missing-the-trainEDI is the standard format for order processing and tracking in the retail industry. While every major retailer has adopted its use there are plenty of smaller and midsized retailers who haven’t yet got onboard. Fortunately for these companies it isn’t too late to start.
All the groundwork has been laid by retailers and EDI service providers, and the path has been trampled over the years so that newcomers will find a smooth road to implementation. Here are three areas that can be leveraged by retailers making the move to electronic order processing.

Ease of startup
Thanks to the advent of cloud computing and robust Internet connections, a retailer can establish a contract with an EDI service provider who will provide all the software, connectivity, and setup. This is very different from the days when the first order of business was to buy a computer and software specifically dedicated to processing EDI transactions. That purchase also meant dedicating time and personnel to learning the details of converting the EDI transactions to match their own ERP system.

Suppliers are already there
If your product lines include items from suppliers who also sell to major retailers it’s likely they are already participating in EDI. Companies like Walmart only do business with suppliers who accept orders via EDI, and most other large retailers do the same. The fact that you don’t need to explain what EDI is and convince your suppliers to implement it is a big advantage. That process, called onboarding, can take time depending on the number of suppliers you work with. A good EDI service provider can take care of the communication with your suppliers and make sure they are compatible with and ready to work with your orders.

Visibility awaits
One issue that every trading partner relationship deals with is the question of where the order is. A fully functional and up to date supply chain process can not only let you know at what stage and location your orders are, it can alert you to delays and other problems that can impact your in-stock positions. A complete set of EDI documents processed in timely fashion can eliminate questions about shipments, quantities, destinations, and pricing. This kind of ‘supply chain visibility’ eliminates panic phone calls and can put products on the shelves at exactly the right times and in the right locations.

There has never been a better time to start an EDI initiative for small and mid sized retailers. Leverage the power available through EDI service providers to gain supply chain domination.
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