GXS, a provider of B2B integration services, today announced that GXS Intelligent Web Forms (IWF) allows manufacturers to quickly and easily enable their smaller retail customers to issue purchase orders electronically. IWF creates forms to digitise the full lifecycle of supply chain transactions with the customer community from purchase orders and order changes to electronic invoices and remittance advices. By integrating directly with GXS Catalogue, the retail industry’s leading data synchronisation application that supports product, price and image information, web forms ensure that retail buyers can only select valid, preauthorised SKUs for inclusion on purchase orders.
Most large retail chains issue purchase orders to their suppliers electronically using EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) but smaller, independent store owners often lack the budget, resources and expertise to support these B2B integration technologies. As a result, a high percentage of the purchase orders issued from smaller retailers are transmitted via fax, email or spreadsheet, creating an efficiency drag on the operations of large suppliers. Using GXS web forms, suppliers of food and beverage, apparel and footwear and other consumer products can offer their customers the option to issue purchase orders online. As a SaaS offering, GXS IWF does not require small retailers to license, install or maintain software. The web-based forms mimic the paper equivalents making the application easy to use without training or technical expertise.
By integrating with GXS Catalogue, the web forms can present users with a preloaded list of available and authorised items for each customer. Catalogue integration ensures that users do not mistakenly request SKUs that are unauthorised, discontinued or non-existent. Retail SKUs consist of long alphanumeric strings which can easily be transposed or mistyped in an electronic ordering system. Some SKUs have special characters such as hyphens or spaces which further complicate the order entry process. Catalogue-based web forms reduce the amount of exception processing and order handling expenses for suppliers. Higher quality purchase order data also reduces the likelihood of shipping delays and out-of-stocks for the retailers.
“Leading suppliers of consumer products and general merchandise have automated many of the order-to-cash and demand planning processes with their larger retail customers. These large suppliers have struggled to gain the same efficiencies with smaller retail chains and independent stores,” said Melanie Nuce, director of retail industry marketing for GXS. “Catalogue-based web ordering offers a cost-effective approach to quickly achieving supply chain efficiencies with small retailers and opens up the opportunity for better customer service.”