Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

In this time of holiday spirit, gift giving, and general good will, I have a heart-warming story to share. OK, it's not quite "It's a Wonderful Life," but the characters are nearly as surprising as those in the movie.
I started thinking about the proliferation of formats over the last few weeks after I read Marlow's column about retailers requirements for a variety of order formats. For all these years I have been creating 875, 850 X12 maps and EDIFAC Orders maps. But until now it hadn't really hit me that each of these is really just an order.

I can understand how, if a retailer is strictly in grocery and does not buy products that aren't sold by mass merchants, that they would want to use the 875. However, these days I am not aware of any that are not buying general merchandise. Instead of requiring the suppliers use a dufferebt EDI document for each segment of the business, can’t we be a little flexible?

Getting a new document set up and tested can be a harrowing experience for many smaller suppliers. When signing up with a new customer, there are plenty of pressures to go along with the good news of landing the new account. This is particularly distressing when they have to call in resources to help with the project. And running the new document through whatever testing procedures are required can prove costly in both time and dollars.

So why, when the customer is most likely already accepting both 850s and 875s, would it make sense to mandate the supplier submit a document chosen arbitrarily by the customer?

The happy ending is that Target has seen the light and made life at least a little simpler for some for some of its suppliers. It seems that Target worked with SPS Commerce to enable the grocery part of its business, and requested the setup of an 875 to support it. SPS Commerce, to its credit recommended that Target allow its vendors to make their own choices as to which document (850 or 875) they wanted to use. And Target recognized that in this case, less was more. 

The end result is that there is one less transaction type, since the one that was already in use (at least through the SPS connection) doesn't require another setup on the part of the suppliers who were already using the 850.

So, sometimes there actually are good things to report. I'm looking forward to having a couple weeks to myself... at least for the rest of this year. In January I have a full schedule in front of me, with stops all along the southern US. Look for me on the road, or better yet, let me know your favorite eating establishment and I'll do my best to make a stop as I pass through.

Happy Holidays to All
Last modified on Friday, 17 February 2012
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