EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) has been an established technology for data exchange since the 1980s. It has enabled many organizations to start automating the procurement and accounts payable processes, and to speed up transactions and reduced costs. However, EDI has not been adopted as widely as expected especially among SMBs (small- and mid-size businesses). It works well for large organizations in retail and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) that have high-volume transactions and IT staff to develop and support it. Some have referred to EDI as a monster of technical complexity, and what SMBs need is a simpler solution to support the growing need among retailers for electronic transactions.
The EDI problem for SMBs
SMBs struggle with EDI for several reasons:
- high cost of integration
- complexity of operation
- finding IT resources to handle it
- length of time to implement
The standard flow of EDI transactions have been through supplier networks or VANs (value-added networks) which take a percentage of the revenue of the transaction. But because of their traditional architecture they are slow and costly to change, and usually require part of their software to run on-premise. This makes the industry ripe for disruption. Businesses can now take advantage of more flexible cloud-based solutions, which cost at least 50% less than VANs, and provide a more predictable cost of service.
The new EDI
New technology allows us to change the acronym of EDI to ‘Eclectic Data Ingestion’, meaning the ability to process any format of data without customized coding.
For SMBs it means they now have a solution that is:
- within their budget to set up and maintain
- quick to set up
- not heavy on IT resources
For businesses that supply the retail industry this new version of EDI is important as omni-channel, or multi-channel, retail grows. Whether you supply a major retailer or an online e-commerce provider, their concern is knowing when they can get stock as soon as possible and an up-to-date price.
Simplyfing EDI for retail suppliers
At Flowgear we’ve able to help our customers with their challenges of accepting orders from retailers as well as supplying financial and inventory data back to them:
- Receiving orders from retailers
- Sending invoices
- Receiving claims transactions
- Sending inventory levels and SKU data
- Sending statements
Using Flowgear’s cloud-based integration platform, our customers make use of an automated integration flow that receives orders from retailers as well as sends invoice, stock, pricing and other relevant data for online retailers in XML format. Not only are they providing better service to demanding customer, but they are doing it more quickly, with greater accuracy, and freeing staff from doing mundane administrative work to more important activities. This is done using standard platform functionality with minimal customization.
For the southern African market we already have pre-built connectors for the major retailers. Have look and let us know what integrations you require.