By now, it’s likely that some of your larger retail customers have mandated that you communicate via EDI. You have no choice but to stop communicating via antiquated methods. Email and spreadsheets have to go.
On the bright side, EDI offers significant benefits for fashion wholesalers. It saves a lot of data entry man-hours, which translates to lower labor costs. It also eliminates redundant data entry, which eliminates mistakes. One translation of a PO or of an invoice will always contain fewer mistakes than two or more translations. A single mistake while manually entering a retailer’s PO quantities into your wholesale system can equal costly chargebacks.
For years, many retailers have been emailing us purchase orders in PDF or Excel spreadsheets. When we get these documents, they don’t just electronically flow into our system. Instead, we have to retype all of this same information into our system by hand. As a result, mistakes are inevitably made that can have real costs. Of course it goes the same way for our retail customers when we invoice them. They have to reenter all of the same data all over again, and their manual mistakes have financial consequences just the same. EDI can cut the data entry time between us by half and potentially reduce data exchange mistakes to zero.
Complying with EDI exchange typically means setting up accessibility of UPCs in the ‘electronic catalog’ of the retailer’s choosing. The brand manufacturer will then need to be able to receive and translate the EDI formatted purchase orders from the retailer, and in turn send the EDI invoice and ship notice back. Although the data layout of these transactions is said to be standard, it is common knowledge in the apparel industry that EDI transaction definitions can differ in varying degrees among retailers. These transaction definitions are essentially called mapping guidelines, and as such, maps have to be built to accommodate each retailer. Data mappings are built within a ‘translator’, typically.
One option to achieving this is to use 3rd party EDI providers that can help achieve the technical (translator) set up and ongoing exchange. Another option is in-house EDI setup and exchange that requires the purchase and integration of an EDI translator software application with your ERP system.
Both of these options effectively build bridges between the EDI data and your Order/Invoice/Shipment applications. Either approach could be an expensive and time consuming undertaking. However, a simpler option is using an ERP system such as Simparel with built-in and natively integrated EDI translators. This “all inclusive” architecture eliminates the need for any additional software platforms and subsequent EDI integration bridges. In addition, having the expanded visibility/access to data offers ease of audit, troubleshooting, support and manageability.
These important benefits are driving many companies to examine their legacy technology or and consider replacing it altogether. While the perfect EDI solution can help, linking it with old technology could create bottlenecks or become a source of costly problems and information errors.
To develop your best strategy for your EDI launch and ROI, you will want to consider many things from an ROI standpoint. How many retailers will your current system exchange EDI documents with? On average, how many orders will your current system receive per month? What percentage of my overall incoming orders will be EDI generated? What are your projections in doing business with big box and large e-com businesses?
You will also want to consider whether or not your existing ERP supports many of the requirements involved with EDI compliance. What are your carton content details? How are you currently doing UCC label assignment and generation? How do you currently do VICS Bill of Lading Assignments and Customer SKU assignments?
There may be additional costs in fitting your current ERP to these standards or even fitting your distribution model to the same. If you have no on-site development support, you will need to consider bringing someone on board in order to ensure you can connect with and put/get data to and from your network going forward. In addition, you will likely have to bring on either an EDI consultant or resident employee to develop, deploy, and maintain your EDI maps.
With a natively integrated ERP system like Simparel, the majority of your overall implementation is already in place. This includes compliance with over 150 retailers and all the resources needed to launch your EDI solution in the quickest and most accurate means available.
*This is a featured advertorial from Simparel, and does not act as an endorsement from WhichERP.