We recently worked with a company that provides plastic disposable containers for sale nationally in Australia using an EDI interface. As with all such goods they predominantly rely on large retail chain stores.
In Australia, the main such stores are Coles, Woolworths and Metcash (IGA).
When dealing with such retail stores, there are quite strict guidelines of how you interact with them. All business documents exchanged between the vendor and customer are conducted via an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Each retailer also has different procedures with their EDI, some want ASN’s prior to dispatch, others want invoices transferred with their own internally generated invoice, so each EDI connection needs to be unique.
Further to this, there are specific pallet quantities, carton quantities, split shipments, shipping direct to distribution centres (DC’s) or direct to stores. All of this also needs to be happen within specific delivery windows, if not the vendor is charged for any errors.
Ensuring that all the above criteria are met in a system is critical. Anyone who has dealt with the mentioned retailers knows how sensitive the relationship is, and how little room for error is allowed before you become a liability to them, and therefore replaceable.
From a systems perspective four systems needed to be accessed, one for each retailer and then the accounting system. In addition to this, the retailer’s system did not speak directly to the accounting system, so it was a manual process that required double entry.
The solution was a two-part process. Finding the solution and then configuring the system to ensure it captured all the above criteria.
After looking at many different solutions we decided to go with Cin7 and Xero, which met all the criteria above. Both are cloud-based systems.
That was the easy part.
I wish it was as simple as opening up a box and plugging it in. The hard work comes after this.
Setting up the system.
By the end of this setup (blood, sweat and quite a few tears) we were on a first name basis with all the EDI teams in Cin7, Coles, Woolworths and IGA.
In essence, despite Cin7 and Xero being two different systems, they are connected together via an API, which allows the two systems to talk like they were one. So no double handling.
Finally, we made new friends and are glad we could/were allowed to assist in creating a system that saved a significant amount of time and costs. Who said you could not do FMCG in the cloud?