Invenshare.com founder Josh Willits says that in a perfect world a custom integrator runs his business with a 100-percent just-in-time inventory system, ordering only what customers have purchased and only when he needs it. Reality, however, tells a different story.
“Through project change orders, swap-outs and exchanges, repairs, manufacturer purchase incentives, and other unforeseen circumstances, you’ve ended up with unwanted inventory sitting on shelves doing nothing but collecting dust and tying up your cash,” Willits noted of the more typical scenario for custom integrators.
So he created Invenshare.com to provide a members-only online marketplace that connects dealers’ excess and unwanted inventory in the cloud. When a custom integrator needs a specific product, he can search by manufacturer or model number for what he wants. When he finds what he needs, he can purchase it, make an offer, or even offer to trade for the product he needs. Membership costs $30/month, paid monthly or annually (with a one-month discount).
Willits, a custom integrator in Harrisburg, PA, came up with the idea for Invenshare.com a few years ago during a dinner at Savant training. One of the other integrators at his table was complaining about not being able to unload another manufacturer’s demo touchpanel that he’d purchased for more than $5,000 a few years earlier. He was convinced that a dealer somewhere could use it, and was willing to sell it for less than $2,000. Another integrator at the table said he'd buy it.
Over the years, Willits recalled, there were times when a product from one of his vendor partners was on backorder, and he figured that another dealer somewhere had inventory of that same product sitting on a shelf.
“In fact, just recently we got an email from a rep looking for another dealer in his territory who might have a spare battery to an old (out of production) touchpanel,” he said.
The idea for an inventory sell/trade website sat dormant for a year or two before Willits decided to fund the project himself. One of the dealers from that Savant dinner where the idea was hatched is now a beta tester for the site and has, along with several other dealers, helped shape it.
Using Invenshare.com has been designed to be incredibly easy for its users. Once he signs up, the member is granted access and can enter inventory that he’d like to make available to other members. Whenever he has a need for product, he can check his physical inventory first and then his digital Invenshare.com inventory. Then he can buy it for the dealer's asking price, offer cash (which they can accept or counter), or request a trade.
At any one point in time, any product in the system could have X-number of cash offers and Y-number of trade offers that are pending review or approval. The site passes that information through to its inventory page so members can see the products that are currently in negotiation. The process is first come, first served. If you need the product right away, you can swoop in and purchase it at the listed price, which closes the deal immediately and gets you your product.
There are no per-transaction fees, just the monthly fee for membership. The receiving dealer pays shipping. “This is the best way to motivate dealers to move products; the dealer who wants the product is motivated to have it ship to him as quickly as possible,” Willits said.
Once the transaction is approved and paid for, the receiving dealer generates a shipping label to be sent to the seller/shipper. Then the receiving dealer can decide to expedite it, insure it, etc.
“We encourage all of our members to honor their dealer agreements and contracts with suppliers and manufacturers,” Willits noted. “We exist as a service for dealers to buy and sell gear freely. Much of the gear is at or below cost because dealers want to free up the cash instead of having product sit on their shelves.”
Willits said that Invenshare.com currently does not "police" MSRP. “This is a B2B marketplace; our members know what the MSRP is for this stuff, and they know most of the cost, as well. To appease manufacturers concerned about this, the site enables dealers to mark a product "exclusive" so that it is only seen, and can be purchased by, other dealers authorized for that manufacturer. When a dealer signs up, they include a list of manufacturers for which they are authorized resellers. Invenshare.com then cross references against its list of authorized dealers before granting them membership.
During its soft launch, Invenshare.com is offering a 60-day free trial for those who sign up before April 1.