Why EDI flexibility is the answer to uncertainty in the age of Brexit and Covid-19

We live in uncertain times when it pays to expect the unexpected. Whether it’s a new variant of Covid-19 or widespread trade uncertainty triggered by Brexit, the unexpected has become part of everyday life.

And in the face of this uncertainty change is happening at break-neck speed. For example, it took eCommerce 23 years to go from a standing start to 7% participation in the UK grocery market. Last year, however, it took just 23 weeks to more than double to a 15% share of the market.

In times like these supply chain agility, especially for food and beverage (F&B) SMEs, proves to be worth its weight in gold.

Protect your SME supply chains with EDI

The good news is that SMEs can take rapid and effective action to protect their supply chains during these turbulent times by integrating electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions into their systems.

Cloud-based EDI enables companies to closely monitor their supply chains in real-time and make adjustments the moment they spot issues. Without EDI solutions, however, there is a risk they can be caught out – for example, stuck with underperforming suppliers and unable to satisfy demand or saddled with late-paying customers.

A cloud-based EDI solution such as Transalis eDI™, created and developed over many years by experts in supply chain analysis, achieves the agility needed in today’s trading environment.

EDI – faster, cheaper and more accurate

Rather than piecing together information from a wide range of sources, EDI does the whole job automatically. EDI solutions enable your computer systems to talk directly to your trading partners’ computer systems. They automatically swap and process vital paperwork (such as orders, invoices and shipping notes) digitally. They do the whole process faster, cheaper and more accurately than any human could ever hope to achieve.

The result is a rich flow of highly accurate, real-time data, which gives you a golden opportunity to take greater control of your supply and distribution networks.

Thanks to these high levels of 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 when using disjointed processes.

On-board new suppliers faster with EDI

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.

This rich EDI-powered data is a treasure trove of actionable insights for growth-hungry SMEs. For example, it can reveal previously invisible trends in customer buying habits, such as product demand spikes, much earlier in the cycle. When you can spot a new trend in real time you can gear-up your supply chain and analyse your progress in real-time. It’s this kind of agility and responsiveness that can give an SME a head-and-shoulders lead over your competitors.

Launch your own D2C channel with EDI

Cloud-based EDI software can also act as a real-time early-warning system when your supply chain is put under stress. For instance, you can immediately spot bottlenecks caused by suppliers who start to miss delivery deadlines or fail to deliver the agreed number of SKUs. The system can flag up instances in which clients fail to pay on time or routinely return orders.

EDI also delivers the accuracy and agility needed for brands and manufacturers to launch their own eCommerce direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales channel. At a time when extended value chains and complex trading partnership networks add risk, D2C has been seized upon by a wide range of brands and manufacturers – from F&B to health and beauty and apparel to technology.

D2C eCommerce channels can cut costs. By selling online and cutting out resellers and intermediaries, brands can streamline their distribution processes, reduce both risk and costs and significantly increase their profit margins.

Orchestrate D2C orders at scale with EDI

Cutting out the middle men, however, means that brands are solely responsible for all the retail heavy lifting. This is an area where electronic data interchange (EDI) has shown its value as part of a successful D2C strategy.

One of the most difficult eCommerce tasks is orchestrating orders at scale and ensuring the right product is in stock and can be sent to the right customer at the right address in the most cost-effective way possible. This is particularly difficult if brands are processing high volumes of low-value products.

When a brand’s enterprise resource planning system (ERP) is connected to a cloud-based EDI solution, however, key information (customer names, addresses, products and quantity) can be automatically shared without the risk of human input error.

EDI remains the go-to solution for supply chain agility

Market-leading EDI solutions also include automatic address verification, ensuring that orders are sent to the right address first time, every time. Brands and manufacturers of all sizes know the importance of getting the basics right at scale if they are to protect customer lifetime value.

Doing business in a time of great uncertainty is never easy, that’s why EDI remains the go-to solution for companies wishing to introduce greater supply chain agility in their trading network.

If you feel you would benefit from cloud-based EDI from Transalis, why not talk to us? You can reach us on 0845 123 3476 or +44 1978 369 343 if calling from outside the UK, or email sales@transalis.com.

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