Today there are more partners with EDI capabilities and if they do not have in-house solutions they do have access to electronic trading through the cloud to support any data requirement. Collaboration for Retailers back in the 90's was generic. For example "I need your item data, I want to share my planned future purchases through a forecast and I need shipping information to manage my receiving process." Today that has expanded to shipping labels with the UCC128 barcode on cartons and pallets, managing Point of Sale data, and it's about orders statuses.
Where many of the functional transactions are important to retailers running their businesses more efficiently, with the move to suppliers shipping directly to the end consumer, those statuses have become extremely important. With the DS model, retailers are no longer in control of the inventory, thus are not able to track the consumers' shipments effectively. There is a growing need for suppliers to provide these status updates.
As Marlow had indicated, the use of the 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment is one of the first triggers for suppliers to provide status. Some Retailers are using this document as confirmation of the receipt of the order (997 on steroids) however these days the content of the 855 is more important than a receipt of the acknowledgement. They are looking for the supplier to provide the expected ship or delivery date of the customer's order so that this can be shared with their customer. If the supplier is unable to ship as required, the end consumer can make an informed decision to leave the order as is or cancel.
There is another document that is starting to become more widely used which is the 870 Order Status Response (in some cases the 869 is being used for the request). For Brick and Mortar Retailers the 870 is being used by suppliers to report their plan for backordered orders/items once the initial ASN has been sent. In other cases, both Retailers and E-tailers are using the 869 (Order Status Inquiry) to request the status of the order, thus the supplier provides the 870 as the status response.
With the increasing expectations by consumers for instant information, Retailers, E-tailers and suppliers have to realize the need for communicating information as soon as its available. Are you part of the Collaboration swing? What's keeping you from moving forward with supporting your customers (if you're a retailer) and helping you Retailers (if you're a supplier)?