EDI promises to help food and beverage retailers weather the perfect storm of Covid-19 and Brexit

Effective food and beverage supply chain management can be challenging at the best of times. This year, however, the challenges are exceptional thanks to the combination of peak Christmas trading, a second wave of Covid-19 and Brexit uncertainty. These factors threaten to serve up the perfect storm, but food & beverage retailers equipped with Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), however, are set to weather the crisis better than most.

For an example of how things could go wrong pre-Covid, just take a look at Marks & Spencer’s performance in the run-up to Christmas 2019. The high-street stalwart blamed supply-side factors after it over-ordered too much festive fare in the fortnight before Christmas.

This caused a stock surplus, which it found difficult to shift and the resulting discounted food mountain hit profit margins hard. At the same time, M&S blamed an “overly complex” supply chain for keeping food too long in the delivery system, rather than on the shelves.

EDI helps optimise food & beverage stock levels

Taking cost and complexity out of the supply chain will have many benefits for food & beverage retailers heading into peak trading 2020. Done properly, it means you can avoid excess stock and markdown while shortening clearance periods and maintaining product availability.

The efficient management of trading documentation has a key role to play in this. Cloud-based EDI is the preferred solution for ensuring different supply chain systems can speak to each other.

EDI solutions smooth the flow of essential information associated with orders, invoices, advanced shipping notices and other trading documentation. Over the years, EDI has introduced time and cost savings for food and beverage retailers, not to mention improved accuracy and eliminating the need for most paper documents.
Streamline back-office processes with cloud-based EDI software.

Find out more: What is EDI?

So, where’s the catch? Why aren’t more food & beverage retailers optimising their back-office processes with electronic data interchange? The answer lies in IT development generally, namely the relentless march of technical innovation coupled with user expectations.

If you are a food and beverage retailer dealing with multiple trading partners, you are likely to diverge in your EDI ‘world view’. This is especially true if you are processing thousands of customer orders.

This is because different users typically deploy a range of data formats, source files, interface files, management tools and processes. There will be different trigger points for extracting data, different ways of encoding and using data, and a spread of expectations on the outputs.

The best way to resolve all this is a managed solution that meets all the formatting and translation requirements of your food & beverage supply chain. Built-in EDI integration means all your business documents, including structured and unstructured data, can be exchanged without you having to learn the technical ins and outs.

EDI – robust, agile, scalable and high-performance

A cloud-based EDI solution such as Transalis eDI™, created and developed over many years by supply chain experts, achieves this. In a nutshell, it automatically maps the required data output from the source file into the relevant EDI format for you. As soon as it is up and running, you and your partner or partners can be trading electronically within minutes, secure in the knowledge that you are supported by a robust, agile, scalable and high-performance platform.

In a sense, the multiple pressures being felt in the retail sector right now constitute the perfect storm for which cloud-based EDI was designed. Thanks to process digitisation and automation, EDI paper-to-digital solutions take fluctuating workflows and orders in their stride. New trading partners can be onboarded in a fraction of the time taken using paper processes.

This means food and beverage retailers and wholesalers can enjoy new levels of supply chain agility as they swiftly chop and change trading partners to ensure continuity of supply. Order delivery and the all-important order-to-invoice cycle are also accelerated thanks to the fact that cloud-based EDI completes transactions faster and more accurately than ever before.

Find out more: The benefits of EDI

Cloud-based EDI solutions are now within reach of SMEs

Recent advances in technology mean cloud-based EDI solutions are no longer reserved for the bigger brands. They are now within easy reach of tier two and three suppliers.

With Covid-19 accelerating the trend to online home delivery, and with the uncertainties of Brexit on the way, relying on antiquated systems means food and beverage retailers risk missing out on competitive advantage at a time when opportunities may be few and far between.

Resetting the way trading relationships work will not be easy. But when it comes to cost-efficient document processing, EDI looks set to continue its role as the go-to solution for supply chain management.

You can reach us on 0845 123 3476 or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), or email sales@transalis.com.

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