There is no doubt that the big retailers have played an major role in driving forward developments in supply chain.
For example, a new report suggests that the UK’s grocery retailers – Tesco, Sainsbury and so on, have saved some 760m euros (£650m) a year in costs by using EDI instead of manual, paper-based processes for their orders, invoices and despatch advices.
The EDI Cost Savings Report prepared by GS1 UK in conjunction with Cranfield School of Management, looked at the top 15 grocery retailers that account for some 90 per cent of the market.
Some 69 per cent of the grocery supplier community uses EDI to some degree – a sharp contrast to the 27 per cent adoption rate outside the grocery sector.
The benefits are obvious – faster transactions, delivery, invoicing and payment as well as improved visibility of goods within the supply chain.
It has also managed to speed up stock replenishment cycles, enhance data accuracy, improve operational efficiencies, lower costs and reduce paper consumption.
Nevertheless, the report takes the sector to task for not going far enough. Failure to adopt EDI for despatch advices is costing some £200m a year, it reckons. Apparently, only 38 per cent of the orders made by UK’s grocery retailers use despatch advices.
There is something curiously comforting about the fact that the grocery sector still has some way to go.
But, the implication is clearly that other sectors are missing out in a big way. GS1 highlights apparel, DIY, healthcare and public administration as prime candidates for some EDI magic. Perhaps it is time to ditch the manual systems.