Supplier enablement is one of those phrases that typically has the small business owner shaking in his boots. It normally goes like this…you get an email from your customer that you will be contacted soon by an EDI provider who will “help” you become EDI compliant. Once you speak to the EDI provider, you find out that you have to use this provider or you will have to pay them, the EDI provider that is, not the customer, a hefty testing fee. WHAT?
More and more large retailers are opting to have their EDI testing and their entire supplier enablement program handled by an EDI provider. I can think of three off the top of my head that have adopted this practice. Why do they do this you might be asking? Well, it’s a win for the retailer AND the EDI provider. The retailer no longer has to deal with EDI testing. And the EDI provider gets paid whether you use their solution or not. You may not like it, but you cannot deny that it’s smart.
This is the old way. There is a new method of EDI onboarding that is starting to gain momentum. This new method involves respecting your supplier community by offering them choices, understanding that not every supplier is a good candidate for EDI and recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t make sense. Andy Davies of Davies/Woerner Group writes in their blog that the 5 best practices in an effective supplier enablement program are:
- Recognize that every supplier is an independent business
- Offer a range of non-exclusive technologies
- Develop two channels of communication – internal and external
- Utilize a phased rollout approach
- Keep the program going – it’s a journey
Obviously, this is very different than the status quo. I have had clients drop their customers because they didn’t like the status quo (nor did they want to pay the $500 testing fee). Adopting a more modern approach to supplier enablement means everyone wins and you will be left with stronger trading partner relationships.
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