To address the challenges associated with traditional VMI, companies should consider adopting a new approach to managing and replenishing merchandise. Some leading-edge retailers are taking back control over the ordering process. In this new hybrid model, termed Vendor Assisted Inventory Management (VAIM), the supplier continues to leverage data from the retailer to determine and shape demand for products at the store level. However, retailers play an active role in determining what the product ranges and mixes should be on their store shelves instead of leaving those decisions solely to their suppliers.
A leading discount apparel retailer adopted a VAIM approach with all of its suppliers – except for one that was in a VMI agreement with the retailer. After evaluating the results over several seasons the retailer realized that its sales and stock turns were significantly higher for the VAIM products compared to those ordered through the VMI program.
Companies that adopt a VAIM approach benefit from a checks-and-balances approach to collaboration. Although the supplier still has visibility into data that can help streamline supply chain efficiencies, retailers can be assured that valuable shelf space is filled with products that will meet consumer expectations. Doing so will lead to higher sales and diminishing markdowns, creating a win-win scenario for both the retailer and supplier.