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Replace Email, Telephone and Fax Ordering with Excel

It can be cumbersome if you have low-tech customers that send orders to your warehouse by email, telephone or fax. Data entry into your WMS is time consuming and it’s easy to make re-keying errors. An alternative is to ask your customers to send their orders in an Excel spreadsheet. How does it work?

We will create an Excel workbook with a customized order worksheet to match the requirements of your WMS. At a minimum, the columns in the spreadsheet will include customer number, ship to name…

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EDI for a Flat Monthly Fee. How is it possible?

Here’s a common scenario for a company that has four EDI trading partners exchanging 1,500 EDI transactions per month. Ask any EDI outsourcing service provider the following question: “What trading partner setup fees do you charge and exactly how much is EDI going to cost us every month?”, then listen while they dance around the answer. They can’t give you a straight answer because their pricing model is confusing on purpose. If you ask me the same question, I will tell you there are zero…

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Omni Channel Part 5: The Technology Burden for 3PLs

This is the final article in this series on Omni Channel. 

The technology burden lies with 3PLs to accommodate the different ordering methods their customers prefer to use. EDI was created 30 years ago to bring a level of standardization to data formats in B2B exchanges. It has lived up to expectations for some, but not everyone (see EDI: A standard that’s not really standard). There are other data formats like CSV and XML, and it’s up to the 3PL to accommodate those formats too. Now that…

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Omni Channel Part 4: Warehouse Management


See Omni Channel Part 3: Order Management

Order Management and Warehouse Management are tightly connected. Order Management communicates with customers while Warehouse Management communicates with warehouse personnel. Regardless of the source for omni channel orders, they all enter the same warehouse management system (WMS). The WMS is responsible for organizing orders for picking and shipping in the most efficient manner.

Omni channel presents different challenges for Warehouse…

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Omni Channel Part 3: Order Management

It’s the retailer's responsibility to create an omni channel order experience for their customers. It’s now up to the 3PL to deliver the goods fast and preserve a positive buying experience for the consumer. To achieve this, there are two business processes that 3PLs employ in an omni channel environment: Order Management and Warehouse Management.

Order Management collects orders from all possible sources. Just like consumers can purchase products in different ways, 3PLs must be able to…

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Omni Channel Part 2: New Buying Practices

Buying from a traditional retailer is straight forward. You walk into a store, pick some items off the shelf, pay at the register and take them home. In an omni channel environment, there are new ways to make purchases and each method represents a different challenge for retailers.

See Part 1: What is Omni Channel?

Say you want to buy a new television. You start comparing brands and reading product reviews online. Next you look for the lowest price and make a purchase online. If you’re…

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Omni Channel Part 1: What is Omni Channel?

If you look up omni in the dictionary it has the following meaning: in all ways or places; everywhere; universal. From a retailing perspective, Omni Channel means providing a consumer with a seamless shopping experience in the method that the consumer prefers. 

Consumers want products now rather than later and it’s in retailers’ best interests to fulfill that need. Whether the consumer is in a bricks and mortar store, visiting the retailer’s web site or reading a product review, the retailer…

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What is an EDI kilo-character?

Before the Internet, private Value Added Networks (VANs) took care of moving EDI data between trading partners. They stored the data in electronic mailboxes on their servers and used high speed telephone lines to move the data from one VAN to another. Customers would use regular telephone lines to send and receive data from their mailbox on their chosen VAN.

The telecommunications companies charged VANs a fee based on the speed that data was transferred through the telephone lines. They spoke…

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The ideal time to change your EDI system

I’ve met many 3PLs who operate very complex and expensive EDI systems. They purchased software, hired IT personnel and pay antiquated VAN fees. Or, they outsourced EDI and pay excessive setup fees every time a new customer asks for EDI.  Often I will ask a 3PL provider this rhetorical question “Are you in the EDI business or the 3PL business?” 

The answer is clear but some 3PLs spend far too much time and money on EDI. Those resources should be allocated for warehousing and distribution…

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EDI World Magazine: A Blast from the Past

I’ve been around the EDI industry for so long that I’ve become nostalgic about it. You probably think I need to “get a life” or maybe I’m just a geek at heart. 

I remember the days when EDI trade shows were the place to be to learn what’s going on in the industry. EDI World magazine was also a good source of information and the best way to communicate trends, plus it provided a captive audience for advertisers. The premier issue of EDI World came out in October 1990 and the...

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Integral Group - EDI Services for Suppliers and 3PLs since 1986

500 Hood Road, Suite 330
Markham, Ontario L3R 9Z3