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TV Home-Shopping Retailer Benefits From EDI Managed Service

As U.K.-based television home shopping company experienced explosive growth, it needed to consolidate all electronic data interchange operations onto one platform and integrate with its back office.

Founded in 1986, London-based JML has grown into a household name, one of the United Kingdom's favorite brands and a world leader in retail screen promotions and TV home shopping over the last two decades. With an annual turnover of £100m ($127m) and products available in more than 70 countries, JML is a global market leader in consumer products, and one with ambitious plans for further rapid growth.

With more than 20 years’ worth of experience in supplying the retail sector, JML had a myriad of EDI solutions, using both web portals and on-premise solutions to trade electronically with its customers. While this set-up enabled JML to meet its customers’ EDI requirements, some of the solutions were unstable, while others were outdated versions that were unsupported, exposing the company to risk. When a new EDI requirement involved invoicing in euros, something that was not possible with the company’s existing solutions, JML decided to look for a new provider.

“Our unique business model, which combines focused multichannel sales with integrated marketing, media, e-commerce and distribution, has transformed a small family-run enterprise into an international household brand,” says Wayne Crick, systems development manager at JML. “Our previous EDI set-up had evolved over many years, and due to the age of some of the solutions, it was not without its problems. We recognized that as we continued to grow we needed a more reliable and scalable solution that would enable us to consolidate all EDI onto one platform and integrate with our back office system.”

Competitors Vetted

JML ultimately opted to contract with EDI provider TrueCommerce, in part because of a productive and hassle-free experience with the network through its trading relationship with a customer. JML management was impressed with the solution and service. Following some research into other providers, JML made the decision to consolidate all EDI on the TrueCommerce network.

“Moving all of our EDI requirements to TrueCommerce felt like a natural progression, due to the positive experience we’d had previously,” Crick says. “They connected to all of our customers, which did not appear to be the case with some of the other providers we researched, and could handle all the necessary file formats.

“The only additional requirement we had was that we needed to be able to integrate with both our current ERP system, Sage, and our new ERP system, Dynamics 365,” says Crick.

JML is now exchanging orders, invoices, ASNs, remittances and debits with 10 of its key customers, including Asda, Argos and Boots, and TrueCommerce is in the process of on-boarding a further 10 customers.

The transition to the new platform progressed quite smoothly, Crick says. That was a welcome surprise since the expectation had been for a painful process. As it happened, TrueCommerce’s implementation and onboarding team looked after the majority of the work, which made the switch easy for JML users.

Completely Reliable

The benefits have been quite pleasing to JML management as well. Outsourcing EDI has provided the retailer with a fully automated end-to-end solution for the electronic exchange of documents with its key customers that has been completely reliable.

In fact, Crick calls TrueCommerce’s infrastructure and trading partner platform “first-class.” Together with its managed service, he says, the solution assures JML users that system issues and errors will not affect operations.

Worries over things going wrong have dissipated, but the EDI provider’s team is available to help if needed. “We receive a consistently high level of support, as opposed to logging a ticket and hoping for the best as was the case previously,” says Caroline Youssefi, systems functional consultant at JML.

TrueCommerce’s managed service team monitors the platform to ensure that message validation errors do not affect JML and its customers. As a consequence, the company no longer receives penalties for the late processing of orders, which has led to improved customer relations.

“We also benefit from quicker payments,” says Youssefi. “Previously, there were delays if there were any issues with our invoices, such as incorrect information or even at a basic level the format of the files. The solution now validates that invoices are correct before they are sent to our customers, which has resulted in fewer invoice queries and quicker payments.”

She says there has been a corresponding boost in efficiency and productivity since the staff does not have to spend time resolving issues; rather, it can instead focus on their core roles.

The simplicity of the solution’s user interface has made EDI processing much quicker and easier for the team, Crick says. In the past, it might take as much as an hour to send a batch of invoices. That task is now completed in a matter of minutes.

JML is on a growth spurt, and highly likely to receive additional EDI requests as new business rolls in. Fortunately for JML users, the solution is fully scalable. New trading partners can be added onto the network quickly and easily. The relationship calls for the TrueCommerce team to manage the onboarding process, ensuring all customer deadlines are met, without distracting JML’s IT department from other projects.

Crick says his company is keen to maximize the use of EDI to further streamline its supply chain, increase efficiency and remove paper-based processes entirely. There are plans to reach out to customers who have not requested that they trade electronically to see if they are EDI enabled.

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