Applied Industrial Technologies has re-established its vending program with enhanced commitment and an expanded offering, according to Rob Onorato, vice president of Applied's Maintenance Supplies and Solutions (MSS) business, which focuses on class C items for MRO customers. In the past, Oronato says vending was offered somewhat reactively to customers specifically requiring it. Now, Applied MSS is selling vending more proactively as a fully integrated component of its vendor-managed inventory program.
The impetus for the vending program relaunch, which took place in October, was the realization of consumption control's critical role in cutting customer costs and the recognition of vending as the ideal tool for doing that, Onorato says. Onorato and others at Applied also realized that it made sense to have reps who were already visiting customers to replenish bins, cabinets and other components of Applied's VMI program to replenish vending machines at the same time.
Applied's vending machines have a new look as part of the relaunch, reflecting their compatibility with Applied's other VMI solutions. "We've made a significant investment into SupplyPro machines that are now, as we receive them, private label. They look and feel like part of the Applied Maintenance Supplies and Solutions tool set." To achieve this, Applied ordered the machines in bulk, Onorato says.
The unified branding gives Applied something to offer customers who say they can get closer branches through a competitor. "Our response to that is, let us put a customized branch into your location," Onorato says. Applied MSS selects customized VMI solutions for each customer to effectively take over each one's consumables inventory management in a fully integrated way. "That's why we've gone with this private label approach. When you go into a customer location, you can see that we've taken over the management of that subset of their business," he says.
Onorato says the new approach has been well received by current and new customers. "We take cost out, increase productivity, help control consumption and report everything we do at a national level," Onorato says. "The customers we talk to like that approach, because it's not a bunch of one-off solutions. Any time you can consolidate vendors and do more with fewer players, that's a pretty attractive proposition."
Read how other distributors are approaching vending solutions in the recent MDM Special Report, The Industrial Vending Boom.