EDI Transactions Ideally Flow through an Automated Process
The Makers of WhoKnew™ Smart Cookies Talk about their Integration of EDI and ERP for Sales Ordering with Mass Merchandisers, Distributors & Brokers
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the prevailing method of transaction processing for mass merchandisers like Walmart, Costco, Target and Walgreens. Without the integration of EDI transactions into a business system such as ERP, companies are not getting the most out of this form of automation. Taking an integrated approach to EDI order processing reduces human error, accelerates production, and improves fulfillment.
“Receiving EDI orders, or order changes, would ideally flow through an automated process,” says Michael King, Director Customer Engagement, JustFoodERP. “Any orders that are off-order rules should automatically be flagged. Common order rule infringements may include less than full-pallet orders, which may contradict agreed terms and may impact pricing. Manually processing these orders could create an unwarranted delay in order production or order fulfillment.”
In the following Q& A, Jenny Weinard, Customer Service Manager at Suncore Products in Denver, CO — the makers of WhoKnew™ Smart Cookies — talks about her company’s use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integrated within their JustFoodERP system.
How many trade partners do you conduct business with via EDI?
We currently have 31 EDI trading partners including four warehouse distribution locations, four customers that EDI directly to us, and two brokers. Many of our customers have multiple locations which are set up with their own DUNS [data universal numbering system] numbers as well.
What EDI transactions, specifically, are you working with in your JustFoodERP system right now?
We are currently trading the transactions: 944 [Warehouse Stock Transfer Receipt Advice], 945 [Warehouse Shipping Advice], 850 and 875 [Inbound Purchase Orders], 810 and 880 [Invoices] and 997 [Inbound/Outbound Functional Acknowledgement]. We are also working on setting up a 3PL transportation company as a partner in the near future, and are looking forward to using the 943 [Warehouse Stock Transfer Shipment Advice] transfer order.
Are mass merchandisers putting pressure on you to provide Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN) transactions?
Yes, as they become more entrenched in the data sharing world, they are learning more and asking for more. We are providing 856 [ASN] transactions, and UCC 28 labels, for some of our customers. Our third-party warehouses are managing ASN on our behalf.
How do you deal with the more complex EDI mapping requirements that arise?
We work periodically with an EDI mapping consultant. When we bring in new trading partners she validates and helps test the maps for those partners and does the trading partner card set-up. She is also available to help out with advanced troubleshooting issues.
What do you like about EDI functionality within JustFoodERP?
I like the way the JustFoodERP system is set up so that I can see and fix “kick outs” and resend documents when necessary. When our trading partner sends data that our system doesn’t recognize, it can’t be imported. Typically this is a new ship-to that we don’t know about or an incorrect DUNS number. Those won’t even come in our system; when this is the case I go to our EDI file and find the actual document, make the necessary corrections, then receive it.
Do you have any recommendations on EDI best practices for other food companies?
I recommend that every food company that can take advantage of EDI should do so. Even using the basic documents and maps will cut down on manual entry, opportunities for errors and lost documents, etc. Most customers now require bar coding, UPC syncing, etc. When you are on EDI, you have already done most of the work to prepare for sharing attributes through a data bank. EDI streamlines the order process as documents flow through the system and merely have to be checked for the appropriate requirements, versus having to hand-key orders, shipments and invoices.
A former business and trade journalist, Heather Angus-Lee now writes for IndustryBuilt. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .