Stop for a minute and think about how your favorite holiday gift from last month made it to the store shelf. And I’m not just talking about the trip from the warehouse to the store. I’m talking about the journey from raw material all the way to a finished product sitting on your local store’s shelf.
It’s likely an amazing journey that involved more suppliers, partners and distributors than you could ever imagine. And it’s a journey that was likely automated across a multitude of different entities and organizations by a concept, standard and approach that’s been around for decades called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
Let’s take your favorite holiday gift from last month, say a brand new sweater. There were likely multiple entities involved in taking that from raw materials to a finished product. It might start with the fiber producer, then a textile manufacturer, moving then to an apparel manufacturer, then an international cargo entity, domestic distributor, regional distribution center for the retailer and then finally a local retailer.
Think about all the transactions and messages that need to move back and forth between each of these entities or trading partners as the sweater progresses from a container of fabric to a finished product on the retailer’s shelf. For each movement between trading partners, a plethora of EDI transactions execute, from shipping manifests and purchase orders to routing instructions and delivery acknowledgements just to name a few.
Without platforms that support EDI transactions – and the value-added networks that act as the intermediary between trading partners – this plethora of transactions would be managed over email, phone, fax and other manual methods. So as you enjoy your new sweater that you got last month, don’t forget all the trading partners, transactions and automation it took to bring it to your local store’s shelf.
IBM provides a global value added network (VAN) that helps makes this possible. By connecting over 300,000 trading entities around the globe, the IBM VAN helps to ensure your holiday gifts are on the shelf when you are ready to purchase them. The Global VAN is just on of the ways IBM is providing the world with Smarter Commerce solutions.