Mastering Inventory Optimization: The Power of Economic Order Quantity (EOQ)


Economic order quantity (EOQ) is a vital inventory management concept that helps businesses strike a balance between meeting demand and minimizing inventory costs. Developed by Ford W. Harris in 1913, EOQ considers factors like ordering, holding, and shortage costs. This article explores the EOQ formula, its applications, and its limitations to aid businesses in optimizing their inventory practices.

What is economic order quantity (EOQ)?

Economic order quantity (EOQ) represents the ideal quantity of units a company should purchase to meet demand while minimizing inventory costs such as holding costs, shortage costs, and order costs. This production-scheduling model, initially formulated by Ford W. Harris in 1913, has evolved over time.

Formula for calculating economic order quantity (EOQ)

The EOQ formula is:

EOQ = √((2 × D × S) / H)


  • EOQ is the economic order quantity
  • D is the annual demand or usage
  • S is the cost per order or setup cost
  • H is the holding cost per unit per year

The EOQ formula helps identify the optimal number of product units to order, minimizing costs for purchasing, delivering, and storing units. It can be adapted to various production levels or order intervals.

Benefits of economic order quantity

The EOQ formula offers several advantages:

Weigh the risks and benefits

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

  • Minimizes total inventory costs
  • Optimizes cash flow by reducing tied-up capital
  • Determines reorder points to prevent stockouts
  • Assumes constant demand, which may not always be the case
  • Doesn’t account for variable inventory costs or purchase discounts

How to use EOQ

EOQ considers the timing of reordering, order costs, and holding costs. For instance, if a company frequently places small orders, costs rise due to increased ordering and the need for additional storage space.

Let’s consider an example:

Assume a retail clothing shop sells 1,000 pairs of jeans annually. The cost to hold a pair of jeans in inventory is $5 per year, and the fixed order cost is $2.

The EOQ formula would be: √((2 × 1,000 pairs × $2 order cost) / ($5 holding cost)) ≈ 28.3, rounded up to slightly more than 28 pairs of jeans. This is the ideal order size to minimize costs while meeting customer demand.

Limitations of EOQ

While EOQ is a valuable tool, it has limitations:

  • Assumes constant consumer demand
  • Doesn’t account for changing inventory costs, lost sales due to shortages, or purchase discounts

Frequently asked questions

What factors influence the economic order quantity (EOQ)?

Several factors can influence EOQ:

  • Ordering Costs: Higher ordering costs can lead to a larger EOQ, as it becomes more economical to place fewer, larger orders.
  • Holding Costs: If holding costs per unit per year increase, the EOQ tends to decrease to reduce storage expenses.
  • Demand Variability: An unpredictable demand pattern may require businesses to adjust their EOQ more frequently.
  • Lead Time: Longer lead times may necessitate larger EOQs to ensure adequate stock during production delays.
  • Shortage Costs: High costs associated with running out of stock may lead to a larger EOQ to minimize the risk of shortages.

Are there different variations of the EOQ model?

Yes, there are variations of the EOQ model to address specific scenarios:

  • Basic EOQ: The traditional EOQ model assumes constant demand, holding, and ordering costs.
  • Dynamic EOQ: This model accounts for changing variables, making it suitable for businesses with fluctuating demand or costs.
  • Economic Production Quantity (EPQ): EPQ considers in-house production and ordering simultaneously, allowing for more precise inventory management.
  • Safety Stock: Safety stock is used alongside EOQ to buffer against unexpected demand fluctuations, ensuring product availability.

What are the practical steps to implement EOQ?

Implementing EOQ involves the following steps:

  1. Identify all relevant costs, including ordering, holding, and shortage costs.
  2. Determine the annual demand for the product.
  3. Calculate the EOQ using the EOQ formula: EOQ = √((2 × D × S) / H).
  4. Set a reorder point to initiate orders when inventory falls to a certain level.
  5. Monitor inventory levels and adjust the EOQ as needed based on changing conditions.

Can EOQ be applied to service-based businesses?

While EOQ was originally developed for manufacturing, its principles can be adapted for service-based businesses by considering factors like service demand, appointment scheduling, and resource availability.

What are the benefits of using EOQ software?

EOQ software automates the calculation and management of EOQ, offering benefits such as:

  • Accuracy: Reduced risk of human error in calculations.
  • Efficiency: Faster and more frequent EOQ updates based on real-time data.
  • Cost Savings: Optimization of inventory levels leads to reduced holding and ordering costs.
  • Forecasting: Some software can incorporate demand forecasting for more precise EOQ determination.

Is EOQ suitable for all types of products?

EOQ is generally suitable for products with stable demand patterns. It may not be ideal for products with highly unpredictable demand, short shelf lives, or those subject to rapid technological changes.

How often should EOQ be recalculated?

The frequency of EOQ recalculations depends on factors like demand variability and cost fluctuations. Some businesses recalculate EOQ quarterly or annually, while others may do so more frequently to adapt to changing conditions.

Can EOQ help reduce environmental impact?

EOQ can indirectly contribute to environmental sustainability by minimizing excess inventory, which can lead to less waste and a reduced carbon footprint. However, it’s essential to consider eco-friendly practices beyond EOQ for a more significant environmental impact.

Key takeaways

  • EOQ helps minimize inventory costs while meeting demand.
  • The formula considers constant demand, order costs, and holding costs.
  • EOQ is crucial for efficient inventory management but may not account for dynamic market conditions.
View article sources
  1. Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) – DAU Acquipedia
  2. Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) –
  3. Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) | Formula, Factors… Finance Strategists