Sweet dreams of EDI

Distribution
Sweet dreams of EDI

David’s Cookies has found sweet success through its association with Home Shopping Network (HSN). “We’re not a typical retail company,” explains Oliver Tress, the cookie company’s sales and marketing director, “but HSN knows that. They like the quality of our product so they’re willing to work with us.”

The company’s principal business is selling B2B to retail in-store bakeries, not packaged items direct to the end customer.

“We have a considerable supply chain initiative in making sure we communicate electronically with our vendors,” says Steve Ayer, HSN’s vice president, IT. “All incoming order data arrives in an automated format. We handle our communications with a B2B system to ensure product comes to us at the right time for our traditional fulfillment. We do a lot of monitoring of our drop ship vendors via our shipping authorization request system to make sure they meet our service levels.”

HSN set out to help David’s Cookies establish an electronic data interchange (EDI) relationship that would be compatible with its requirements.

“They said we could have our own EDI communications or go to a third party,” says Tress. “If we wanted to go to a third party, they recommended Mercury Commerce, and we ended up going with them.”

Sales are handled on-air with a David’s spokesperson standing with an HSN host. Since the freshness of the cookies is a paramount issue, David’s handles fulfillment at its Fairfield, N.J., facility. The baker is required to ship product within 48 hours, although there is leeway given for weekends when it’s not possible to ship.

Tress explains the fulfillment process. “On the morning after the show, we go onto the EDI system and pull up the orders. We then print all packing slips. The shipments go in our boxes and tins, but we must include HSN packing slips. We then print UPS labels. Packing slips HSN provides actually do have labels, but for UPS purposes, we need to add barcodes, and other details.

“We match labels with the packing slips, and then they go into our production area,” Tress continues. “When orders are shipped, we upload tracking information back into Mercury Commerce’s web site. HSN pays David’s based on tracking and shipment information.”

Because of the nature of the business, David’s perishable goods travel different distances at different rates of speed in order to arrive fresh. The Mercury Commerce software massages files by zip code, then provides exact shipping speeds for each item to be shipped.

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November, 2003

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