So a customer calls us saying, “I’m going to be a supplier to Wal-Mart! They loved my product. All they need is for me to be EDI-capable. Can EDI Gateway help me with this?”
What we should be asking the customer at this point is, “Which supply chain will you be using: DSD, FXD, VMI, or .com? Are you certified for SCC-14?” But of course we don’t, because at this point it would only confuse them.
Instead, we begin guiding them through the complex processes of e-commerce. We talk about testing, certification, and the myriad business rules that govern product packaging, shipping, and invoicing—the things that define what it really means to be EDI-capable.
The conversation with customers varies. Sometimes the response to our solution offerings is, “Um, I’m a farmer, I sell milk and cheese, a lot of it. I have no computers. What exactly do I have to do?” As funny as that may seem, we do come across such scenarios. Through the technology we have built, combined with the farmer’s fax machine, we’re able to ensure that the retailer he supplies sees him as an EDI-compliant e-commerce partner.
To the new supplier for Wal-Mart who asks if EDI Gateway can help, we simply say, “Yes.” We demystify EDI and provide them with everything they need to start and sustain a successful business relationship with their trading partner.
We often collaborate with other Microsoft partners, using their ERP, accounting, and integration expertise and merging it with ours. As a Canadian company, we have found the Worldwide Partner Conference to be the important meeting place for us to find synergy with other partners. We come back to it every year, and each time return home with new ways to work with other partners, Microsoft, and technology.
Recently we collaborated with another Microsoft partner on an extensive deployment of our solutions and services to a large enterprise retailer. We met this partner at the New Orleans WPC. In fact, we traveled halfway across the continent to find a partner from our own backyard, Montreal! The Connect Network and other infrastructure at WPC connect partners in a way that sparks mutually beneficial collaborations that would otherwise not have materialized.
On the technology side, Microsoft provides the building blocks that support EDI parsing and translation, as well as communications components and cloud infrastructure. As a partner, we provide the applications and solutions, imbued with our business and industry know-how to ensure compliant e-commerce between supplier, retailer, and third-party logistics provider.
In future posts we’ll share our experiences as a Microsoft partner—what it has meant for our business, what it has meant for our customers, and where we see it taking us in the future. We want to share our trials and tribulations with the technology, our successful collaborations, and how Microsoft and other partners have helped us go places we never would have expected.