Manufacturers are doing all they can to stay afloat in the pandemic, with all sectors bearing down on costs to drive greater efficiencies in their operations. The importance of EDI for manufacturing has become heightened as companies seek to frictionlessly manage their relationships with retailers, wholesalers and customers.


So what exactly are the benefits of EDI for manufacturing?

Let’s consider the supply chain behind an eCommerce business. It can involve a wholesale trading relationship, where the manufacturer bulk delivers to the retailer’s warehouse, or, increasingly, dropshipping, where the manufacturer ships direct to the consumer.

In either scenario, successful fulfilment of orders requires great customer service backed by robust and reliable admin and data processing systems.

EDI for manufacturing enables all kinds of business documents, including structured and unstructured data, to be exchanged swiftly and easily. It improves so many processes from inventory management to shipping to audit.

As well as orders and invoices, EDI for manufacturing automates the use of shipping notes, quotes, dispatch and returns instructions, tax summaries, debit and credit notes, remittance advice and many other kinds of documentation and master data.


Frictionless data transfer

These two company case studies, from simplehuman UK and AG Barr, illustrate the benefits of EDI for manufacturing:

simplehuman UK, the designer and manufacturer of smart home products, evolved its use of EDI to optimise data transfer across its complex supply chain and trading partner network.

The company’s IT integration specialist Ian Tofield recommended Transalis’ EDI software to automate order processing.

Given the wide range of processes and IT capabilities among the distributor network, a central requirement in the integration project was enabling connections to any data format using any connectivity method.

Ian worked with Transalis to agree the basic processes for integration with simplehuman UK’s accountancy software so that data could be inputted and extracted smoothly. Transalis then made the technical changes required for the overall infrastructure build and EDI messaging.

“Transalis were brilliant,” says Ian. “They had to make these changes and translate the files very quickly to ensure we didn’t have to wait long to sign up our first developer. That’s exactly what they did.”

Process efficiencies

Once the wholesale model was shown to work, the next step was to automate the dropshipping side and so make efficiencies there too. Again, Transalis was able to accommodate a third-party CRM system that simplehuman UK were using so that dropship orders could be connected automatically.

The new EDI software has fully automated a range of eCommerce data processes, both inbound and outbound and in both wholesale and DSV relationships. They include order acknowledgement, despatch advice, invoicing and inventory. Outbound files can be processed 24/7 any day of the year rather than just within office hours. A robust system of validation is now in place with simplehuman UK better able to manage partner pricing and carton quantities while avoiding any risk of order duplication.

Ian says: “Since the solution was implemented, it has successfully underpinned millions of pounds’ worth of orders from across the distribution network. Everything about our processes has been simplified from a customer relationship point of view. We have had no major connectivity issues. It’s a rock solid and stable solution with an absolutely miniscule error rate, less than 1%.”

Automating the ‘long tail’

EDI for manufacturing has also transformed the data transfer and created frictionless processing for soft drinks manufacturer, AG Barr – synonymous with the iconic and best-selling, Irn-Bru.

AG Barr has delivery channels to regional cash and carry wholesalers selling to the smallest corner shop, as well as servicing the most familiar names in food and beverage retail, including Tesco, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and The Co-op. There are also direct store delivery channels and contracts with regional restaurant groups and grocers.

Managing so many routes to market means that AG Barr’s customer service team has long had to deal with varying levels of EDI capability among partners. They included a ‘long tail’ of smaller independents used to pdfs and email.

Julie Kelly, Business Process Analyst says these were requiring a disproportionate amount of time to manage because of the need for manual input. “We kept asking ourselves if there was a better way to manage these longtail issues, in an easier, more automated way. If we could achieve greater automation, we knew it would free people up for more added-value tasks and create an opportunity for better customer service.”

Like simplehuman UK, the team at AG Barr turned to Transalis for help. Now, everything runs frictionlessly using Transalis cloud-based EDI, with pdfs and other email attachments translated into EDI file formats and accessed through ODBC or ‘open database connectivity’, something AG Barr is used to in its production processes.

All the data processing involved has been automated and streamlined. Analysing the benefits, John Thompson, Integrated Systems Manager and Business Process Lead, says £200,000 was quickly saved from a dramatic drop in the use of credit notes to rectify human errors.

John says: “Being able to put orders automatically into the system is a big timesaver for all aspects of operational correspondence…

…The platform has made life easier for our customer service team. It really has made a positive difference. We are seeing ROI by having people focused on more value-added activity. Customer ratings and feedback also show we have improved customer satisfaction levels.”

At Transalis, we’re all about providing robust EDI solutions that enable 360o real-time insight of stock, orders, invoices and other essential information.

As manufacturers across the world continue to face challenging trading conditions, you too could gain the benefits of EDI for manufacturing just like AG Barr and simplehuman UK.

Find out more about the benefits of EDI? or call 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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