Green Supply

Green Supply Slashes EDI Costs 90 Percent by Moving EDI from a VAN to RSSBus

Helping retailers succeed online and in brick & mortar stores, Green Supply is a wholesale distributor of 45000+ hunting, fishing, camping, outdoor, and sporting goods from a network of 300 top manufacturers.

Through solid customer service, good pricing and deep inventory beyond the standard big box products, their focus is supplying retailers, ecommerce businesses and dropshippers the products to grow their businesses. Green Supply uses a combination of advanced technology and EDI to provide their customers added value, by supporting:

  • Dropshipping for dealers
  • "Just Arrived" inventory
  • Order status notifications
  • Wish Lists
  • And more

But EDI wasn't always a strategic asset for Green Supply.

The Background: Starting with a Value Added Network

In 2011, Green Supply had their first experience with EDI when they received a request from a major customer, SCHEELS All Sports, one of the nation's largest sporting goods retailers. Like many Green Supply customers at that time, SCHEELS was faxing purchase orders (POs), but they wanted to standardize exchanges with Green Supply and requested a move to EDI.

Being entirely new to EDI at the time, Green Supply needed a platform and service-provider to minimize the technical setup.

Green Supply started off with SPS Commerce, a value added network (VAN) that handles EDI processing through a web portal. Green Supply's team and their partners (such as SCHEELS) would load documents into the VAN portal, manually adding information into a web form. The VAN would then transmit documents between Green Supply and their partners.

For 7 years, Green Supply used the SPS Commerce VAN, with data entry into web forms. Though it was manual, the process worked well enough at the start. But as Green Supply grew and added more customers who required EDI, the structural drawbacks of processing each document through a service-provider became too much to ignore.

The Challenge: High Costs & Manual Processes with a VAN

In early 2018, Green Supply found themselves processing more than 20000 EDI messages a month, manually sending and receiving messages through a web form on the SPS Commerce VAN EDI. The high-touch, manual process not only took significant time and energy to manage, each one of those 20000 messages cost a transaction fee.

"In the beginning it made sense, but we were getting to where the bill was about $100,000 a year through SPS Commerce," said David Kurz, National Accounts Manager (and former IT Director) for Green Supply.

Three factors were driving costs sky high.

  • Volume: Green Supply was sending more documents as they added EDI partners, and the VAN charges a per-document fee
  • Limits: The VAN adds a fee for exceeding transaction volume limits
  • Eroding Profit Margins: Sales orders require several document exchanges, at a cost of 30 cents/document, eating up profit margins for smaller orders

"We broke down what we were spending per document," said Luke Patchett, Technical Lead for EDI at Green Supply. “In some cases, based on profit margins, we were actually losing money to process through EDI."

Then, there were technical difficulties.

As Green Supply moved more of their transactions to EDI, they started processing large-scale orders and found they were sending so many SKUs, the EDI transactions weren't getting properly processed. They had to start splitting files into pieces, slowing down the whole process and creating a backlog of EDI transactions.

The pileup of unprocessed transactions directly impacted how much inventory Green Supply would stock at any given time.

"We were in a situation with some customers," Patchett said, “We were in low stock quantities because we couldn't keep up with EDI."

The SPS Commerce VAN platform was a good fit for Green Supply when they began with EDI, as they had minimal EDI volume, and customers had varying requirements.

But due to the high costs and technical challenges of processing high transaction volumes, Green Supply had simply outgrown VANs. They needed a more robust, cost-effective EDI solution that could scale with them.

"I just see it as a natural evolution. Go to a VAN, they hold your hand, then, you move on to running your own stuff."

— David Kurz, National Accounts Manager, Green Supply.

The Solution: An Automated, Easy-to-Use EDI Solution

In 2018, Green Supply started searching for a software solution and tested out a whole list of options that met several key criteria:

  • Had been tested & proven for years
  • Could get them quickly up and running
  • Worked seamlessly with the FTP, CSV-based system they used for non-EDI customers
  • Significantly reduced EDI transaction costs
  • And came with exceptional support

After conducting thorough testing on a whole list of options, one solution stood out from the rest. Green Supply ultimately selected RSSBus Connect and worked with a systems integrator to quickly get RSSBus Connect fully operational for their EDI processing.

The Results: Efficiency in the Supply Chain

Green Supply now has a functional EDI system built to handle their full suite of EDI needs.

They now use RSSBus Connect to translate and map documents from all the major EDI standards their partners use, and they can receive documents via a variety of messaging protocols, such as AS2. RSSBus Connect also integrates with their FTP, CSV-based system, simplifying Green Supply's processing on the backend.

"Now, we translate everything into a format that our system understands. People can send any kind of document to us, X12, plain text files, CSVs" Patchett said.

Just as important, the support has more than met Green Supply's needs.

"RSSBus seemed to be a breath of fresh air, when mistakes were made (during initial setup), they were quickly addressed," Patchett said “The customer is always right at RSSBus."

Green Supply has enjoyed rapid implementation, completing two RSSBus Connect integrations in a month each with Amazon and Amazon Dropship, two of their biggest sources of EDI transactions. This is warp speed compared with the VAN.

"We've finished two major EDI transaction platforms in 1 month each, as compared with the 3-4 months it took to set up similar projects through SPS Commerce," Patchett said.

Today, RSSBus Connect handles 90-95 percent of EDI traffic at any given time, with the VAN used for only low-EDI-volume customers. In addition to saving time on a manual process with seamless integration, RSSBus Connect directly cuts Green Supply's EDI costs.

"We're going to start saving about $90,000 annually," Kurz said.

That's a savings of over 90 percent on EDI.