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What is ShelfAware and How Does it Work? Frequently Asked Questions

What is ShelfAware and How Does it Work? Frequently Asked Questions

ShelfAware equips industrial suppliers with RFID smart labels for inventory management that turns complex supply chains into virtual vending machines. This robust digital vendor managed inventory (VMI) system is a supply chain automation platform that equips business-to-business suppliers with a next generation supply chain solution for consumers of physical inventory goods.

Does your company manage a complex supply chain of hundreds or thousands of components? ShelfAware educates and equips suppliers by applying RFID-powered Smart Labels to component packaging and then deploying an RFID checkout station at the point of use.

This supply chain solution creates a virtual vending machine that is supplier agnostic—if you like your current supplier you can keep them. The platform is flexible enough to work on any product mix or type—if you can stick a label to it we can track it. The RFID-powered magical user interface is championed by users and creates granular, accurate consumption data.

CEO Andrew Johnson answers some of the most frequently asked questions about ShelfAware.

How Does the ShelfAware Technology Work?

The ShelfAware platform focuses on RFID Smart Labels as a data collector. ShelfAware Smart Labels are printed on standard Zebra label printers and applied at the time of shipping by suppliers. ShelfAware deploys an RFID checkout station on behalf of the supplier at the consumer facility. This magical user interface is capable of tracking the consumption of thousands of inventory packages in seconds ensuring broad user adoption. This inventory consumption data is leveraged by the ShelfAware web-based application to automate replenishment, ensure lean inventory quantities, and guarantee no stockouts.

How Does ShelfAware Solve Problems for Its Customers?

ShelfAware effectively automates B2B supply chains, saving time and labor for both the supplier and the consumer. Case studies have shown that ShelfAware is 85% more efficient than traditional supply chain processes.

Who is the Ideal Customer for ShelfAware?

It is important to remember that ShelfAware is designed to solve problems for both ends of the supply chain—the supplier and the consumer. This win-win is unique to ShelfAware.

While attracting consumers—typically manufacturers—as a wonderful by-product of our efforts, ShelfAware is a great fit for any business trying to remotely manage a complex physical inventory. More specifically, ShelfAware was designed to automate industrial wholesale supply chains and provide a platform for independent industrial suppliers to collaborate and collectively supply the industry’s largest consumers on an automated, omnichannel.

What Was Your Inspiration for Creating ShelfAware?

Originally, ShelfAware was built by industrial practitioners who were struggling to accommodate the growing demand for onsite inventory management. As an industrial supplier of rubber and plastic components, we needed a more efficient way to monitor our manufacturing customer’s inventory consumption.

For years, we had been sending a sales representative to our customer’s facility weekly to visually inspect the on-hand inventory and determine a restocking order. Simply put, we wanted our valuable employee at our offices, not spending time at the customer’s facility.

Large industrial suppliers like Fastenal, Granger, and MSC have the physical footprint (branch locations and thousands of sales representatives) to offer the industry a broad level of vendor managed inventory (VMI) services. This necessity for physical scale left smaller, independent suppliers to compete regionally, or not compete at all, when the customer base demanded this higher level of service.

How Does the ShelfAware Checkout Station Work?

This patented piece of hardware is the only hardware that is left at the consumer’s location. With only one flashing light for the consumer to interact with, the table has a simple design.  All of the RFID hardware is enclosed inside locked drawers to prevent tampering.

Because of the affordability and flexibility of the tables, multiple checkout stations are available for each facility. The only requirement for each table is an internet connection.

Does ShelfAware Need to be Integrated with our ERP?

The ShelfAware platform does not require integration with your ERP to give you a valuable return on investment. The platform is designed to be quick and flexible with ROI for almost any setup in as little as three months.

How Do Package and Shelf Quantities Work?

The shelf quantity includes everything contained within a package and unit bin. The package quantities are flexible and customizable based on your needs. The package quantities are designed to be consumable meeting your production needs. If a particular build requires 44 units, we can package the pieces in packages of 44.

Shelf quantities are designed to be lean, but without the possibility of stockouts.

The consumption data that is collected should be detailed enough to produce valuable analytics, forecasts, and trends. This keeps you stocked in the required parts, but keeps your inventory lean. To collect that kind of data, we need to track smaller quantities that produce granular and accurate consumption data.

What If I Only Need a Few Pieces From a Package?

The package quantities can be flexible and can change. If the need is smaller than the package quantity, you can tear the bag open and remove one piece at a time. When the bag is empty, it is then scanned to track the inventory and alert the ShelfAware system that the package has been consumed.

How Do I Get Started With a Robust Digital VMI?

Implementing ShelfAware’s robust platform is often complex but does not need to be slow. It begins with a group conversation involving a mix of finance, operations and IT professionals. A site audit (often multiple sites) is usually required before a proposal can be made.

Final proposals usually involve a formal stocking agreement, installation fee, and a product pricing quote. Onboarding consumers varies widely, but the minimum time required to convert a supply chain in most markets is about three months.

Want to learn more about an affordable way to automate your supply chain? Request your free ShelfAware demo 

Too good to be true?  ShelfAware is redefining the vendor-managed inventory industry. For this reason, we’re happy to talk to you about how our intelligent inventory platform can benefit your business. Contact us today for more information.

More articles about using a digital vendor managed inventory system to solve your supply chain challenges:

Automation Simplifies Inventory Management for Manufacturers

10 Reasons Why RFID is Better than Barcodes

Common Mistakes Manufacturers Make When Automating Inventory Management

3 Must-Have Features of Effective Digital VMI

How Manufacturers Can Automate Inventory Management Quickly, Effectively, and Inexpensively

How Automation Solves America’s Broken Supply Chain

How Supply Chain Automation Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge

Everything You Need to Know About Digital Vendor Managed Inventory

Why Cloud SourcingTM is a Game Changer for Digital VMI Systems

How Energy Manufacturing Tackled Inventory Challenges with an Affordable, Easy-to-Use Supply Chain Solution

What Kinds of Manufacturing Businesses Can Benefit from Inventory Management Software?

Top 10 Advantages of RFID Inventory Tracking

7 Ways to Save Time and Money with an RFID Inventory Management System

How Automation Improves Manufacturing Operational Efficiency

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