Apr 21, 2023

What is a Customer Consignment?

At National Wholesale Supply it is our top priority to make it as easy as possible for our clients to acquire the material they need. We understand the challenge of tracking down material can be stressful and time consuming (especially when it is needed to complete an urgent repair!). We believe the process contractors and service technicians go through to acquire their material should be simplified…and one of the best ways this can be achieved is through Customer Consigned Material.

In its purest form, a Consignment is a small-scale, fully functional branch located within a client’s business and it is designed to simplify their material acquisition process. NWS will utilize a designated space within the client’s facility, such as a fenced enclosure or even a extra-large closet, where specific items are stocked and inventory levels are set to accommodate the needs of their business. The client does not own the material until it is purchased, but NWS has it there for them and covers the cost of holding the consigned inventory knowing this makes it easy for our customers to take care of their customers.  Consignments can either be “Manned” or “Unmanned”…determining which type is best depends on the operational volume and our customer’s needs.

An “Unmanned” Consignment is the most common for small-scale businesses, or even businesses that are simply limited in space. The client has 24/7 access to the material and can grab whatever they need when they need it. Purchasing material can be as easy as sending us a list of the items taken, or RFID scanning each item’s barcode. The RFID method eliminates the need for an email and seamlessly creates an invoice within our system. Depleted inventory levels are replenished by NWS delivery trucks as needed and cycle counted monthly to ensure levels are accurate.

A “Manned” Consignment is common in a large-scale, high-volume business such as a service company with numerous technicians, or a contractor that specializes in new home subdivisions. Consignments this large may require several on-site NWS employees, especially if they service multiple trades such as Plumbing, HVAC, and Electrical. The customer sends over the PO’s to our team and we create the order and provide the material!

Some “Manned” Consignment Examples:

  • The HVAC sector for one of our largest service clients has roughly 25 installation trucks and 40 service technician trucks. Each installation truck is responsible for one or more installs per day, all of which typically require the same material. Material is ordered in kits, which include specific items and quantities necessary to complete that certain type of install. Each kit is placed in its own rolling bin and staged in front of the installer’s loading door. This allows installers to have everything they need ready for their day by the moment they arrive for work!
  • Since service technicians spend most of their time in the field, there is little time to spend replenishing the wide range of inventory needed on their truck. To save time, technicians can order material through their tablet and have it placed in their bin, or locker and pick up at their convenience.

One of our largest customers described their consignment as “an in-house supply house that is specific to our needs and stocks everything we keep on our trucks. This saves us a tremendous amount of time by not having to search for our material.” It is our responsibility to ensure the consignment is operating at a level that exceeds our customer’s expectations.

Our NWS Consignment Employees are responsible for the following:

  • Structure the consignment in a way that flows with the client’s business operation.
  • Communicate clearly, quickly, and professionally.
  • Provide material in a timely manner, whether it’s pulled from the consignment’s inventory or sourced.
  • Coordinate will-call pickups and deliveries.
  • Maintain inventory levels and bring in new stock items as needed.
  • Perform in a professional, ethical, and selfless manner that properly represents National Wholesale Supply.
  • Eliminate the word “No” from their vocabulary.

We do not view our consignments as just another branch, but rather a Service we can provide to our clients that will create opportunities for them to maximize profits and grow their business. NWS is now at thirteen consignments and growing…we continuously strive to provide our current and prospective clients with innovative and efficient services to propel their business to new heights!

By: Dillon Hunt, Jason Warren, and Blake Carr