Almost all companies must safeguard against the threat of stockouts. Among types of inventory, Just-in-Case inventory (JIC) means preparing for supply disruptions, sudden spikes in demand, and all manner of uncertainty in business.
While JIC meanings have changed over time, the term was coined in the 1960s. It was then that businesses started to get serious about “safety stock,” having inventory on hand to adapt with consumer demand and drying supply chains.
Learn the definition of JIT inventory, and discover the advantages, disadvantages, and practical examples you need to decide on the ideal stocking approach for your business. Read on to get the essentials of Just-in-Case inventory.
Key Takeaway: Just-in-Case (JIC) inventory strategically prepares businesses to ride out changes to customer buying patterns, supply chains, and economic conditions with a large, buffering supply.
JIC Meaning: What is JIC Inventory?
Just-in-Case (JIC) merchandise inventory strategically supplies companies with large amounts of necessary stock to protect the business from short supply. JIC means helping managers prevent stockouts and ride out supply chain mishaps. It also assists a business to rise to customer demand as it rises suddenly, never missing a beat despite hikes in need.
You can compare a Just-in-Case inventory to the JIT approach, a Just-in-Time inventory where things arrive as needed by the business, a kind of work-in-process inventory. By contrast, a JIC inventory prepares businesses for every possibility by having consistent reserves to keep running despite economic or environmental upsets.
Usually, a business chooses JIC inventory as a preventative measure. To protect the business from sales loss and to maintain customer satisfaction, they stock up Just-in-Case inventories to give themselves flexibility. Still, it’s not right for every company, as you’ll see, since storage and unused inventory costs can bring their own obstacles.
JIT Advantages: The Best of Just-in-Case Inventory
Overall, Just-in-Case inventory prevents lost sales, protects customer satisfaction rates, and brings flexibility to business operations as it faces uncertainty in supply and demand. During times of disruption, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, JIC inventory helped the economy and businesses continue a paced survival despite rampant shutdowns.
Readiness is a clear advantage to stocking large amounts of inventory to cut supply chain risks and customer demand pressures. The result of being highly prepared and well-stocked inventory can mean peace of mind for inventory management and leadership, knowing that business can continue as usual regardless of economic turns and unforeseeable flux.
At the same time, Just-in-Case inventory promotes the pace of sales, ensuring that stockouts won’t shrink the possibility of profits at the first gust of change. And, JIC means a decent boost to loyalty and brand positivity, showing the business is committed, thoughtful, and attentive to customer needs—even as they surge.
Consequently, JIC inventory approaches can translate to better customer retention, especially during critical periods of difficulty for other, less-stocked businesses. All these benefits come from the flexibility that Just-in-Case inventories bring by buffering businesses against waves in supply chains, customer demand, and outside factors.
Pros of Just-in-Case Inventory
- Prevents supply chain disruption to business
- Addresses pressure of customer demand changes
- Results in peace of mind for managers and leadership
- Promotes a steady pace for sales without stock-based shrinkage
- Stands to boost customer satisfaction and retention through consistency
- Translates into operative flexibility for businesses buffered against change
JIC Drawbacks: Cons for Just-in-Case Inventory
Regardless of its important benefits, Just-in-Case inventory can’t serve every business. There are limits to the practicality of being prepared with emergency, demand-ready supplies. One major drawback is the cost of inventory storage associated with maintaining JIC inventories.
Beyond the cost of the space required to store JIC inventory, there is also the issue of wasted stock. If the items don’t sell or aren’t ultimately needed, the business faces costs that could have been avoided. Of course, this is an issue for all inventory, but the amount required to be ready “JIC” means sometimes magnifying that issue.
The prospect of Just-in-Case inventory means bearing more upfront costs in the process of amassing the buffering supplies, products, and stock to gain flexibility. These inventory management techniques also won’t make sense for businesses who struggle to adequately track large quantities of supplies. In that sense, JIC inventory can cost more: it can be quite labor intensive and time-consuming for small operations.
If a business uses manual tracking, rather than a cloud-based inventory system, the problem could be enlarged. Warehouse inventory management and leadership may find themselves worrying more about overgrown inventory than enjoying the peace of mind and flexibility intended by taking the JIC strategy on board.
Cons of Just-in-Case Inventory
- Not right for all business types and strategies
- Brings costs for storage and maintenance of large stock
- Requires more space and investment of labor than other options
- Potentially magnifies the problem of wasted, costly, and unsold inventory
- Bears more costs prior to guaranteed sales to secure flexibility and preparation
- Stresses the importance of efficient, modern, and scaling inventory management
JIC Examples: Just-In-Case Inventory in Practice
Just-in-Case inventory helps many industries and businesses ready themselves against unpredictable shifts in customer behavior, supply chains, and economic conditions. Since inventory forecasting affects businesses of every kind, the JIC inventory strategy has potential applications in many contexts, though it may not fit every business perfectly in practice.
Some of the best examples are in healthcare, automotive, and restaurants. Hospitals, for instance, are well-known for using the JIC inventory approach—and for good reason. Considering that the health and life of patients may be at stake during shortages, it’s clear that healthcare and similar services benefit from investing in the storage of extensive supplies.
On the other hand, groups like Toyota provide a good example of JIC inventory. Toyota has been highly successful in maintaining a lean production model by stockpiling the semiconductors that help it move forward. It’s obvious that for high-priced, constantly demanded products, there’s little time to wait on supply chain upsets to halt their standards.
Further, since restaurants are one of the first to suffer from supply disruptions, many chains are in the practice of using JIC inventory strategies (overseen by quick-to-draw inventory scanners). This cuts the risk of not being able to offer their customers the expected dish with all the cutlery and containers expected by ensuring a constant supply of essential goods.
While so many industries show the clear advantages of the supply-ready, JIC approach, they also demonstrate the importance of efficiency while doing so. None of these industries or examples are blind to the idea that supplies cost, inventory wastes, and that even storage has a shelf-life. For inventory days or days outstanding and other vital calculations, however, cloud-based warehouse control systems ensure success.
Frequently Asked Questions About JIC Meanings
Get the answers to the most common questions about the JIC meaning. Find out how to apply the concept of Just-in-Case inventory to business and see how it can be a part of efficient logistics.
What does JIC stand for in business?
JIC means Just-in-Case. Applied to an approach in business, Just-in-Case inventory means taking the strategy of securing large amounts of stock and supplies to feed logistics despite upsets in supply and demand.
How are JIT and JIC inventory different?
Mostly, the difference between “Just-in-Case” (JIC) and “Just-in-Time” (JIT) inventory is a matter of priorities. JIC is prepared for every change in the market or customer preference while JIT responds “just in time” as necessary.
JIC strategies prefer to be ready for changes to supply and demand with flexibility, drawing on well-stocked supplies to keep businesses operating regardless of conditions. JIT inventories arrive as needed, on the other hand, as a cost-cutting, inventory reduction approach.
What is an example of JIC inventory?
A grocery store is one of the best examples of JIC inventory. They must be prepared for high level of uncertainty within supply chains and customer buying patterns.
People constantly need food and grocery supplies—magnified by events, holidays, weather, and much more. Likewise, grocers keep a large inventory of both perishable and non-perishable goods to be always ready for changes in conditions, even surges in demand and social pressures.