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Produce companies take fresh approach to supply chain

26 March 2012

UK fresh produce companies are turning to OneTime, Wesupply’s fully managed EDI service, to help them meet UK food retailers’ and supermarkets’ growing electronic trading stipulations

Berry Gardens, Vitacress and Produce World amongst others have switched from complex and expensive on premise EDI systems to OneTime in the last 15 months. Hundreds of daily orders and stringent information requirements mandated by supermarkets have led to a rethink amongst soft fruit co-ops and salad growers on how they manage and transfer critical order information.

Large supermarkets and food retailers require fresh produce suppliers to provide guaranteed and accurate data about orders, invoices and shipments. The cost and complexity of using traditional on-premise EDI systems to handle these growing data requirements make electronic trading unnecessarily expensive and difficult for many suppliers.

As a fully managed service, those outsourcing to WesupplyTM are free from the burden and risks associated with technical issues, maintenance costs and the need to keep abreast of advancing technology. OneTime enables suppliers and their customers to share a common view of the full purchase order to invoice lifecycle. Through increased visibility it helps to improve product availability, invoice-matching rates and reduce excess inventory to improve supply chain performance and flexibility.

Berry Gardens, a soft fruit supply cooperative of circa 60 UK growers supplying major supermarkets, has just made the switch to Wesupply. The company needed to improve management of supermarkets’ requirements for Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) giving detailed information about shipment timings and the contents of hundreds of pallets each day. Wesupply replaced Berry Gardens’ old EDI system which was expensive and not able to cope with the changes that its customers demanded.

“EDI is completely critical to Berry Gardens’ success and the ramifications of information not being provided to or received from customers with speed and accuracy would be threatening to our business.” said James Judge, Head of IT, Berry Gardens. “By using Wesupply’s platform which is built to the highest industry standards we know that transactions are always on time, secure and compliant. We have also saved money on the cost of managing orders and transactions.”

When EDI fails, orders, shipments and payments get delayed and at worst rejected impacting supplier profitability and cash flow. In pursuit of greater financial control and efficiency large supermarkets require their suppliers to provide more accurate and timely information about the processing of orders which unless managed effectively can increase suppliers’ costs.

Leading European washed and ready to eat salad company Vitacress Group has consolidated electronic trading onto the OneTime platform, providing a common and intelligent interface between the group’s customers and different ERP systems.

Produce World had outgrown its existing EDI capabilities and wished to consolidate electronic trading across most of the companies within the group – Produce World Solanum Ltd, Produce World IFP Ltd, Produce World RBO Ltd, Produce World Rustler Ltd and Produce World Marshalls Ltd. By moving all electronic trading to the Wesupply platform it has reduced overheads for local support and achieved a lower total cost of ownership.

There are other examples of fresh produce suppliers who have moved to the Wesupply platform, including a leading supplier of vegetables and salads to UK supermarkets, who has consolidated EDI onto OneTime to reduce overheads. Its previous EDI solution proved costly and inflexible with a very slow process for on-boarding new customers. It is to use OneTime for the real-time exchange of critical business documents with eight customers including Sainsbury’s, Budgens, Morrisons and Iceland.

Another fresh produce customer, which imports and supplies fresh fruit for retail, has moved to Wesupply for an EDI service that enables them to trade with four major supermarket chains, while also providing supply chain services for a number of other suppliers. Its incumbent EDI provider could not distinguish between orders from these individual suppliers and the company’s direct orders. Taking an outsourced approach has minimised the need for internal knowledge and increased flexibility to meet changing market demands.

“Fresh produce is one of the fastest moving and most demanding food supply environments and suppliers are under constant pressure to ensure their product is processed, supplied and paid for within hours,” said Andy Watts, Sales Director at Wesupply. “While EDI is not a new requirement for these businesses it is evolving rapidly with increasing pressure to provide additional information to customers, making it increasingly business critical.”

Watts continued, “Fresh produce providers can gain real advantage by removing their EDI headaches and passing them to Wesupply, who offer a more sophisticated and superior infrastructure, application and service than many clients could provide themselves. With Wesupply trade is simplified and the pain and complexities of EDI are removed”.

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