EDI & API Solutions For Revenue Growth in the Supply Chain

    To weather the current global economic disruption, many organizations have made strategic pivots to augment and enhance their revenue streams. Pivoting to new revenue channels, such as e-commerce for retail, has empowered organizations to achieve impressive revenue and customer growth, even as traditional revenue channels are experiencing a slowdown.

    New Revenue Streams Create Long-Term Value

    Many organizations have discovered that recent pivots towards e-commerce can grow into sustainable, long-term revenue streams. For example, Kellogg’s expansion into e-commerce has helped to grow its B2B business. The President of Kellogg North America, Chris Hood, shared his optimism for the brand’s substantial growth opportunities in e-commerce at an annual event for Kellogg Co. investors and analysts in late 2018:

    As part of our redesign within our North American structure, [Kellogg is] making an investment in e-commerce capability to really strengthen not only our ability to call on and serve omnichannel players but also pure-play as well as B2B. In B2B, in particular, we think there’s a huge opportunity for growth. We already have a pretty significant business there today, but there’s a big opportunity for us to continue to accelerate.

    Global-sized companies are not alone, however. A small festival fashion company has also leveraged new marketing channels to bolster revenue. A longstanding curator of all-over print clothing for attendees of music festivals, the company quickly pivoted into protective facemasks in the wake of the recent worldwide health crisis. Company leadership believes this shift will continue to be a reliable new revenue stream even after music festivals have picked back up. Their founder has expressed confidence that masks “aren't only medical in nature; they will be purchased by festival-goers to protect their faces from dirt, dust, wind, and sun while staying fashionable at the same time.” In this way, their investment in new products has real potential even after the short-term motive for the pivot has passed. 

    The feasibility and sustainability of these shifts depend on robust, accurate, and rapid data alignment, often on an enormous scale. This is where sophisticated integration (such as EDI and API solutions) can make the difference. 

    After sitting down with Peter Edlund and Mike Neadeau of DiCentral for a webinar on the subject, it's clear that they are adamant about EDI and API technologies’ critical role in expanding supply chain revenue streams for continued growth.

    The Role of EDI & API in Pivoting Revenue Streams

    EDI and API are both data interfacing and data exchange processes. While each industry varies in the degree to which it utilizes one versus the other, both are relevant for retailers, suppliers, and brands that hope to expand into new revenue streams. This is especially true in e-commerce, where major players like Amazon Vendor Central are EDI-driven, whereas other services such as Amazon Seller Central are API-driven, as you can see in this comparison of the platforms.

    Rich API and EDI connectivity are required for fast and accurate data alignment between these platforms and the back-end systems at a company. To optimize fulfillment processes with logistics partners or with Amazon, organizations must have a compatible, well-integrated, and reliable method of exchanging information about orders, inventory, SKUs, shipping status, and other necessary information.

    These interfacing technologies are central not only to B2C but also B2B sales channels in the supply chain. Data and analysis in the 2020 B2B Ecommerce Market Report showed that EDI accounted for 78.4%—or an incredible $7 trillion—of all electronic B2B sales over the previous year.

    Supplier-Retailer Data Integration Can Be Daunting

    The speed at which data integration must occur across dozens of locations and hundreds, or even thousands, of items can sometimes be overwhelming.

    Consider the following hypothetical scenario: 

    An influential celebrity with a branded product line is experiencing a period of increased attention and high demand. Perhaps the products are connected to a time-relevant topic with the public’s attention. A franchise retailer now begins an initiative to leverage the celebrity’s products in their stores. The personality’s products may be pre-aligned with certain manufacturers. 

    What’s required next will be a compatible order fulfillment process with those manufacturers. How does that process scale when a manufacturer aligns with an entity or person of influence that sparks a need to connect with 15-20 retailers in a matter of months?

    The answer lies in AI-powered EDI & API integrations, which streamline that process and make it almost infinitely scalable through sophisticated technological automation.

    Freedom to Choose, Integration to Grow

    So, does the solution boil down to either growing through a retailer or technology? The answer: Both. You have options.

    The coupling of EDI and API integration solutions allows organizations to select multiple models and mediums. A manufacturer could leverage a retailer like Target, a major e-commerce platform like Shopify or Amazon Seller Central, or even private brand their own e-commerce micro-site under a franchise umbrella. 

    No matter the approach, the players involved—be it retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, or e-commerce platforms—must be well-integrated and on the same page to make the relationship efficient, error-free, and profitable on all sides.  The good news is that smooth data integration is not only possible but easier to leverage than retailers, manufacturers, and brands may think.

    If you’re interested in hearing more about adapting to economic disruptions from Peter Edlund and Mike Nadeau, be sure to watch the complete webinar recording ‘Pivot to New Retail Revenue Streams.’ Get useful recommendations and see how API & EDI solutions can help your companies leverage new revenue streams for growth across various realistic scenarios.