UK department store Debenhams has teamed up with Kewill Electronic Commerce to enable its small suppliers to trade online.
Debenhams has been using electronic data interchange (EDI) technology to trade with suppliers since 1994, but using EDI requires hefty investment - too high a price for many small suppliers.
Debenhams is to use Kewill's Xtra Trade application in a Web based EDI environment to pick up the orders in EDI format and then convert them to HTML, making them available on the Web.
The store aims to roll out Xtra Trade to 400 of its small to medium sized suppliers over the next 12 to 18 months, replacing traditional fax and paper methods.
"Traditional EDI is far too expensive and complex," said David Cullis managing director of Kewill Electronic Commerce. "Xtra Trade requires no onsite training as it is a simple browser based application."
Initially suppliers will be able to create order acknowledgement forms and invoices to indicate receipt and fulfilment via the site. By the end of next year Debenhams will begin the second phase of the pilot, allowing suppliers to access a range of trading information, including supplier manual, despatch notification, packing details and sales data.
By tapping into sales information suppliers will be able to synchronise product sales and consumer response, helping the supplier to integrate the information into their back end and front end systems, explained Cullis.
Kewill signed a similar deal with Sainsbury's last November as the supermarket wanted to trade electronically with its 1,000 or so small suppliers to eliminate the 75,000 paper invoices it received each month. see Newswire 19 November 1998
Other department stores Bentalls, Allders and Selfridges are also in the process of deploying Xtra Trade. Suppliers will be able to trade with all three using the same system and pay just once. A subscription to Xtra Trade costs suppliers between £12 and £15 per month.
Tesco has been piloting a Web based ordering service for small suppliers, in conjunction with GE Information Systems, for two years.
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