What Is Economic Order Quantity and How Do You Calculate It?

Calculating Economic Order Quantity ensures you stock the right amount of inventory to meet customer demand. It eliminates the chances of overstocking items that not only tie down your capital but also bloats up inventory costs and holding costs.

In this post, we will explore the concept of Economic Order Quantity, share insights on the benefits it offers and show you how to calculate it.

What is Economic Order Quantity

economic order quantity calculation

At its core, Economic Order Quantity is a calculation designed to determine the ideal order quantity that minimizes the total costs associated with ordering and storing inventory. These costs, often seen as opposing forces, include the order costs (expenses incurred each time an order is placed) and holding costs (costs to store the inventory). EOQ strives to find the sweet spot where the combined costs are at their lowest, thereby optimizing inventory levels.

6 Reasons Why You Should Calculate Economic Order Quantity

Helps You Optimize Inventory Levels

The primary advantage of EOQ is its ability to pinpoint the optimal inventory level that balances order costs with holding costs. This equilibrium ensures that businesses are not overstocking (thus tying up unnecessary capital and incurring excessive holding costs) or understocking (which can lead to stockouts and lost sales).

Instrumental In Streamlining Inventory Management

  • Reduced Holding Costs: By maintaining only the necessary inventory levels, businesses can significantly cut down on storage, insurance, and obsolescence costs.

  • Minimized Order Costs: EOQ helps spread out ordering costs over larger, yet optimal, order quantities, reducing the per-unit ordering cost.

Enhances Cash Flow

By optimizing inventory levels, EOQ directly contributes to better cash flow management. With less capital tied up in excess inventory, businesses have more flexibility to invest in growth opportunities, pay down debt, or handle unexpected expenses.

Lower inventory levels mean less need for financing to support inventory costs, reducing interest expenses and improving profitability.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

EOQ contributes to more reliable inventory levels, reducing the risk of stockouts and ensuring that customer demands are met promptly. This reliability can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, which are crucial for long-term success.

This is because optimal inventory levels mean orders can be fulfilled more quickly and accurately. The long-term result of this is a stronger brand reputation.

Allows You To Allocate Resources Efficiently

Calculating EOQ allows businesses to make informed decisions about resource allocation. By minimizing unnecessary inventory costs, resources can be redirected towards more strategic initiatives, such as product development, marketing, or expansion efforts.

Savings from optimized inventory management can be invested in areas that directly contribute to business growth.

Enables Data-Driven Decision Making

EOQ is not just a formula; it’s a framework for making data-driven decisions regarding inventory management. By relying on concrete data, businesses can move away from guesswork and intuition, adopting a more strategic approach to managing their inventory.

Real-time data analysis enables quicker adjustments to EOQ calculations in response to market changes.

Challenges And Limitations of Economic Order Quantity

Fluctuating Demand

In an ideal world, businesses enjoy constant demand, making it easy to accurately calculate EOQ. But we live in a real world and there’s nothing ideal about it. These variations in demand can render EOQ calculations inaccurate, leading to stockouts or excessive inventory.

Variable Costs

EOQ assumes that both ordering and holding costs are a fixed cost. In reality, these costs can fluctuate due to changes in supplier pricing, storage costs, and even economic conditions. Such variability complicates the EOQ calculation, potentially leading to suboptimal ordering decisions.

Lead Time Uncertainties

Lead time—the time between placing an order and receiving it—can significantly impact inventory management. EOQ models typically assume stable lead times, which is often not the case. Delays can lead to stockouts, while early deliveries might increase holding cost.

Inventory Shortages

Inventory shortages can also hamper the effectiveness of EOQ calculation.

Economic Order Quantity Formula

The formula for calculating EOQ is as follows:

  • Annual Demand (D): Understanding the total quantity of inventory needed over a year is crucial. This demands accurate demand forecasting.

  • Order Cost (S): Also known as setup cost, this encompasses all costs related to placing an order, such as procurement, shipping, and receiving.

  • Holding Cost (H): These are the costs of storing the inventory until it’s sold, including warehousing, insurance, and spoilage.

EOQ Calculation Example

Let’s say you run a fashion retail outlet selling men’s tees. To meet customer demands, you need to purchase 1,000 units of tees a year. Holding each tee costs $2 on average a year and you incur a setup cost of $20 for your orders.

The EOQ will come out at:

EOQ = √2 x 1000 x 20/2

EOQ = 141

This means to keep your inventory balanced, you need to order 141 units of items each time you place a demand with your supplier.


Economic Order Quantity is a powerful tool in the arsenal of any business striving for efficient inventory management. By optimizing order sizes and reducing related costs, EOQ can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. As with any model, its effectiveness hinges on the accuracy of the underlying assumptions and parameters. Businesses are encouraged to consider EOQ as part of a broader, dynamic approach to inventory management, constantly adapting to changing market conditions and internal constraints.


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