Among the many lessons we’ve learned in 2020, one of the biggest ones is this: without connectivity, our supply chains can easily be toppled by market changes. This article explores how integrated technology can help businesses increase their ability to navigate these changing markets, now and in the future.
Published by TrueCommerce
Among the many lessons we’ve learned in 2020, one of the biggest ones is this: without connectivity, our supply chains can easily be toppled by market changes. That’s not to say that supply chains could have prepared for COVID-19 in advance. But what we have seen is that companies leveraging connectivity and integrations to streamline communications and adapt to changes were able to bounce back more quickly.
Your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central system already offers powerful functionality. Built-in intelligence lets retailers and suppliers create and use sales and inventory forecasts to improve internal visibility. At the same time, purchasing data helps businesses see changes in customer demand as they happen. However, moving that data from your internal system to your trading partners and sales channels still requires manual effort, which presents two problems:
You might not have the bandwidth. Even after the reversal of regional shutdowns, many companies are still operating with fewer employees than before. At the same time, CPG companies are experiencing massive spikes in demand as consumers go out less and cook and clean at home more. With more orders and fewer internal resources, trying to manage your trading partner and customer communications by hand may prove to be impossible.
Manual processes are slow. Agility and adaptability are key to pivoting when supply chain disruptions strike, but you can only act as quickly as you receive information. Not only does manual data entry take significantly longer than digital automation—it also tends to be more error prone, and can lead to inconsistent, irregular updates, leaving your customers and trading partners with outdated information.
So, on one hand, sending data manually is harder than ever, and on the other hand, those receiving data are getting it too late. Integrations offer a solution by connecting the data in your Microsoft environment to your channels, order processing workflows, and partners, to help you not only see changes throughout your supply chain, but quickly respond to them.
Increasing Communication with Integrated EDI
You can’t address a problem you don’t know about. Integrated EDI technology streamlines partner communications, so everyone in your supply chain has real-time visibility into order status and movements.
For example, integrated EDI enables luxury linens producer Frette to automatically send data to and from their Microsoft Dynamics 365 environment. When EDI 850 Purchase Orders come in, they are imported directly into the Microsoft system. From there, the integrated solution retrieves the necessary data and automates the creation of documents like purchase order acknowledgements, warehouse shipping orders and advance shipping notices. In doing so, Frette is able to keep trading partners like Bloomingdales and Bed, Bath & Beyond in the loop—not only with up-to-date order information, but rapid alerts to any changes or issues that need to be addressed.
Accelerating Deliveries with Integrated Fulfillment
When customer demand spiked in early March, many retailers ran out of their on-hand stock faster than they thought possible. As a result, there was a huge influx in unexpected replenishment orders for everything from bread flour to toilet paper. Not only did suppliers need to send more products—they also needed to send them quickly to minimize the impact on retailers and their own bottom lines.
In this situation, fulfillment integration can help eliminate bottlenecks and improve efficiencies, allowing suppliers to respond to a demand change. For example, integrated shipping software can retrieve orders from your Microsoft Dynamics 365 and automate their movements through the fulfillment process—doing everything from printing compliant labels, to auto-filling billing and delivery addresses, to routing orders to warehouses and sending ASNs directly to the retailer. The integration ensures that incoming data moves smoothly into the fulfillment step, while the automation eliminates manual intervention at multiple milestones, so orders can be picked, packed, and shipped quickly.
Finding New Opportunities with eCommerce
It wasn’t just demand levels that have changed this year—there’s also been a clear shift in demand channels. While retail foot traffic remains down, even as economies reopen, eCommerce and digital marketplaces using drop shipping and direct to consumer fulfillment have become popular shopping options.
In order to take full advantage of digital commerce channels, businesses need to be able to give consumers accurate and updated information, much like retail trading partners. eCommerce integrations connect those digital channels to your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central system to do just that. The integration creates a bi-directional bridge, sending order data directly to your ERP for rapid processing, while sending back important data like inventory availability and order status updates.
Your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central environment already has the intelligent technology you need to manage inventory, forecast sales and improve your business operations. Now, it’s time to take those powerful capabilities to the next level.
By connecting to your trading partners, you can quickly exchange up-to-date information and stay on top of supply chain changes. By automating your fulfillment processes, you can deliver more to keep shelves full. And by integrating with digital demand channels, you can quickly pivot along with consumer shopping trends to mitigate losses and perhaps find new growth opportunities. In short, you’ll create a more connected, more supported supply chain that’s ready for whatever comes next.
TrueCommerce is the most complete way to connect your business across the supply chain, integrating everything from EDI, to inventory management, to fulfillment, to digital storefronts and marketplaces, to your business system, and to whatever comes next. To stay ahead in today’s dynamic global market, companies need to be able to do business in a lot of different directions at once. But too often, doing so means too many solutions and too much assembly required. For decades TrueCommerce has helped businesses be more connected, more supported, and more prepared for what’s next. That’s why thousands of companies – ranging from startups to the global Fortune 100, across various industries – rely on us.