Small businesses that supply products to large retailers often live in two worlds. In order to do business with big companies they must send and receive information in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) format. However, their own back-end systems are typically based on QuickBooks, Peachtree or other accounting software not designed to comply with EDI standards.
That means they must be able to, for example, accept purchase order info in EDI format. But then they have to manually re-enter it into their ERP or accounting program. Then they must regenerate the invoice and send it in EDI format.
In a move to connect those two worlds of incompatible and redundant data, Emanio recently announced the availability of TradingPartner Complete, which the company claims makes the use of EDI easy and painless for any small and mid-sized businesses.
"Many small businesses are mandated to adopt EDI. They have to do it because they are being forced to. They must be able to accept orders through EDI," said Walter Paliska, vice president of marketing, at Emanio. "But then mistakes can be made in manual data entry."
"SMBs know they should do data integration, but can't don't do it because they lack in-house expertise," Paliska said.
TradingPartner Complete is designed to "integrate with low- and mid-market applications," Paliska said. "We're trying to solve the problems of overcoming skill and financial barriers."
While the SMB market is new for Emanio, the company's technology isn't new. In fact, Emanio CEO KG Charles-Harris said, the Emanio EDI platform is used by thousands of larger companies. The company's new TradingPartner Complete customers include businesses such as a "mom-and-pop shop that makes bird cages for Wal-Mart," he said.
"Many companies are afraid of EDI because it presents technical integration hurdles, a steep learning curve and an escalating IT budget, which usually placed it out of contention with small businesses," said Charles-Harris.
However, the errors that can occur without EDI are costly, according to Charles-Harris. "Large companies are very punitive on small trading partners. Penalties could be as much as $10,000." While it may seem steep, he added that larger businesses need to ensure the accuracy of the data from smaller partners. "Mistakes can wreak havoc for larger companies because retailers work on such slim margins."
According to the company, TradingPartner Complete comes with everything you need to integrate EDI into your back-end system. Pricing starts at $2,460 and comes with a two-hour installation and configuration session to ensure everything works. The price includes one preconfigured kit. Additional kits for accounting and ERP applications sell for $895 each.