 

If the numbers for the components of the Site Master aren’t the same as the Site number, then your business users have to remember different numbers — other than the Site Number — and use the correct number in respective business processes. You don’t want to train users to remember different numbers for execution of different business processes … when the business user is thinking “Site.”

Business Partner w/ Customer Role

For example, Assortment and Listing business processes in SAP Retail are based on the Site Customer.  That is why it’s mandatory to create a Business Partner (with a Customer role) for a Site Master.

When a user is making an entry in Assortment and Listing business processes, the user is thinking Site Number, but is technically entering the number of the Site Customer. Point of Sale (POS) Inbound and POS Outbound processes likewise use the Site Customer. Again, that is why it’s mandatory to create a Business Partner (with a Customer role) for a Site Master.

Lastly, there’s a technical reason why it’s mandatory to create a Business Partner (with a Customer role) for a Site Master.  The Site Master basic data table is T001W (same as for standard Plants).  The primary key field for table T001W is WERKS (Plant Number, 4 characters).  But the SAP Retail extension for Site Master (the difference between a Plant and a Site Master) is table WRF1.

Table WRF1

The Primary Key field of table WRF1 is LOCNR (Customer Number of the Plant, 10 characters). Therefore, a Site Customer is mandatory for creating the WRF1 entry, which is the extension of a standard Plant to a Retail Site Master.

Business Partner w/ Supplier Role

The addition of Supplier Roles to the Site Business Partner (i.e. a plain-old Vendor Master is created in LFA1) is typically found in two circumstances.

  1. The Vendor Master is required for a Distribution Center because the Distribution Center will act as a Vendor with respect to Stores as it supplies goods to Stores.
  2. Any Site Master (either a Distribution Center or a Store) could require a Vendor Master if there’s a business requirement to support cross-company code transfer of products.  In this scenario, the Site Master acts as a vendor to an external customer (a Site in another company code).

Site Numbers

Let’s go back to the fact that Site Number (Plant Number – T001W-WERKS) is technically defined as 4 characters and can’t be more than 4 characters. Please don’t even consider modifying the system to accommodate more than 4 characters.

Meanwhile, Business Partner number (BUT000-PARTNER), Customer number (KNA1-KUNNR), and Vendor number (LFA1-LIFNR are all technically defined as 10 characters.

Given the Site number constraint, how are Site numbers for more than 9999 Sites accommodated? The only possibility is to use alpha-numeric values for Site Numbers, and thus for associated Business Partner, Customer, and Vendor. After Site 1 to 9999 then it’s A001, A002, A003 and so on.

Lastly, unlike Business Partner, Customer, and Vendor, there is no Number Range object associated with Site Master. Therefore you can’t limit or control a user’s choice of Site number when creating a Site.

What’s more, leading zeros are relevant for Site number! It’s possible to create both Site 11 and Site 0011, because 11 and 0011 are not the same number (of course, different Business Partner Customers would be required).

The only thing preventing some Sites being created with leading zeros and others being created without leading zeros is user training.

Site number 11 and 0011 are both possible because leading zeros are relevant.

Fortunately, the risk of data entry errors is mitigated by the fact that it’s typical for only two — or a few — users to have authorization to create Sites. This is true even in very large organizations with thousands of Sites.

My advice is to never use leading zeros, mainly because it violates the rule that all Site Master objects have the same 4-character number.

If you create Site 11 then a user can consistently enter “11” to identify the Site component, regardless of business process. If you create Site 0011 then a user must enter 0011 on some screens and must enter 11 on other screens, depending on the business process.