Smarter supply chain solutions not only boost operational and cost efficiency -- they can significantly minimize a company’s environmental impact.
“Going green” is no longer just a way of life for the eco-conscious consumer; it has become a full-fledged best practice for companies across the globe. Beyond meeting the increasingly common consumer demand for sustainable products, implementing systems that reduce waste also cuts costs across operations.
Nowhere is this more true than in retail, where supply chain management is often riddled with bureaucratic and communications inefficiencies that increase waste (and therefore overall spend). Integrating an EDI solution that streamlines supply chain operations -- which are now more convoluted and data-saturated than ever before -- is essential to minimize costs and maximize sustainability.
Suppliers and retailers know that successful trading depends on the rapid and accurate exchange of information. The challenges of keeping inventory stocked to appropriate levels, processing orders, and managing returns -- challenges that only grow as the number of trading partners increases -- are exacerbated when organizations rely on antiquated or outdated systems, particularly those that depend on manual management.
With the rise of the omni-channel retail landscape, streamlining these processes has become a non-negotiable requirement. Suppliers now have to deliver their products to a greater range of locations than ever before -- big box retailers, boutiques, and directly to the consumer, just to name a few -- and customers expect their orders to be delivered whenever and wherever is most convenient. As a result, the number of players involved in a given transaction has dramatically increased, severely complicating the logistics and coordination required to meet these evolving demands.
EDI solutions, like those offered by TrueCommerce, facilitate such coordination by acting as a digital highway connecting every link in a supply chain, enabling the immediate exchange of valuable information while simultaneously automating once arduous manual tasks. In other words, EDI optimizes order processing and lowers the associated costs by a significant margin.
For an example of this solution in action, take Cali Bamboo, a San Diego-based company that uses eco-friendly materials for flooring and other building projects. In light of the rapid increase in demand for sustainable products, Cali Bamboo’s sales numbers not only doubled in less than two years -- they also secured a valuable partnership with Lowe’s in early 2015. As a result, the company found itself in need of a new tech solution in order to effectively scale its electronic order tracking systems to facilitate this rapid rate of growth.
With the help of TrueCommerce’s EDI platform, Cali Bamboo was not only able to effectively track product purchases from order to billing -- they were able to increase sales numbers by a full 120% in Q1 compared to the same time the previous year and project a total sales growth of 90% in 2016.
Such improvements in efficiency have important implications beyond simply cutting down the cost per order, however; companies that implement an EDI system can also expect to see a dramatic reduction in their paper waste. According to reduce.org, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper every year -- equivalent to an entire tree. From invoices to shipping notices, almost all business forms are automated and shared electronically with an EDI system, minimizing a company’s reliance on paper documents and diminishing their carbon footprint in the process.
Furthermore, because using EDI reduces the likelihood of errors in the ordering process by up to 40%, the number of reorders and returns is also reduced, which likewise makes for a more environmentally sustainable supply chain -- the less products must be transported back and forth, the less fuel is needed to ship them, reducing harmful emissions and infrastructural wear and tear in the process.
More accurately meeting immediate demand similarly reduces shipping and fuel inefficiencies. Rather than over-stocking certain items and falling behind on others, retailers know exactly what products are needed, and where. That’s because any changes in inventory -- whether to volume, location, shipping delays, etc. -- are updated automatically in real-time, giving companies invaluable insights that help them address any problems before they arise, thereby avoiding unnecessary shipments.
In addition to creating a more fuel-efficient supply chain, real-time updates enable trading partners to keep each other informed of any crucial developments -- a late shipment, for example. Such transparency fosters trust, thereby bolstering business relationships and maximizing a company’s growth potential.