VMI continues to be a productive technology to manage high moving items in many electrical storerooms, and for good reasons. Number one is efficiency. Electrical storeroom managers have a lot on their plates every day – from managing monthly budgets to providing the reporting their organizations expect to reconciling invoices and acting as the help desk for the facility. The last thing they need is having to count VMI items, or for that matter, worry if they have enough of the right parts in stock.
Second is responsibility. Delegating this to an electrical distributor makes sense. They know electrical products, what items are best in class or simply best value. And they know which items are obsolete. Handing that off to someone who’s in the business removes that from the storeroom manager’s list. Allowing the distributor to manage stock levels and replenishment puts the responsibility in the right. area. This post explores recent changes in VMI technology that make the process faster and easier while providing customers with better reporting options and, if desired, some self-serve options.
Opening the VMI portal
VMI systems contain a great wealth of historical purchase data. Getting at that data hasn’t always been easy. Thanks to new software and changes in processes, we have opened that portal. Customers can now pull down real-time data for any date range so they can see actual usage by week, by month or whatever filter they wish to apply.
One of our service representatives, Chris Deen, noted, “Customers always want the most accurate, up to date data they can get, especially purchasing. Our new system (Tofino) will give them control and access like never before.”
For some customers, especially OEMs and panel builders, there are additional benefits –
- Ability to do cost breakdown by project or job.
- Granularity of reporting – by product, for example.
- Better cost control which equals more competitiveness in their markets.
It’s no secret that in order to cover miscellaneous items such as wiring devices, terminal strips and other electrical accessories, OEMs add a percentage to each job. Percentages vary, but it’s safe to say that these costs can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to a job. With increasing cost pressures from their customers, greater transparency of costs is an important element to winning business.
See what a configurable usage report looks like.
Self serve options improved
Some customers need VMI support but their usage levels might be low, or irregular, thus making regular visits by a customer support rep not always possible. Chris Deen said, “We have customers in remote areas who need the support and value what we bring – knowledge of electrical parts and customer service – but their usage doesn’t justify regular visits.”
Now with the Tofino platform, customers can, if they wish, conduct scans themselves and download to the web platform. We can support them by fulfilling on demand – when they need it – rather than on a periodic basis. We are able to reach more customers, faster in a larger geography. The new web-based system allows addition of P.O.s or job codes as the customer requires. All this data of course is retained in the reporting system.
Storeroom visits take less time since there’s no counting of SKUs. It cuts our time on site half, allowing more time to interact with customers. This means we are able to reach more customers in less time We have started to implement the new Tofino platform now, with plans to roll it out across our service area this coming year.
For a closer look at VMI system improvements, or to arrange a demonstration, contact ISTeam@EECO-net.com. Or call 800.993.3326