Retail is a contest that gives the nod to the biggest and brightest stars, such as Amazon, Walmart, and other “big-box” retailers, and predictably, the big guys have always run the show. Since EDI started becoming popular, it was always something that the big guys mandated of the little guys. If the little guys wanted a place at the retail table, they had to do whatever was requested of them.
In the past, the small- to mid-sized businesses in the retail world only added trading partners to their EDI systems, and that only happened when the large retailers required them to do so. Everyone at MAPADOC, and indeed everyone who has worked in the EDI world has received many emails and phone calls in which a customer nervously reports: “Costco [or other retailer] just sent me these specs, so we need to get set up on EDI with them right away.”
But that was the past.
Small- to medium-sized retail suppliers are no longer sitting on their hands, waiting and fearing the requirements of their retail partners. Not only are the SMBs of today well-versed in EDI processes and advantages, they are making plans to strategically extend those benefits across the supply chain.
HERE ARE FOUR NEW EDI BUSINESS TRENDS I HAVE NOTICED LATELY:
1. Leveraging of analytics: Suppliers are getting smarter and taking ownership of their sales relationships. They leverage EDI information to advise the retailers about where the product is selling, how much product they need, and when it would be best to replenish.
2. EDI with both buyers and suppliers: Because the big retailers send out purchase orders to their suppliers, many smaller suppliers (who have suppliers of their own) figure that they should automate that process to save time—just like the big-box buyers of their products.
3. EDI with third-party logistics/warehouse: When choosing a third-party to house and send out goods, businesses are now looking to companies that are proficient in EDI. Business owners want warehouses that are flexible enough to meet the demands of their customers and that also improve internal processes.
4. Suppliers making requests: As a measure of customer service and of the extension of automation, suppliers are now approaching retailers to request that they test EDI for themselves. Their requests are reasonable, because with an automated system, companies are quick to realize that the addition of an extra partner doesn’t have to create extra work. These and other industry trends demonstrate the increasing popularity of automation and computer-based supply-chain management. In today’s “ever-speedier” world, it has become increasingly important to save on personal effort while still activating business efficiency. Successful big-box retailers have always understood the need for business-enhancing technology such as EDI systems, and as the smaller companies grow bigger, they are now also realizing the many benefits that EDI brings. EDI has become the new competition differentiator, and those who use it are raising the bar in the supply world.
Photo courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/FreeDigitialPhotos.net