By Ed Collupy, executive consultant, W. Capra Consulting Group
It’s the time of year of giving and reflection—throughout the convenience store industry people come together in many different forums and give of their time to help each other and you. As I look back on 2015 one group that has been hard at work advocating for and educating us on how retailers and suppliers can better work together through an electronic business to business (eB2B) work process is the Retail Merchandise Working Group within Conexxus.
Sebastian Conner, senior supply chain eB2B analyst, at Love’s Travel Stops provided insights at the NACS Show back in October about their Supplier Portal Vendor Link. Jeff Toeppner, director, e-business solutions at Coca-Cola Co., at the same NACS education session was asked by retailers to help them accelerate their local bottler engagement which Jeff agreed to do. Together with other colleagues at Conexxus they are leading the way identifying established standards processes that you can follow to efficiently and easily work with suppliers to implement right away. Love’s has 90%+ of their suppliers collaborating electronically.
Sharon Skoruppa, controller at Buc-ee’s and Liz Sertl, manager, customer business solutions at Anheuser Busch InBev have delivered an eB2B call to action present this year as well. Working hand-in-hand, both know the great success that comes from sending invoices, submitting price book info and exchanging statement data electronically. Their experience says to bring suppliers along with key resources, including store operations, from within the retailer’s company into the planning process.
Store processes are impacted when eB2B is implemented; many for the better
There are all kinds of ways to exchange eB2B data whether you use EDI X12, proprietary files (e.g. spreadsheets), or our industry developed standard – NAXML-EDI Format. The good news is that you don’t need to know what these ‘data packages’ even stand for in order to unwrap the benefits. Your back office partner and many of your direct store delivered product suppliers stand ready to help you.
This is truly evidenced in a recent interview back-office provider SSCS did with Toeppner where he described EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) as a service that creates “maps to enable various business transactions” between Coca-Cola bottlers and their convenience store customers. And no need to worry about the Grinch stealing data. Toeppner went on to say, “by implementing secure file exchange via EDI….order through payment can be more efficient…” since banks, suppliers and third parties will be all connected to the retailer.
Taking a look through the competitive lens eB2B is common practice for drug, foodservice and dollar stores and is another reason, even if you are a small to mid-sized operator, you should utilize the services your suppliers and partners are ready to assist you with.
It’s the holiday season, so give yourself and your company a present—make a resolution to take steps early in the New Year to take advantage of eB2B. You can learn more about eB2B at http://www.conexxus.org/content/eb2b-committee and as you measure savings I’m sure you will see it will be a gift that keeps on giving.
Ed Collupy, executive consultant at W. Capra Consulting Group can be reached at [email protected] and be sure to visit www.capraplus.com for more retail technology insights. Collupy has IT leadership and business team experience directing and supporting retail systems for store operations, merchandising, fuel, and accounting teams in the C-Store industry.