Linking Large Buyers with Small Suppliers

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2002-05-13

Supply chain integration service provider SPS Commerce Inc. on Monday introduced a host of enhancements to its platform that connects suppliers to their retail and distributor partners.

The enhancements are in three modules, including enablement, catalogs and transactions. SPS Commerce, of St. Paul, Minn., helps large organizations like Sears, Roebuck & Co. and W.W. Granger Inc. integrate their small and mid-sized suppliers electronically.

"We make our money by getting the most adoption from suppliers and not disrupting the relationship with buyers," said Jim Frome, executive vice president and chief strategy officer. "Sears, Granger, they all had an EDI [electronic data interchange] player when we walked in the door. Its our enablement piece that makes us stand out. We understand the psychology piece of this."

On the supplier enablement front, SPS introduced four portal templates, called portlets, tailored to help integrate suppliers in various stages of e-business with buyers.

The first template extends integration for either catalog or transaction data to new groups of suppliers. For example, when Sears acquires a new company, as it announced Monday with Lands End, this template will help new suppliers get onboard with Sears supplier program.

The second template extends integration for either catalog or transaction data to an additional order management process. The next template adds additional document sets across a group of suppliers that are already integrated to the retailer or distributor. The final template is for ad-hoc supplier enablement.

SPS Catalog Services has been upgraded to support two new capabilities. The service now provides native support of item data unique to both hard and soft product lines—clothing vs. garden equipment, for example. Previously, SPS catalog only supported soft product lines.

Pricing management is also upgraded to provide more features for supporting retailers promotions, which means unique price field data can now be managed for a single retailer by custom groupings to support regional, seasonal and promotional pricing.

SPS Transaction Service has likewise been enhanced in two areas. To minimize the amount of data input necessary to process advanced ship notices, a new suite of tools has been added, called the Accessory Library. Five accessories are currently available for case pack/auto fill, carrier integration, transaction templates, transaction aggregation and transaction tracking.

SPS also improved the validation capabilities of its File Integration software, to provide near real-time feedback regarding the success or errors of submitted transactions.

Rocket Fuel