If you’ve decided that vendor managed inventory is the right fit for your company, then you’ve likely launched the process of finding a VMI partner that fits your needs. Vendor managed inventory systems are a fantastic choice for various businesses across a wide array of industries, but how do you know which VMI business partner or which VMI system to choose?
Efficient supply chain management is essential to keep your operations running smoothly. You have a production schedule to maintain. You want your industrial suppliers to work with your schedule and your demand
What is Vendor Managed Inventory?
Before digging into finding the perfect VMI partner, we want to talk about what vendor managed inventory is all about. Vendor managed inventory is the process of vendors creating orders for customers based on their demand, with inventory levels tracked by the VMI partner.
A vendor managed inventory agreement allows you’re VMI partner to handle your stock, restock, and shipment information. The responsibility for inventory management falls completely on the shoulders of your VMI partner. You can imagine how much easier business operations become when this aspect of your business logistics is routinely and professionally managed, giving you the freedom to focus your efforts elsewhere.
A great vendor managed inventory example is retail monster Amazon, who bases most of their stock and warehouse supply on VMI. You can order almost anything on Amazon, and they don’t take or have the time to go through each item and place an order routinely.
Instead, Amazon uses VMI, and its suppliers track when inventory gets low and uses automated technology to ship to Amazon when this happens. This way, the stock is replenished without the need to contact the supplier.
An example closer to home is how we work with some of our customers that use band saws. Some of these saws are in motion all the time, so the blades wear out quickly. Rather than shutting down production to order more blades, a VMI system stops production only long enough to switch out the blades they have on hand. The customer never runs out of blades or has to worry about not having any ready to go.
How Does Vendor Managed Inventory Work?
The process of vendor managed inventory is straightforward. All it requires is that the customer shares information about the products and parts they need to have on hand. Once you set up supplier access to your product list, the VMI partner will keep careful track of the industrial supplies they deliver to your business. When your stock is low, they won’t require contact from you to deliver.
Many VMI companies will ship items out for you and then provide you with a monthly invoice. Guidelines and requirements differ from company to company, but it’s typically easy to find a solution that will work for you.
Benefits of Vendor Managed Inventory
No matter what you stock for your business, from bandsaws and bandsaw blades to abrasives and fasteners, there are plenty of benefits that come along with partnering with a VMI company. These include:
- Aligning inventory with customer demands
- Improved data projections and insights
- Streamlined stock and shipping processes
- Improved sales
- Better distribution of employee time
- Clearer company goals
What Types of Companies Use Vendor Managed Inventory?
VMI isn’t just for those that need a regular stock of stainless fasteners and stainless steel fittings. There are plenty of companies that utilize the convenience of VMI partners, including those in manufacturing, food processing, auto supply stores, large retailers, home improvement warehouses, and gift shops of all sizes.
VMI suppliers come in all shapes and sizes. If your company is currently searching for the perfect associate, here are five things that you’ll want to finalize before making the deal.
The vendor you choose should have plenty of proven experience regarding managing customer inventory efficiently. Your new partner should focus on your cost savings, with systems in place to provide their services flawlessly.
You’ll want to ask them to show you the advanced capabilities they have to offer an outstanding level of service. An automated fulfillment service is recommended but not completely necessary.
The Support of Senior Management
It would be best if you had the support of your senior management team to integrate a successful VMI partner program. Without the assistance of those that help you run your businesses like the well-oiled machine it is, you’ll be unable to translate to the rest of your employees that VMI is an efficient program.
Be clear about changes to come, and ensure everyone knows the role they will play. A great VMI company will help you with anything you need during the transitional period.
Proper Employee Training
Your new VMI partner should be transparent regarding how their business processes work so you can adequately convey them to your team. For a VMI partnership to truly work, employees have to know what’s going on, and you have to be able to provide them the training that makes it possible.
Dedication to the Partnership
Your new VMI partner should be intent on making your business relationship successful, and the same level of commitment has to come from your side as well. Based on trust, a strong partnership is a key to a VMI program succeeding for your vocation. When you’re shopping around for your potential VMI partner, choose a provider that puts your partnership first.
The Importance of the Follow-Up
A fantastic VMI partner understands the importance of following up with their clients. All vendor managed inventory providers must follow up regularly via their vendor contact. This communication is the only way to monitor and improve inventory operations continually.
Making the VMI Choice
Choosing a VMI partner is a huge investment, both of your time and in your business. Don’t hesitate to shop around, as there may be quite a bit available to you, depending on your industry.
GTA Industrial Supply is a leading supplier of industrial suppliers to companies all around Atlanta and north Georgia. We work with many of our customers to set up efficient VMI systems that serve to not only increase efficiencies but to help save money. Contact us today at 678.288.5881 to talk about how vendor managed inventory can help your business.