You have a website, perhaps a line card, business cards, other collateral for your business, yes? And you have or soon will have the capability to exchange business documents with customers, suppliers or other trading partners via EDI or other ways that significantly reduce the time spent by your most valuable asset, your people, as they handle daily business transactions. This new capability also improves accuracy, decreases cycle times and improves relationships with those same trading partners. You may have made a significant investment in dollars and experience to get to this point. You may have had to do it at the behest of a single significant trading partner. Well, that was the hard part and now you have an important new tool! One of the easiest ways to increase your return on that investment and increase your business’s profit is to add more trading partners or business documents.
That means it’s time to prepare your Electronic Trading Profiles. What’s that you ask? Well, we’ve talked a lot about documentation in our blogs and this is one more piece to add to your library. What we like to do is prepare a one-page document for each client that identifies the contacts, the documents capable of being traded and the communication possibilities to do so. We recommend it be used by anyone at the company who is responsible for cultivating business relationships, including the company president, operations managers, buyers, business development reps, and customer service. It should be trotted out and shared with your company’s identified prospects for electronic trading amongst existing and potential customers or suppliers. It can even serve as a reminder and update of your capabilities to existing trading partners. It’s not necessary for your internal associate or the rep from your potential new trading partner to understand the details of the Profile, only that it means your company can help both parties realize more PROFIT. Typically, the Profile is passed along to the technical folks for comment and concurrence before an agreement to proceed is reached.
Here’s how to get started:
Consider your unconnected trading partners first as they are the easiest with your familiarity and historical data to analyze and rank for suitability also considering projected activity. Remember, it’s not usually high dollar value of the activity with that partner, as much as it is number of transactions that should drive your suitability ranking. This is a function of the much lower processing cost per transaction of electronic vs manual handling. This is a tried-and-true tactic, and we see it in use every day by major retailers from AutoZone to Walmart. Other business factors may also refine the recruiting pool, including potential for increasing volume, risk of loss, appreciation for your leadership in such matters, and lots of routine transactions.
Expanding into additional markets with new partners might now be easier. Your electronic trading capability can be mentioned on your website and become part of your marketing resume. It makes you easier with whom to do business and positions you as forward-thinking and efficient. Revisit old customer prospects for those that did not engage because of your lack of electronic trading capability. Consider adding new product lines from suppliers who previously shut you out because you weren’t EDI capable.
You can now model ‘Big Dog’ behavior. You may have suppliers who are not now EDI or otherwise capable nor likely to become so but who value your business. Perhaps a group of them would be willing to work with you via a web portal especially if there’s the possibility of an increase in your annual spend with them or an improvement in terms. From your supplier’s perspective, all activity would take place on the portal and be driven by your e-mailed notice of an order. Internally, with ERP integration, all activity would use your existing electronic capability, i.e. the portal is loaded with purchase orders generated by your own ERP. Then your supplier’s acknowledgment, shipment and invoice flow from their use of the portal right back into your ERP.
These Electronic Trading Profiles are the key to all this fun and PROFIT! Once launched, this very same Profile is a terrific jump start for the new Trading relationship to be well on the way to generating more Profit. And speaking of jump starts, please fill out the form below to download a sample Electronic Trading Profile you may find helpful.
Here are examples for some of the fields:
Current Messages Supported: X12 850 PO inbound 4010; EDIFACT ORDERS inbound D12A; XML PO inbound; X12 850 PO outbound all versions; electronic-generated PDF PO inbound; etc
Third-Party Network: Liaison Exchange Network; Kleinschmidt; etc
Interchange Qualifier & ID: 12/1234567890T for Test; 12/1234567890 for Production
Group ID: 1234567890 for Test and Production
AS2 section: See your 3rd party coordinator on these details if it is a trading option
Additional Capabilities: FTP; sFTP; Hosted Web Portal
Click below for a sample Electronic Trading Profile template: