Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Cecil's Takes a Gander

applepieLast week I was taking the slow and casual route toward the Southland, and had pulled into one of my long time favorite roadside eateries. I was just finishing up my slice of Mother Mabry's apple pie and a cup of coffee when I got a call from one of my clients asking to know what his trading partner ID was. After asking him just a couple of questions, I learned that he had received a survey from one of his customers, Gander Mountain, who was asking him about using web forms. Interesting question, I thought, but why would Gander Mountain even care? Is Gander Mountain getting into the EDI service provider business?

My client was baffled by this request, as was I, so I suggested that he simply phone the originator of the survey and ask what it was about. I wasn't on the call (I was finishing my pie at the time) but he called me back once he hung up with Gander Mountain, so I don't have a transcript of the conversation, but the essence is this.

Apparently, Gander has developed its own web form for collecting EDI transactions. In itself, this is nothing really new, lots of retailers have done something similar as a convenience to their smaller suppliers. By doing so, the suppliers can fill in the web form and submit directly to their customers. A few years ago, this was a popular option for avoiding the significant costs involved with setting up an EDI system in house, and connecting through a VAN. Retailers were able to onboard their suppliers, and suppliers were happy to avoid a lot of costs.

An interesting part of the survey was that it asked for my client's trading partner ID. Surely Gander Mountain knows the IDs of all its partners. In fact, one wonders why they would even need it at the preliminary stage of information gathering. If I didn't know better, I would think the survey had been generated by a company that didn't know anything about processing EDI

I pondered these questions as I ordered just one more slice of pie and a refill of my coffee. I don't know whether it was the effect of the pie or the prospect of spending another 3 hours on the highway, but the feeling of deja-vu swept over me as I remembered all the years spent talking suppliers through their frustrations with retailers' mandates. I thought we had got past that those dark days, but I see that we haven't


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