what is the blockchain and why is it so importantEDI documents and the supply chain data ecosystem seems to be pretty secure. By secure I mean that it’s rare to hear of any cyber breaches affecting commerce. Most often cyber attacks are identified in POS systems and other environments where consumer information is stolen and sold. But just because it isn’t a hot news topic doesn’t mean it can’t or doesn’t happen. And because the documents that run the order processing systems across the globe were created long before cyber warfare was a real threat, new ways of protecting them are being introduced.

chatbotsYou’ve likely encountered chatbots even if they didn’t introduce themselves as such. Today you’re most likely to encounter them when you call a customer support hotline or online chat service. They ask questions and deliver answers and act surprisingly like human operators… except they’re much more quickly available.

smart logisticsGlobally, there is a demand for smarter, cost effective and sustainable operations to suit the needs of consumers who expect higher customer service levels. Business can not go on as usual. There have been major disruptions in the logistics tech market, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to make a dramatic impact in the industry.

It’s been a while since Walmart first insisted that its suppliers moved to its digital order process. Back then the prospect of using EDI rather than fax or phone to place orders seemed like a technological hurdle. And in fact it was a significant hurdle that plenty of suppliers bucked against. But today Walmart’s tactics have become accepted and electronic order processing is no longer the pariah it once was. Now the retailer is making another mandate to its suppliers. But this time it’s not about what but where.

The consumer world seems overwhelmingly digital. From smartphones and smartwatches to IoT devices like thermostats and Amazon Alexa we’re constantly and instantly connected. But what about the supply chain? Is every order initiated by an automated function and passed along at light speed to the manufacturer who instructs their robots to build the order and put it on a pallet?

thumb purchase-order-basicsThe benefits of automating orders, invoices, and ASNs between your company and its customers are well known. Integrated documents are faster, less prone to error, and improve workflow among your people and systems. At this point, it would be rare to find a major retailer or manufacturer who isn’t using electronic documents to run their businesses. Not so rare, though, are small and medium sized businesses (SMB) still pushing paper. It’s about time for SMBs to make their move, isn’t it?

SupplyChainTechnologyNewsEc-bp.com has been acquired by PMG360 who will continue to publish supply chain focused content and relaunch the site and newsletter as Supply Chain Technology News. Scott Koegler will continue to guide the editorial direction as the site’s executive editor.

Supply Chain Technology News has been published as ec-bp since 2003 as the advocate for lowering the barriers to the adoption of EDI. The editorial focus has expanded beyond EDI to encompass the full gamut of supply chain practices and technologies and to provide supply chain professionals information about forces guiding the industry with editorials, technology news and trends.

holiday shippingIt's hard to believe that the Holiday season is near - or that for those participating in retail, the season is already well underway. Is it too late to think about making this season better? If you haven't already made the infrastructure and system changes you've been contemplating this year then the answer is likely to be Yes! But there may still be a few things you can do at this late date.

integration-gearLet’s have some fun with math. What EDI translator does your company use? For that matter, what ERP, 3PL, or other service is on your short list? Next, how many trading partners do you have? And finally, what EDI, ERP, and other electronic systems do they use? It doesn’t really matter whether you have the answers to these questions. What you would get even if you use the smallest estimates available is a very large number of permutations. How is it possible then to maintain compatibility and also keep up with the accelerated pace of today’s supply chain?

Mass-CustomizationWhen is a commodity not a commodity? When each individual item is made to order. Not just made for the P.O. but to the specifics of the customer's requests. With traditional supply chain practices it's easy enough to get the order right for the specified number of items in the package. But when that package count is 1, there is literally no margin for error.