Digital vendor managed inventory (VMI) platforms have made supply chain automation fast and affordable. But not all VMIs are created equally. Be sure to choose a platform that doesn’t require complicated ERP or MRP integration and one that offers crucial supplier and distributor collaboration.
In the past three decades, VMI platforms have become a popular and smart way to re-direct manual labor, streamline supply chains, reduce costs, and improve product consumption visibility. Walmart was one of the first adopters in the 1980s and used VMI to manage its gigantic supply chain. However, VMI is no longer just for large companies.
VMI platforms have evolved to being a useful tool for companies of all sizes. And thanks to the Internet of Things and revolutionary technologies like RFID, implementation is easier than ever.
In general terms, VMI platforms allow a third party to manage inventories for manufacturers and other companies. The vendor is responsible for ensuring that the right products go to the right places at the right time and that the inventory shelves are never empty.
A digital VMI is much more robust. It manages complex supply chains, reduces labor and other costs, provides part consumption data and visibility, and reduces human errors.
However, some manufacturers shy away from automation because they often believe that implementing it can be scary, time consuming, and costs prohibitive. The ShelfAware platform debunks those concerns and demonstrates how you can implement a robust digital VMI supply chain management system today and be automated tomorrow.
How Digital VMI Helps Smaller Companies Get Automated Quickly
Automating a complex supply chain in one day seems impossible. But ShelfAware makes it happen for many reasons. Here are some ways a robust digital VMI helps small-to-medium-sized companies embrace automation quickly, effectively, easily, and affordably.
1. There is no need to integrate with current ERP and MRP systems.
ShelfAware is a digital VMI platform that is designed to complement a company’s current ERP or MRP, not replace it. There is no need for integration to get a quick return on investment.
2. Integration is fast and easy.
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.
3. Managing a complex supply chain doesn’t have to be expensive.
Better inventory management equates to leaner on-hand inventory. This leads to less waste and fewer people required to manage your inventory. The ability to place a single PO with a single VMI partner allows you to reduce hidden soft costs that add up over many parts and many orders.
ShelfAware’s sophisticated software and hardware solution is a service, so it’s billed monthly for only $500 per month. Once ShelfAware is installed, there are no other upfront costs. The hardware uses standard off-the-shelf Zebra products, so it’s inexpensive and readily available.
The RFID-powered smart labels add about 5 cents for package tracking. That quickly pays for itself with the massive amounts of consumption data they produce.
4. Technologies streamline processes.
Digital VMI systems leverage technologies like RFID to automate simple and complex processes throughout your supply chain. This creates a more efficient way to manage how each part is ordered, delivered, stored, and replenished.
5. Collaboration creates expanded opportunities with other suppliers and consumers.
Through the use of collaborative innovations like ShelfAware’s CloudSourcingTM, small businesses are quickly becoming the new “Big Business” in industrial manufacturing. CloudSourcing empowers collaboration among multiple independent and specialized product vertical suppliers. It empowers all suppliers to work together with a single consumer on ShelfAware’s unified supply chain platform.
6. Digital VMI provides improved data accuracy and visibility.
Digital VMI solutions make the entire supply chain workflow more efficient–from the plant floor to the top of the supply chain. When all departments have better visibility into inventory levels and consumption they can make better data-driven decisions and avoid stockouts.
7. Digital VMI platforms improve workflow and productivity.
Inventory management is a step in the right direction, but that alone cannot promise increased productivity for your organization. A good digital VMI partner will assess your current workflow from receiving to routing to replenishment and find ways to remove steps, saving time and money.
How to Get Started Implementing a Digital VMI Platform
Digitizing inventory doesn’t have to be an expensive or overwhelming task. In fact, with a platform like ShelfAware, suppliers and consumers can make more money with less worries and eliminate stockouts with an easy-to-manage, cloud-based digital vender management inventory system.
Embracing automation is an important first step. To get your first taste of automation, try a digital VMI platform like ShelfAware. It’s an easy entry for companies looking to flex their first digital muscle.
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.