Better Business Relationships Through Seamless Order Management
by Dean Gemmell, eZCom Software
For lasting success, get the details right.
You have a product that’s a definite winner. Your brilliant marketing strategy is delivering awareness. And your brand is in demand.
Exciting times, to be sure. But after all the hard work you’ve put into building success, this is the time when you need to focus on making sure you get the details right, too.
When it comes to transactions — whether it’s EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) with an established brick-and-mortar retailer, a purchase from an online marketplace like Amazon, or a sale on your own eCommerce store — both trading partners and consumers expect a seamless, efficient, error-free process. In today’s retail environment, there is little margin for mistakes.
Fact is, not only are missteps costly in the short-term — chargebacks, return costs, delays in payment — they also damage long-term relationships. No matter how hot your product or your brand may be, major retailers have scant patience for suppliers who don’t deliver according to their standards. And consumers are just as tough. If your shipment doesn’t arrive as promised, you risk losing a potential long-term customer.
Have a plan in place. Before you even need it.
The best way to capitalize on success is to plan for it. While you’re busy building your brand, it can be easy to push off the seemingly tedious work of developing supply chain efficiency.
Imagine if you’re like many nascent brands in today’s retail environment. Chances are, you launch primarily through online channels. But as you grow and demand rises, you begin to gain traction with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. And those trading partners will demand the exchange of EDI documents.
EDI is a data exchange format that can seem daunting at first. Handled poorly, it can also quickly become time-consuming and shift your focus away from growing your company. You’ll find yourself paying a stiff price if you don’t get the details right — chargebacks are costly and retailers may be wary of continuing to carry your product if there are hiccups with orders.
For many, the best way to manage EDI is to, well, get someone else to do it. Making it efficient and seamless requires a very specific expertise, and the right EDI provider will have both in-depth knowledge and great cloud-based software. Chances are, you didn’t launch your business because you wanted to become an EDI expert. The good news is that others do know how to make it work for you and your company. If you use an ERP or accounting software, they may be able to integrate EDI into it. If you work with a 3PL, they can make the exchange of data easier.
What’s more, EDI standards are constantly evolving and compliance standards will vary from one retailer to another. An effective EDI provider will track changes and make the necessary updates to ensure that you remain compliant. Again, knowing that you have a partner that has your back will save you all kinds of headaches and keep you from enduring many sleepless nights.
What about all those other channels?
It’s an overused cliché at this point but we’re living in an omnichannel world. Today, it’s the rare product or brand that only sells through one or even a few retailers. Consumers have nearly limitless options for shopping and they make purchases through online marketplaces like Amazon, eCommerce stores on a brand’s web site, and yes, at the many still thriving brick-and-mortar retailers.
Some of these channels will use EDI — many others will not. That’s why you’ll want a partner with both a deep understanding of EDI but also software that is robust and can manage orders no matter where they start. With the right tools, you can keep it all under control and process orders from online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay alongside traditional EDI transactions.
The key is making sure your order management provider is evolving as rapidly as the retail landscape. Are they adding features that automate tasks and speed the exchange of data? Do they help you reduce time-consuming, error-prone manual entry? And do they understand the unique challenges of both online channels and brick-and-mortar retail? As you know well, nothing in business is static. Work with people who understand this as well as you do.
Order management. It’s nearly as important as getting orders
Orders are the lifeblood of your business. When people are buying, you should be thriving.
Remember, however, that while technology has ushered in extraordinary change, the value of old-fashioned business relationships endures. When you have a team in place that helps you meet the demands of today’s need-it-now mentality, you position yourself for long-term success. Finding the right partner for EDI and order management will help you do that.