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Post-webinar Interview with Tom Hoar on Improving Supply Chain Collaboration with Today's Vendor Managed Inventory

Earlier this year, TrueCommerce Datalliance hosted a webinar, “Improving Supply Chain Collaboration with Today’s Vendor Managed Inventory.” Today, we’re talking with one of the presenters from that webinar, TrueCommerce Datalliance’s Director of Sales Tom Hoar. Tom, thanks for sitting down with us to answer a few follow-up questions.

In your presentation, you mention Apple and Nike as companies who have responded to omnichannel marketing by no longer following the traditional supply chain model. Are only the “big guys” shedding the traditional model or is this possible for smaller companies, too?

We all know that the complexity of consumer demand has shifted drastically, making it necessary for all companies to evaluate change.Smaller companies tend to be more agile and can adapt to change quicker, but on a smaller scale due to resource (time, skill and money) constraints.Larger companies can make a “bigger” market splash, however, their decision making process and financial investments tend to require a more formal process and longer decision timeframes. Managing and anticipating change helps companies capitalize on market opportunities. With rapidly changing technology many companies aren’t even aware there are solutions to some of the problems they face on a daily basis. Being open and active about change allows companies to capitalize on those advances.

What about the cost structure? Is it different for smaller companies?

With cloud based services and specialized technology offerings, any company can tackle their supply chain needs.Investment in not only funds but time is critical in this area. Since data is king in being able to manage a complex supply chain the good news is the cost of storing data continues to drop. Companies shouldn’t assume that they are too small for any technology service.

Omnichannel can be complex. How can TrueCommerce help untangle everything?

TrueCommerce offers a comprehensive group of supply chain products that can help companies embrace change and gain efficiency.There are many go to market channels for selling, but the key to unlock the potential of those sales is connectivity and collaboration. TrueCommerce specializes in those areas whether it is EDI, Supplier Management, Inventory Management or dealing with ecommerce and shipping, we can help companies succeed. We take the time to understand your challenges and suggesting a product platform to help you out.

Are those services à la carte?

TrueCommerce services and products can be bundled or à la carte. It depends on the situation and company needs. TrueCommerce will also help a company think through their future needs as well.

During the webinar, you also mentioned routes to market, specifically, Distribution Center; Direct to Store; Multi-stop; and Cross-dock. Are those the only routes to market supported by VMI?

Vendor Managed Inventory is a tool to help a supplier and customer collaborate to gain effectiveness in the inventory investment and product mix.The routes listed above are typical, but you may find a supply chain that has a hybrid of the routes listed above, plus more and more companies are looking at direct to consumer as well. We have the knowledge to handle all of those.

Can you give an overview of how TrueCommerce Datalliance’s platform is able to generate real-time data sets?

The TrueCommerce Datalliance VMI platform gathers daily sales/usage and inventory position information and calculates order point and order quantity for each product at a given location.The replenishment configurations and system functionality allow a supplier to gain the best in-stock position balancing the inventory investment and taking into account transaction cost.It is an advanced way to handle product replenishment and service customers across the world.

How is that information transmitted?

Electronic data interchange (EDI), flat file formats, file transfer protocol (FTP) or really anyway a distributor or retailer can extract it from their business system.

And, how frequently is that information updated?

This information is collected daily at the close of business.

Your partner in the webinar, Doug Bethea, demonstrated some of the capabilities of your VMI platform, like truck building and other features. Is it possible for potential customers to get a personal demonstration?

Of course. We want all our prospects to be comfortable in our supply chain tools. They typically are very easy to use and navigate. It’s like buying a car, you want to know and understand all of the features of the car before you buy it.

If someone wants to implement a VMI program, you recommend them to target their top 10 distributors or retail partners. Which is more important during targeting, sales volume or growth opportunity?

I recommend their top 10 as a starting point. Many companies are confused on how to get started. Starting a VMI program is not typically complex, but it is not something you do every day.TCDA helps suppliers gain a framework to get started.Since you need a partner in VMI, talking through your top 10 provides a solid starting point.

Once you have identified targets, how does someone adequately present the value of VMI to their trading partners?

Either Datalliance or the supplier presents the value of VMI to the trading partners. It’s pretty simple for the distributor or retailer – if they like better metrics and consider the supplier a valued partner, they typically will move this VMI initiative forward.

When should someone who’s thinking about VMI reach out to a vendor like TrueCommerce Datalliance?

Most people like to do their own research on VMI so I recommend they to go to Datalliance.com and review the information on our website. Or some like to start with an expert and then do additional research. Regardless, I would hate for a supplier not to consider all areas of evaluation before starting and, more importantly, I want all suppliers to be aligned internally and with their customers, which is something we can help with.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Nobody should fear vendor managed inventory. Suppliers and distributors/retailers are challenged with doing more and being more profitable – growing sales, bringing new products to market, satisfying end customers – all while efficiently procuring and delivering products. If suppliers aim to be the best, the VMI process is a product they will offer to their customer base.

For the full webinar, CLICK HERE. To talk with Tom Hoar, email tom.hoar@truecommerce.com or call 513.791.7272

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