Maclaren is a manufacturer known for introducing 50 years ago lightweight, easy-to-use “umbrella” baby strollers made with aviation-grade aluminum. It’s continuing to try new things today, including a more flexible means of managing its electronic orders from all sizes of customers.
Maclaren sells to retailers ranging from large corporations like Target Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. to smaller regional store chains and individual “mom-and-pop” stores. While the Targets and Amazons prefer to place most if not all of their orders via electronic data interchange, or EDI, many of the smaller merchants aren’t set up to exchange EDI documents and prefer to order via Maclaren’s e-commerce site, MaclarenBaby.com, which also takes orders from consumers.
In early 2015, Maclaren deployed NetSuite Inc.’s SuiteCommerce software suite, which includes Maclaren’s e-commerce platform and its enterprise resource planning, or ERP, business software applications for managing inventory, customer orders and financial records. As Maclaren receives e-commerce orders from customers across eight countries, it automatically updates data across the SuiteCommerce ERP applications.
But it can be difficult to monitor the flow of EDI orders, checking for transmission problems and ensuring enough inventory is on hand to fulfill the orders. Following the SuiteCommerce deployment, Maclaren worked with B2BGateway to also integrate its EDI orders with the SuiteCommerce ERP system, relieving the manufacturer of manually entering EDI order data into its ERP applications.
This summer, Maclaren took things up another notch by deploying B2BGateways’ EDI Connect App, a mobile app that lets Maclaren executives check EDI orders from anywhere, ensuring EDI documents are transmitting properly and that orders are fulfilled. EDI documents include customer purchase orders and Maclaren’s invoices and ship notices. Maclaren’s EDI customers also include retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, John Lewis and Saks.
“We have an EDI team and they use the app to work with EDI transactions coming and going,” says James Ramsey, global head of technology for Maclaren, a unit of United Kingdom-based holding company Dory Ventures.
“All of our larger customers prefer to work through EDI so they don’t have to use our B2B e-commerce site and everything can be done through EDI with those customers,” he says. “That’s why we’re working with B2BGateway. They’ve been a great partner in getting EDI set up with all of these big accounts, which takes a lot of the load off our account executives and sales team for everything that comes in and goes back out again.”
Ramsey says considerable volume goes through EDI at Maclaren, and that that having the integration with SuiteCommerce and the mobile app make it far easier to keep it running smoothly. “The misconception with EDI is people think once it is put in place it just runs and everything is good in the world. But it never gets done, there’s always some issue that comes up,” he says.
Louisa Gooding, director of sales and strategic relationships at B2BGateway, says B2BGateway is continuing to add more of Maclaren’s trading partners into its
EDI system. “We’re in the process of adding 40 more online trading partner relationships between now and December.”
Gooding described the B2BGateway EDI Connect App as primarily a reporting app. Ramsey, she says, “needs it because he wants to have a quick place to see what’s going on.”
Ramsey says he has been able to use the app to catch up on the status of trading partners while walking into the office or to get complete overviews of a day’s EDI transactions while watching his son’s soccer games.
B2BGateway launched the app last year on iOS platforms and added Android platforms earlier this year.
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Phil Burgert is a freelance writer based in Pittsburg, Kan.Favorite