Notosgalleries Sofia Ring Mall

The creation of the first notosgalleries department store in Sofia, Bulgaria, entailed a set of major challenges for the Group, as well as a strictly defined schedule, targeting the completion of all running projects no later than November 2014, in order to welcome new customers at Sofia Ring Mall.

The company considered the establishment of an innovative technological platform, aiming for the rapid and efficient electronic interconnection with its suppliers and the exploitation of Electronic Data Interchange benefits.

The creation of the first notosgalleries department store in Sofia, Bulgaria, entailed a set of major challenges for the Group, as well as a strictly defined schedule, targeting the completion of all running projects no later than November 2014, in order to welcome new customers at Sofia Ring Mall.

One of these challenges, was the preparation of the new store’s numerous suppliers (in terms of functions, processes and information systems), in order to successfully meet the stake of rapid file exchange ( regarding invoices, orders, price lists and other commercial files), in a way that would ensure effective transactions, fast and reliable service and increased process-visibility. This need was soon set at the top of the priority list, as notosgalleries at Sofia Ring Mall would welcome a large number of trading partners and suppliers, located not only in Greece but in more than 5 European Countries.

In May 2014, as an initiative ran by Notos Group’s Commercial and IT Department, the company considered the establishment of an innovative technological platform, aiming for the rapid and efficient electronic interconnection with its suppliers and the exploitation of Electronic Data Interchange benefits.

Interconnection Scenarios

In order to select the best-fit solution, Notos Com examined various connectivity options, which were assessed by a number of important KPIs such as speed of integration, data quality, solution sustainability, ability to support various types of files, time to market ( or speed of supplier onboarding), solution cost, onboarding cost for the suppliers, ease of use, mutual benefits and so on.

Among the discussed solutions were the following: Classical EDI message exchange options, PDF file exchange and translation to structured EDI files and finally a Self-Service EDI file portal, to guide suppliers through the preparation and exchange of EDI files.
The scoreboard below illustrates the least and most appropriate solution according to the specific objectives of the examined project. (0=weak, 5= strong).

 

  Time to Market Sustainability Scalability Different File Types Win-Win Solution Cost Supplier’s Cost  
Υποστηριζόμενων Αρχείων TOTAL SCORE (/20)
Classic EDI Interconnection 2 4 3 5 3 3 2 12
Excel Files 3 2 4 5 1 4 0 11
PDF to EDI 3 3 4 5 4 3 2 14
Self Service Portal 4 4 4 5 4 2 0 19

The decision to apply EDI connectivity was rather expected, given the increased diffusion of EDI practices in both Greece and in Europe (especially in the retail sector), but also the group’s experience in applying the solution to a set of trade relations in the domestic market. However, time to market or else the speed of supplier onboarding process was critical in this project, given the tight deadline and the goal to achieve fast interconnection with every collaborating supplier with whom the new department store would regularly exchange a large number of documents.

« Our new Retail Store in Bulgaria, presents significant challenges for our Group, to which we answer with operational innovation and value-adding technology. The aim of our collaboration with Retail@Link, is to create a solid foundation in our interconnection with our suppliers and to ensure high speed & maximum quality in our data-sharing interfaces, thus streamline costs and effort.

Nikos Gavalakis,

Commercial Director Notosgalleries

 

In search for a rapidly scalable EDI solution, the company collaborated with Retail@Link, as a result of the latter’s focused experience in the interconnection of the retail sector with its suppliers with safe and innovative Software as a Service solutions.

In July 2014, the two collaborating companies agreed to the creation of a focused EDI e-Portal, which would be dedicated in managing and supporting the direct interconnection between notosgalleries department store and 70 suppliers, before the beginning of operations in November.

The aim of this ambitious project was both the electronic and secure file sharing & the 100% automation of data-entry processes, directly into the department store’s ERP system, at no cost for the suppliers and with advanced data quality for the retailer. This portal would engage suppliers through an innovative Self Service platform, which was intended to boost onboarding speed, regardless of the diversity of the supplier’s IT & back-end system existing setup.

The successful delivery of the project was based on both the operational flexibility of the Self-Service EDI Portal and a thorough implementation plan, organized by the two collaborating companies. More specifically the project was based on a comprehensive methodology which is described in the following two pillars, aiming to successfully onboard suppliers until October 2014.

Supplier Onboarding Plan:

Overall, the project had planned the onboarding of 70 suppliers who would directly start business with the store. For this purpose, the onboarding plan was divided in the following four steps:

  • Onboarding Process Preparation : At the initial steps of the project, the company held a segmentation of the total list of suppliers, aiming to prioritize onboarding effort, based on key-criteria such as the volume and complexity of transactions/per supplier, the frequency of deliveries, the country of origin etc. In addition, comprehensive support and training material was created, in order to support the suppliers’ awareness & onboarding process and guide them through the delivery of the first “test” files in the Self-Service EDI Portal.
  • Supplier Awareness-Campaign & Support in Enrollment: Upon the completion of the Preparation step, Notos Group undertook the creation of awareness across the supplier network and the communication of the objectives of their e-interconnection to the new department store in Sofia, the benefits as well as the available enrollment options. Additionally, a number of scenarios were created depending on the anticipated IT & Systems maturity of the suppliers, in a common try to cover all possibilities with minimal management and effort by the suppliers and the rapid and unhindered progress of the project.
  • Test-File Upload Phase: During this phase, both companies focused on supplier-support, aiming for their introduction to the portal and their guiding through the preparation of the “Test-Files” (per file type: invoices, price lists, discount documents, orders) At this point, Retail@Link intensively undertook customer service & support, in order to answer to any occurring questions, which resulted in the fast and effective activation of the suppliers’ e-interconnection to the platform and the preparation of the test files.
  • Test Files Controls & Go Live Phase (Live Day): Τhe last step of the implementation process, involved detailed controls of the uploaded test files, in order to ensure record-completeness and infallibility, which would guarantee for the seamless operation of file-exchange processes in the “after-live” phase. Upon completion, all activated interconnections were ready to operate-live.

EDI Self-Service Portal

The EDI Self-Service Portal powered by Retail@Link, was based on the group’s targeted needs and the project’s specific objectives, aiming to reach the goal of maximum coverage to the suppliers network and their successful enrollment in the portal. Exploiting the benefits of Software as Service applications, the portal was created in order to meet the following requirements:

  • User Friendly Interface
  • Do it Yourself (DIY) process-line, based on limited and well-explained steps.
  • Multilingual interface, in order to best-serve the diverse origin of the suppliers.
  • Bi-directional Electronic Interconnections, in order to facilitate and accelerate file exchanging processes between the retailer and its collaborating suppliers.
  • Multiple EDI file-types support and flexible controls per file type.
  • Thorough and Everyday control reports between collaborating partners
  • Scalability to the 100% of collaborating suppliers, thus minimum IT requirements for the users

Guaranteed data security & data quality

The electronic interconnection project between notosgalleries at Sofia Ring Mall and all its collaborating suppliers was successfully completed in October 2014. The challenge of direct supplier onboarding was won, while the advantages of the newly set e-collaboration process are numerous and still increasing. The major benefits for each party, as well as for the collaboration overall are presented below:

Notosgalleries at Sofia Ring Mall – The Benefits:

  • Time to Market: The selected solution, implementation methodology and interconnection platform, made the onboarding of all 70 suppliers possible, which meant that electronic data sharing was working as expected from the first day of operation. All interconnections were established in less than 1 month, while the whole project was completed in just 3 months.
  • Operational Savings: More than 2000 files have been exchanged, within the 6 first months of operation. The automation of file-exchange and data-entry processes, involves operational savings of more than 70% for the first year of use, and greater than 95% for each subsequent year for Notos Group.
  • Interoperability & Economies of Scale: Currently, 70 suppliers from six European countries have facilitated file-exchange processes with the department store in Bulgaria, serving their customer’s need for direct delivery, high data quality and direct data registration directly into the ERP System, regardless of their specific IT set-up. As a result time and effort savings are significant, while they continue to expand as the volume of exchanged-files increases, thus leading to substantial economies of scale. The Return on Investment in Electronic Interconnections is calculated to no more than 5 months, which is indicative of the project’s success in delivering the expected acceleration & saving outcomes.
  • Enhanced Data Quality and Accelerated Quality Controls: The EDI Self Service Portal also supports significant time & effort savings to day-level and file-level quality controls, which are now running automatically and provide thorough feedback to collaborating partners. More specifically the Portal detects errors in the uploaded files following their submission and notifies the supplier in order to correct the missing data /or errors on the spot. As a result, most of the controls are being processed directly, without delays or intervening time between the control and the feedback, while the retailer is saving significant time from regular & manual quality controls and communications with the suppliers. Overall the quality of the exchanged is of high standards while the time invested to manual quality controls by the retailer has been counted to maximum 6 hours/month.
  • Portal Support of Multiple Files: Notosgalleries department stores at Sofia Ring Mall, successfully receive 4 different types of files. Amongst the most significant facilitation provided by the Self-Service EDI Portal, was the ability to exchange suppliers’ pricing lists throughout the year, as well as discount files which adds upon the perceived value in the collaboration, since it accelerates commercial relationships and improves Service Levels for the consumer.
  • A single-Point-of-Access: The Portal supports two-way electronic communication between notosgalleries department store and the suppliers. This ability presents additional opportunities such as the electronic exchange of inventory reports, orders and so on.

Suppliers: The Benefts:

  • Electronic Collaboration at no costs: The EDI Interconnection solution based on the Self-Service e-Portal, was designed in a way as to exclude activation fees or ongoing costs for the suppliers, aiming to enhance scalability and reduce resistance to the process, while providing increased understanding of mutual benefits in the collaboration.
  • Interoperability: The Portal facilitated onboarding processes, since every interconnection could be established regardless of the “maturity” of IT infrastructure, the type of ERP /Back-End systems or the ability of each supplier to support the process with an IT partner or department. This was undoubtedly one of the major success factors, since it accelerated the enrollment process for both the retailer and the suppliers.
  • Quality Control Acceleration: As mentioned above, quality-controls are automated to a significant extend, while providing useful feedback to the users regarding the completeness and correctness of the files uploaded on the EDI portal. Consequently, quality control processes were accelerated both in the initial “test-file” phase and in the production phase. The produced quality reports reduce both the time and the effort for the supplier and the retailer, while also reducing dispute management & communications between the two collaborating partners, as the platform allows for instant response to any detected error.

Project assessment and future goals

Notosgalleries at Sofia Ring Mall, launched its operations in November 2014. Since day-1, file exchange processes between the retailer and the suppliers were held electronically, while there is a plan for further diffusion to each collaborating supplier and any new commercial relationship. Currently, the company is a best-practice example of a best practice in the field of EDI interconnections, constantly surpassing their records in terms of accelerated and lean operations, as well as improved collaboration levels.

The process automation, gives notosgalleries the ability to import information to the ERP system and operate with item-data easily. The stock control, the usage of item information in the system and the ability to make price changes for promotion and discount activities, contributes to the optimization of the cost and time for the company.  All these benefits are related to having the items from the new collections merchandized at each corner as soon as possible, which is of a high importance for the store, for the suppliers and the end-customers.

Finally the optimization of the time & effort consumption of the suppliers in preparing the documents for their retailer is a strong advantage, as the time is a priceless unit. Overall receiving and sending goods process is now a lot faster and cheaper.

The future goal, is to further expand the use of the Self Service EDI Portal, in order to leverage speed, interoperability and security benefits and better exploit the ability for bidirectional communication with its trading partners.