Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

Last week I was on the road (of course). I had decided to make a last trip for this year to my Northern-most client. They are located in Scarboro, Maine. You might expect that I found a good restaurant in the area, and you would be right. Bayley's Lobster Pound at Plummer Island, is right on an inland bay with a decent view of the water and truly marvelous fresh lobster.

Actually it's difficult to find a restaurant that isn't good along the coast of Maine, but because I've made it a habit to try a different one at every opportunity, I've definitely found a couple.

While I was checking my email that night I found a note from a reader asking for help with resolving her EDI problems. I did offer some advice, but I was surprised that her company was having such problems at a point in time when EDI services and suppliers seem to be getting so much better than they had been only a couple years ago.

Her company has grown from a staff of 3 to a multi-million dollar operation with a 20 employees. Much of that growth has been due to the company's success with its largest customer, Wal-Mart/Sam's Club. If you deal with those companies you know that they are doing direct shipping to stores. She is managing more than 15,000 invoices and direct shipping to 2,700+ stores.

All that sounds like great business. Great that is, if you have the systems in place to support and deal with it properly. It seems that growth has snuck up on the company because they are using Inovis' Trusted Link for Windows along with E-Supply Link's Comply Link for labels and packing slips. By her account, neither of these systems have good ways of dealing with the kinds and sizes of orders they are now processing.

In order to fix the problem the company enlisted Datex to write what she called a "super program that would do everything," but three weeks before the company was to ship an order bound for 2,500+ locations, Datex decided they wouldn't be able to create the program and dropped out of the agreement. She wasn't happy.

She decided to take her vacation since there was little she could change by staying home. While away, another employee found what they thought to be the answer in web-based EZCOM. She returned only to find that EZCOM wasn't ASN compliant with Wal-Mart on the 5010 version.

I could almost feel the frustration through her email as she explained that E-Supply link is helping by doing some programming to make their system handle the job for her.

I don't see a happy ending in this current plan. And it's really too bad, because like restaurants along the Maine coast, there are plenty of highly capable EDI providers around. This is even more tragic because if ever there was a pervasive customer with well documented and widely adopted practices, it's Wal-Mart.

I'm confident that given just a little time and the ability to interview a few EDI companies, she will find several that have good track records and verifiable histories in dealing with the likes of Wal-Mart and large, distributed orders.

In the mean time, I was fortunate enough to scoot South and West before the early October snow buried much of Upstate New York and stranded me in Maine. Not that I would have minded testing out a few more lobster mongers before leaving.


Last modified on Friday, 17 February 2012
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