The VMI Helper

VMI or Vendor Managed Inventory has become the supply channel of choice for many large retailers. As a supplier however, it presents a challenge of getting feedback on the state of your items at diverse locations.

 homedepot walmart lowes kroger

Whether you manage this yourselves or, you have a third party doing so, this is  a cost effective, easy to use application to give you visibility to what is happening to your inventory.
The objective is to provide you with up to the minute reports and photographs of:

  • Tasks completed such as display; merchandising; watering; and care
  • Disposals
  • Counts
  • Overstock situations and opportunities to Push additional quantities.

In brief, there are two sides to this process. From the “office” you send two to a secure “cloud”.  These include a list of items that you sell and locations where you sell them.  In the store, you use a smart phone or tablet and a concise, easy to learn applet to identify where you are and what you’re doing. Reporting is done back on the “office side” where you can view and report on the transaction logs of activities at the retail locations.



The 3 steps

The Office Side … Setup



The Office Side of the application is divided into two parts, VMI table maintenance and Transaction Logs.
Setup involves the VMI Tables consisting of six simple tables to create and maintain your data. The most frequently used table: products, is at the top of the list.
The Products Window is to create or modify a list of the items that you will be maintaining in the retail locations.  Each entry or row includes, a Vendor ID, a Product Item or Sku ID, two descriptions that can be used for botanical and common names or one description and one sort criteria. 





You may enter data into the table manually, or, you may import from a text file.  If you have an in-house grower or accounting system, you can likely export the data you need to reduce the time needed to create these files.  Alternatively, you may build the data in an excel worksheet and import the result.
Printing is available to a hard copy report or, if you have Microsoft Exceltm on your system, directly into a new Excel Workbook.
The Locations Window is to create or maintain a list of the retail locations that will be selling your products



Again, you may enter data into the table manually, or, you may import from a text file.  The above list of Home Depot locations in Florida was simply downloaded from the internet and imported into the software.

  • The Retailers Window is to create or maintain a list of the retail companies whose stores carry your products.
  • The Disposals Window is to create or maintain a list of the reasons for disposing inventory quantities from the retail locations.  This might include: failed to grow; failed to water; poor quality; broken and whatever other categories or reasons you would like to track for disposing (throwing out) inventory.
  • The Tasks Window is to create or maintain a list of the tasks that would generally be done on site to maintain your products in top its best saleable condition. These might include: watering; rearranging display; re-signing; and replacing labels.
  • The Vendors Window is to create or maintain vendors or the suppliers of inventory that you will be maintaining in the retail locations. Obviously, if it’s your own company, you will need only one entry in this table.



Once your data files are setup, you’re ready to go onsite to the retail locations and start using your smart-phone or tablet.



The OnSite Side … Recording Activities.

The first step is a secure logon to your data files.


Next, you select the location that you are working in.


Next, scan the barcode of the item.

Once you’ve scanned a barcode, the item will be identified and you will be presented with a selection of options.



Choosing the Task button presents the following screen:

The arrow beside the task box opens a list of available tasks – the ones you created in the Office Side Setup.



The completed task window might look like…


At this point, you may add take a photograph using the device’s built in camera to provide visual feedback on the results of your task.



Choosing the Disposal button presents the following screen where you can detail how many of the item you have thrown out, why, any notes and add a photograph so the folks back in the office can “see” what is happening.


As with Tasks, the arrow beside the Disposal Reason field will open a list of table entries that had been created at the office.  If none apply, simply type into the field provided. Add a quantity and some description notes as required.
Again, add a photograph to enhance your reporting


The resulting screen would appear as shown below.  Click on the [Update] button to save your work.



This screen allows you to record current inventory counts if required.



This screen allows you to record your opinion as to whether the current count represents an opportunity to Push more quantity or, if it is Overstocked.


The Office Side … Transaction Logs and Reporting

 The Transaction Logs allow you to view and report on activities recorded onsite at the retail locations.  


 The Transaction Log window for disposals is shown below



The image may be rotated using the circular arrow to the right of the image.

The image may be saved to the local computer, to a location chosen by the user, by clicking the disk and arrow icon at the bottom right of the image.

Two additional screen captures of disposal transactions:



The Transaction Log window for Counts is shown below


Click on the column headers to sort the data.
Click on an individual row to have the details displayed.
Click on the print button to print to paper or export the data to Exceltm