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2023.03.10-VMI Case Study Picture

Nationwide Customer Streamlines Operations & Inventory


Sonepar brands across the US are providing vendor-managed inventory and value-added services to one of our largest National Account customers in the US. 

The Challenge 

A National Account Customer of ours conducts business that crosses every Sonepar operating company’s territory. They made triple-digit multi-million-dollar purchases of a broad base of electrical products with Sonepar in 2022, representing 100% growth over their business with us in 2021. 

The customer’s biggest challenge was not having a centralized purchaser buying for their 55+ branches or oversight of their inventory levels across all locations. Not having accurate inventory data caused major inefficiencies. Their field crews would not have the material needed to do their jobs for that day, they would not be able to leverage their spending, and their crews would waste time at suppliers’ counters trying to get what they needed for the day and paying higher prices. 

The Sonepar Solution 

Through National Accounts, Sonepar provides a local contact and an inventory management system with streamlined purchasing and receiving processes. With our vendor-managed inventory (VMI) service, Sonepar uses Innovo stockroom, our inventory software, which allows the customer to set minimum and maximum desired levels of solar and other electrical product inventory and easily place orders with our OpCos weekly. They receive custom reports, allowing them to efficiently use their resources and receive our products immediately upon delivery. Due to the transparency and oversight provided, our reports could potentially help customers identify and stop fraud at their locations, saving thousands of dollars! 

National Accounts also communicates with all OpCos to coordinate competitive pricing for 13,000+ SKUs. This customer gets one price file across the country that is updated every month. By locking in their pricing on most items for 30 days nationwide, we were able to gain more of their business from our competitors. 

Initially, products we shipped to the customer had to be manually counted and input into their ERP. This process was time-consuming and often would not be completed until days after a shipment had been received. That meant that the customer’s own field crew would not know the inventory was at their location and would then obtain material from other sources, incurring additional expenses. To solve this challenge for the customer, Sonepar began creating advanced shipping notices (ASN). Now, when a shipment arrives from a Sonepar OpCo, the customer can scan the ASN once to receive the entire pallet, and all the material is instantly added to their inventory system.  

Sonepar’s digital team worked with National Accounts to automate the information exchange between inventory software used by the customer (Innovo stockroom app) and all of our OpCos’ ERP systems. Customers simply set minimum and maximum inventory levels, and when weekly inventory counts are added to the Innovo app, an order for the appropriate amount of replacement inventory is automatically sent to Eclipse for the OpCos to fill. By automating inventory management in this way, we are able to process 71% of the customers’ order digitally. With the convenience our digital solutions offer, the customer can order quickly, accurately and efficiently. The resulting decreases in errors, incomplete information, and material shortages increased productivity for the field crews.   

Customer Results 

Instead of receiving over 2,600 invoices from Sonepar OpCos per month, we are on track to reduce the number of invoices per month by 60%! With a reduction of that magnitude, an average inefficient customer could save an estimated $30-40K per month in invoice management costs alone! 

This customer of Sonepar is saving money by not needing inventory managers in all 55+ branches. They can also process invoices faster, while reducing their will-call orders at non-preferred suppliers, reducing the need to pay higher prices and waste time obtaining materials. 

As a National Accounts customer with Sonepar, they benefit from… 

  • One point of contact for 16 OpCos 

  • 60% reduction in the number of invoices 

  • Competitive pricing across the country  

  • Customized solutions specific to the customer’s needs   

  • Constant communication and business reviews, thanks to state-of-the-art reports from our KASY software that streamline the customer experience 

As the world’s largest B2B distributor, Sonepar collaborated with the customer to provide consistent services and products across the country. A single point of contact was critical for the customer as a national company. This led to a more efficient electronic processes, saving them time and money by reducing their will-call orders at a non-preferred supplier. 

To learn what our National Accounts team can do for you, fill out the "contact us" form on our National Accounts page!