Streamlining your distribution and retail processes by leveraging ERP and EDI (electronic data interchange) software automation will empower you to consolidate disparate trading requirements and communication channels into centralized workflows. Integrating these applications and taking advantage of a full-service solution will help you eliminate the pain points that come with in-house “do it yourself” documentation exchange procedures, and alleviate the complexities of translating, mapping and generally managing multiple documents across various retailers.
With the rise of ecommerce, electronic and digital document exchange is also growing in importance as inaccurate or lost data leads to a lack of information on the product side, impacting how customers are able to perceive that item. Maintaining a healthy omnichannel or completely digital storefront is mission-critical for businesses having to adapt to serious disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing natural disasters like wildfires and more. Optimizing your trading processes to ensure compliance with the broadest range of requirements will remove chargebacks and mitigate the time it takes to complete each order, maximizing your ROI on inventory.
Here are several tips for how to streamline your retail trading operations with ERP and EDI automation:
What is EDI? Where Does It Fit in with ERP & Retail?
Electronic data interchange is an all-encompassing term covering most, if not all, of the methods and formats for mapping, translating and electronically exchanging the documentation needed to complete business transactions. With many of the historically paper- and fax-based documents moving over to an electronic format increasingly from the 1970’s onward, EDI has existed conceptually for decades but has grown in importance with the rise of application integration and automation. It is on this latter where connectivity and seamless data transfer with an ERP comes into play, as enterprise resource planning modules often play an integral role in consolidating inventory and warehouse management data in a retail fulfillment technology stack.
Electronic Documentation is a Complex Part of Distribution
Most distribution chains with retailers of various sizes will require electronic data interchange at some point, and this is one of the most complicating factors – nearly everyone has their own specific requirements that shift depending on their own software and processes. Navigating this intertwined web of compliance can be a challenge for businesses that only have so many resources to devote to managing the different formats, increasing the chance of noncompliance, chargebacks and delays. The good news is that a full-service EDI solution will take much of that complexity off of your hands, and with the right implementation and support partner your ERP and retail/ecommerce software connectors will exchange data seamlessly.
Leveraging EDI in the Cloud
Part of the digital transformations of both distribution and retail has involved extensive migration to the cloud for application hosting, which grants improvements in flexibility and speed over traditional on-premise systems, as well as cutting out hardware costs. Cloud-based EDI platforms have allowed more consistent connectivity between partners, greater scalability and easier software integration. A full-service solution can also achieve more seamless managed support since your provider can address issues and manage touchpoints in real-time.
ERP, Warehouse & Ecommerce Retail Integrations
Digitization is helping to transform technology stacks from disconnected silos of separate applications and a background IT infrastructure to a unified platform that connects these disparate pieces, although many businesses still rely on manual entry from system to system. To maximize your ROI on your fulfillment lifecycles, your software should be integrated seamlessly to be able to exchange data uninterrupted both internally and to your trading partners. Engaging the right service for EDI and ERP integration will ensure that your financials, inventory and warehouse information is connected securely, and populating the right data on the retail side.
Scalability for Various Trading Partner Requirements
The wide range of documentation and translation requirements between the dozens to thousands of potential trading partners your business must communicate with presents a lot of potential variations to sift through, and any one change creates a new process to pivot to. Constantly adjusting to the different procedures will siphon bandwidth from your team, and probably revenue too as costs or chargebacks mount. Full-service EDI with databases hosted in the cloud provides greater scalability and can adapt much more quickly to sudden shifts, and your provider will work to consolidate the various formats and channels to a centralized standard on the user side.
Unifying Sales & Partner Communication Channels
Having so many trading partners does not just introduce many different documentation types and processes, it also gives your business many more points of contact to communicate with. This can potentially muddle your sales channels as well, especially if you sell to customers across multiple spaces like ecommerce and wholesale, and your fulfillment lifecycles could stall and lose value. A modern EDI service integrated with your ERP data will provide consistent visibility into order workflows, and empower you to automate document exchange based on pre-built format templates.
Full-service EDI Solutions VS Do It Yourself In-house
Managing all of the complexities of electronic data interchange within your business is possible for some, but potentially financially draining even if you do already have the internal resources required to map out, translate, send and record all of the various documentation. A full-service EDI solution, as has been mentioned throughout this article, allows you to leverage both modern cloud-hosted technology and real-time human support delivered by professionals connected to an extensive trading network. This ‘best of both worlds’ approach plugs the gaps left by legacy software and “do it yourself” methods, and adapts according to your needs without requiring a huge pivot of operations.
EDI Built for Sage 100 and Acumatica
To maximize your ROI on integration, you must choose an EDI that connects seamlessly with your ERP, and an implementation and support partner knows their way around both. It is important to engage with a firm that is familiar with enterprise systems like Sage 100, Acumatica, etc., and is experienced with customizing the backend to integrate with third-party applications like your electronic data interchange system.
Discover Next Level Retail Automation for Sage & Acumatica
Discover how SPS Commerce, a market-leading cloud-based EDI solution, will help you take your Sage and Acumatica ERP to the next level of retail automation with their full-service capabilities and modern technology platform. Sign up for SWK’s joint webinar with SPS Commerce to learn how our services will help you streamline your trading partner processes, ensure EDI compliance and maximize your ROI on fulfillment.
Click here to watch our webinar and see how SPS Commerce will help Sage 100 and Acumatica users optimize their retail operations.