PITTSBURGH -- Management Science Associates Inc. (MSA), a provider of data analytics for vendors and suppliers, including CPG companies, has launched a service it considers the next generation in reducing distribution voids and accelerating speed-to-shelf of new items in convenience stores and other retail outlets.
After spending much of 2011 in pilot testing, eOrder Clearinghouse is being rolled out as a third-party platform to help suppliers and distributors facilitate automatic fulfillment of retailer commitments such as planograms, stocking of products and management of promotional programs, the company said.
"The Clearinghouse is a reflection of MSA's commitment to help advance the industry through innovative applications of data and technology that drive process efficiencies across channel partners," said Suzy Silliman, managing director of the information management solutions division of MSA. "MSA has built world-class infrastructure over the past 20 years for transmitting secure information throughout the channel and near real-time data standardization and alignments. Those two pieces are critical to support emergent, important eOrder activity."
With eOrder Clearinghouse, retail execution activities associated with pre-books, new item authorizations, core item in-stock conditions and trade -program compliance become more efficient and help engender a stronger working relationship between the manufacturer supplier and distributor with their retailer customer. The platform, for instance, allows a sales rep to immediately place an approved order for a core or new item and eliminates the need for a suggested order leave-behind.
"Our ASM Mars Dedicated Convenience Team began our first test of e Ordering more than two years ago. The process is easy to implement. Our retail sales merchandisers place orders for participating distributor in their hand held units. The orders are then transmitted to the distributor through the MSA eOrder Clearinghouse. The results, particularly regarding speed to shelf for new items, have been very positive," said Bernie Lee, client team leader--Mars Convenience Channel for Advantage Sales & Marketing.
The collaborative platform ensures that nightly, consolidated orders that are transmitted to participating distributors are aligned to that distributor's own "master data" in a format that seamlessly integrates into its order-entry system, said the company. The Clearinghouse, ideally, can eliminate the chaos associated with e-mail pre-books and other nonstandard ordering practices that require hours of manual resource time.
"MSA's solution is 'hands-off' for me. Orders are consolidated across vendors and are transmitted nightly with our customer and SKU number in our required file format," said Dan Thompson, director of category management and purchasing with Harbor Wholesale Foods. "This results in timelier fulfillment of orders and less rejected orders due to human error."
Another application of the eOrder Clearinghouse is its Trade Program Compliance Module. Many retailers leave money on the table solely because they cannot manage each and every program at the store-level, the company said. Having the option to "make me compliant" based on MSA-managed Distributor shipments and the eOrder Clearinghouse, a retailer can guarantee they will earn what they intend. This creates a win for all channel partners, it said.