ASA's efforts to create an industry-wide, standard product database got a big boost on May 30th, when the F.W. Webb Company hosted a large group of manufacturers representatives in for a day-long presentation. Twenty-one manufacturers reps, whose presence represented more than 150 different manufacturing companies, spent the day learning about how F.W. Webb will employ the new industry database (once it's available) in their operations.

Webb, the Northeast's largest distributor operating 65 locations throughout the region, is leading the way of the industry by making plans to adopt electronic commerce in a big way. Says Jack Hester, the company's president, "I wanted to host these manufacturers reps to give them an opportunity to understand, first-hand, what EDI can do to help streamline our transactions and make us all more profitable."

The day's agenda centered around the yet-to-be-finalized industry database, and was designed to explain to the reps in attendance how it can be used in a variety of ways. F.W. Webb execs demonstrated how the company's customer web order-entry system would function, using the database at its core. They also explained how, by using the database in tandem with the other catalog information available on Source ASA, that a professional-looking submittal could be created in a fraction of the time that it customarily takes using information from separate catalogs and different websites.

Likewise, the database forms the foundation upon which any successful Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) attempts can be made. Using the standard numbering database (currently being developed by ASA), together with the already available standard EDI document maps (including purchase orders, acknowledgements, advance shipping notices, etc.), F.W. Webb Company expects that it will rise above the competition and create a much more streamlined, error-free relationship with its suppliers. It also expects its suppliers to realize the same benefits.