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After you land your first retailer, the next step often proves to be the challenge: a retail channel strategy. This process is vital to your success as you work within a complex supply chain.
Each retailer possesses their own unique set of requirements for their merchant community. These may include specific business processes for suppliers to exchange data and other essential requirements such as invoices, purchase orders, and ASNs.
EDI (Electronic Document Interchange)
As you continue to scale, you will likely need to provide data to your retailers via EDI (Electronic Document Interchange). EDI is defined as the electronic exchange of important business documents (i.e. purchase orders, order acknowledgments, invoices, ASNs). Oftentimes, EDI is sourced through a third party logistics company. With a 3PL on your side, you won’t have the stress and hassle of all the varying requirements from individual retailers – making your process simplified on your end.
That being said, it’s important to understand the two types of cloud-based EDI solutions: managed services and full-service.
Managed EDI vs Full-Service EDI
Managed EDI service is a cloud-based solution in which the provider develops and maintains critical technology, while the customer’s internal staff are responsible for the day-to-day optimization. This type of service has updated versions of traditional licensed software in which each company has its own particular EDI software operating in the cloud on an ongoing basis.
A full-service solution provides a cloud-based solution responsible for customizing and optimizing technology. With this service, the provider carries out a business on behalf of the customer. With this method, a full-service provider must understand external business rules on your behalf across your entire data and customer base.
Building a Retail Channel Strategy
With an EDI in place, you’ll experience exponential growth by adding new retailers or channels. To increase sales over time, you need to ensure you’re providing your retailers with excellent service. If doing business with you is simplified and straightforward, retailers will be more open to expanding your product offerings in the future with promotional materials.
Consistency and timeliness in fulfilling orders will also prove to maintain a strong relationship with trading partners. In 2023, consumers expect instant responses across channels, no matter what time their inquiry or purchase was made. With endless socials and software at your disposal, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be a priority to tackle.
As retailers adapt to new consumer demands, their merchant community is expected to keep up as well. Responsive and streamlined business operations and relations with your retailers will showcase a beneficial, mutual partnership.
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