Retailers are leading the way in shifting legacy mainframe data onto Web-based systems in order to cut time and costs in the supply chain.
Tesco this week announced it was testing a new service with GE Information Systems to develop an extranet to enable its suppliers to check stock levels on promotion goods via a Web browser.
"Traditional EDI is very much one-way. The extranet system will be much more interactive, supporting a dialog between retailer and supplier, and you can tailor the front-end for each supplier," said Joe Galloway, Tesco divisional director.
Traditional leaders in the field for electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, retailers have started to use Internet protocols as the transmission method for live sales data to their suppliers, both large and small.
By giving suppliers instant access to core systems, they can significantly increase the speed and efficiency of re-supply. Retailers claim web-based systems are much easier to install and use for suppliers, as well as being customisable.
For the Tesco trial, a daily download to a dedicated GE server of the relevant information will able suppliers to access data very quickly either via their existing connection to GE's Tradanet EDI network or via the Internet.
Eventually suppliers will be able to instantly check the availability of any stock all the way down to every individual store by making a routing request for data via the GE Server and on to Tesco's systems. The extranet will also provide news, directory and point of sale data.
Safeway began a project last year to link suppliers to its stock database held on its central systems via the Internet. This is to enable suppliers to have more warning of Safeway's re-supply needs and further automate order processing.
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