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Posts Tagged ‘Keith Shay’

Electronic Data Interchange Terms Publishers Should Know

Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is computer-to-computer communication of business documents, in a standardized format, between two companies. Even though publishers are being put under pressure by big distributors to implement EDI transactions, there is much confusion about what an EDI transaction really is.

Electronic data interchange has created a vocabulary of specific terms that publishers will need to be familiar with. Below is an English version of some of those technical terms.

You can now download the “Guide to EDI for Publishers,” which includes the full glossary of terms, from the white paper library on the Ware-Pak website, along with any of our other white papers. To do so, please click here.

Purchase Order Acknowledgements:
A POA tells the bookstore the status of their Purchase Order: what books were shipped, back-ordered, canceled, the list price, and discount.

Transaction Set:
A transaction set is the EDI term for a business document. Each transaction set has a standard three-digit numerical code that identifies it.

The four most common sets are: 850: Purchase Order (PO); 855: Purchase Order Acknowledgement (POA); 856: Advance Ship Notice (ASN); 810: Invoice

Important Note: Your first two EDI transaction sets must be Purchase Orders and Purchase Order Acknowledgements. Future transaction sets are your choice.

ANSI X12:
This cryptic term refers to the overall set of standards governing the use of EDI documents by all industries in the U.S. It is the protocol that makes sure all items on a document land in the right spaces. Usually called “X12.”

Translation Software:
The program that takes an EDI standardized X12 document and converts, or translates it, into a format that your Order Processing computer can recognize.

Communication Software:
The program that allows you to connect to your EDI mailbox.

Descriptions of EDI Mailbox, VAN, EDI Provider and several additional terms can be found in the white paper “A Guide to EDI for Publishers” in the Ware-Pak White Paper Library. If you’d like to request a PDF of any of the white papers in our library, please contact me directly. I can be reached at (708) 587-4116 or kshay@ware-pak.com

A Guide To EDI For Publishers

Publishers are being put under a great deal of pressure by the big distributors, such as Amazon, Baker & Taylor and Border’s, to implement EDI transactions. There is a lot of confusion about what an EDI transaction is. I decided to put together this blog post to help explain some of these technical terms.

EDI: What does it stand for and what exactly is it?

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, is a computer-to-computer of business documents, in a standardized format, between two companies.

Although it has a technical-sounding name, EDI is fundamentally a business initiative that has been developed over the past 30 years. It was pioneered by the transportation, retail and grocery industries in an effort to increase quality and customer service, and offer long-term cost benefits. EDI also represents a major step in creating a paperless office.

By replacing paper documents, such as purchase orders or invoices, with their EDI “equivalent” (a computer-readable EDI document), four key benefits are realized:

  1. Accuracy is increased because human intervention (the acts of entering and re-keying data) is eliminated.
  2. Timeliness is increased (the electronic transmission of forms eliminates the delays inherent in conventional mail, or even Fax).
  3. Customer service process is automated.
  4. Bottom line costs are reduced for the trading partners.

The Definition of EDI Explained:

“Computer-to-computer” means that the data you send or receive from a bookstore (the most common examples are invoices or purchase orders) is communicated via electronic transmission, without human intervention or interpretation.

“Business documents” means that EDI will be used for the exchange of specific documents only, such as purchase orders or invoices.

“Standardized format” is at the heart of EDI and causes much confusion among publishers. EDI requires you to follow standards that define the format and content of your business documents. When you start using EDI, PO’s and invoices will be converted by the EDI translation software program into the exact same format as those used by all the other publishers using EDI. (The publishing industry EDI standards have been set by the BISAC – recently renamed BASIC – committee of the Book Industry Study Group.) This means that each purchase order, invoice, or pack slip will be completely readable by any computer used by any bookseller using EDI.

In Summary:

When you do business via EDI, you send business documents directly from one computer to another, the documents are in a machine-processable format, the exchange is limited to documents, and the document exchange is governed by standards.

EDI has also created a vocabulary of terms that publishers should know. These terms will be posted in a separate entry later this week. The terms, as well as this guide to EDI for publishers, will be available in whitepaper form on our website, in our Whitepaper Library, shortly. Stay tuned! If you’d like to request a PDF of any of the whitepapers in our library, please contact me directly. I can be reached at (708) 587-4116 or kshay@ware-pak.com

Open Communication & Financial Stability are Essential in a Fulfillment Partner

When choosing a third party fulfillment center, two additional and important issues to consider are the quality of communication and the financial stability of the warehouse.

On the surface, all order fulfillment services may look alike and offer similar services. However, when you take a closer look at their individual methods of delivering those services, there can be large differences. As you investigate the process of outsourcing to an order fulfillment service, you need to really think about what you want and what you need in a business partner to help grow your business.

I’ve discussed several things that I feel are crucial to choosing the right operation. Today, I’d like to discuss two more – “Communication” and “Financial Stability”.

Communication

Communication is always mission critical. There will always be times that require changes in the customer’s address, cancellation of an order or checking specific stock. The fulfillment center that you select must be available by phone, email and fax. You should never have to wait more than an hour or two for any request.

Financial Stability

Your fulfillment center must be financially sound – especially during the current economic environment. You will want to question how much debt the fulfillment center is carrying, if they look and act like a profitable company, their Dunn & Bradstreet rating and whether or not they are willing to give bank references.

There are several other important considerations when choosing an order fulfillment service. They are now available in a Whitepaper on our website. If you have additional questions, or are interested in receiving this white paper by email, please feel free to contact me directly. I can be reached at (708) 587-4116 or kshay@ware-pak.com

Additional factors to consider when choosing an order fulfillment service…

In today’s entry I’m going to discuss two additional factors that I believe should be considered when a publisher, large or small, is choosing an order fulfillment service. These factors are “Turn Around Time” and “Technology”.

Turn Around Time

Every warehouse has its own procedures for handling order processing and the amount of time that is acceptable. You need to be aware of what time files are accepted and when you can expect orders to be shipped. You have to take these deadline times into account and see if they fit your client’s needs in terms of shipping times.

A standard in the industry is 3 business days for shipping. You need to determine if this is a timeframe that your client can live with. There are fulfillment warehouses that ship within 2 business days and some are offering same day shipping. You must choose which level of service will help you grow your business.

Technology

When it comes to the various types of technology within an order fulfillment facility, you must explore your needs. In any fulfillment warehouse, technology takes on many forms. These may include:

  • Integrated business management systems for publishers
  • Warehouse management systems
  • RF technology
  • Automated picking systems
  • Mailing systems
  • EDI/ASN
  • Secured method for transferring data files
  • Customizable order interface
  • Push technology for business alerts
  • Customizable email alerts
  • Reports and Web based data reporting

There are still more important considerations when choosing an order fulfillment service that will be covered here. However, if you can’t wait to read them here, they are now available in a Whitepaper on our website. If you have additional questions, or are interested in receiving this white paper by email, please feel free to contact me directly. I can be reached at (708) 587-4116 or kshay@ware-pak.com

Choosing an Order Fulfillment Service… Part 3

When a publisher is choosing an order fulfillment service, there are several important factors to consider. Having a list of criteria that enhances the compan’s operation is essential. I have already discussed why location and size and volume are important factors when choosing a fulfillment partner. In today’s entry I’ll be discussing why management and staff, and percentage of error are also important.

Management and Staff

Everything that happens in the warehouse will be driven by the management and will convey their business philosophies. Once you find a fulfillment center whose location and size fits your needs, the next area to examine is the management and staff.

  • How long have they been associated with the company?
  • What has been their impact?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What are the key business indicators they use to manage the business?
  • How are key indicators measured and what is done with that information?

Percentage of Error

In most cases, the error is not as important as how the company handles the error. Whenever you have people and equipment, mistakes are bound to occur. There will be incidences when your clients will receive the wrong items, or a shipment is received at the billing address rather than the shipping address. When you speak to the management staff of a fulfillment center, ask if they measure error and how many there are. Ask them how mistakes are handled and what action is taken to prevent the same errors in the future.

Remember that these are only suggestions for criteria and it is crucial that you spend the time to develop a list of your specific needs. I will continue to discuss other important considerations when choosing an order fulfillment service. If you can’t wait to read them here, they are now available in a Whitepaper on our website. If you have additional questions, or are interested in receiving this white paper by email, please feel free to contact me directly. I can be reached at (708) 587-4116 or kshay@ware-pak.com


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