There was a time when all of the building blocks of business, from product ordering to invoicing, were handled over the phone and with paper documents. But today's technology allows businesses to replace that cumbersome manual method with a sleeker, more efficient way: electronic data interchange, or EDI. EDI leverages digital processes to enable file exchanging, thereby reducing time, error and the need for most paper documents.
Jeff Toeppner, director of eBusiness Solutions for Coca-Cola Consumer Business Solutions (CBS), explains that his group supports four main EDI processes: product ordering, delivery of product to customers, invoicing and billing. "Systems can process the data so that no person has to be involved with translating or keying in the data," Toeppner says. "An order sent via EDI in standard format goes to Coke nightly. We route it to the right bottler or company so they can process it and schedule delivery of the product. It's a much more efficient way to receive orders."
"Don't waste time and money with tasks that can be easily automated." — Jeff Toeppner
Standards Keep Efficiencies Rolling
All companies that use EDI send their data according to grocery industry standards. By keeping everyone on the same playing field, EDI is more efficient. Without standards, "everyone would be sending a different Excel spreadsheet, fax or making phone calls," Toeppner says.
When it comes to deciding whether to leverage EDI, the biggest hurdle for our partners is cost. Coca-Cola business partners have to decide how much money they want to invest in a system that will process or create the data needed. There are also EDI solution providers that enable EDI without having to implement systems. The larger the chain, the greater the efficiencies, but Toeppner says even a single store can benefit from EDI.
Over time, EDI yields quantifiable savings, yet an industry average is hard to define. "Each customer's savings is based on what his/her current cost is," Toeppner says. "If you’ve got eight people processing invoices, with EDI, they could be doing other things to benefit the company in innovative ways."
On-Board with EDI
EDI enablement is a relatively simple task, and most customers who already have software packages for inventory and accounting can install additional software to make them EDI compliant, Toeppner says. For those vendors who are interested, CBS can provide recommendations and consult on the best practices with EDI — at no charge to partners. "We want them to be efficient. We want to help them build their businesses," Toeppner says. "Don't waste time and money with tasks that can be easily automated."
For more information on EDI, contact Jeff Toepnner at firstname.lastname@example.org.