ASA moves ahead on e-commerce
The second installment of the American Supply Association's Electronic Commerce Blue Ribbon Summit held July 22 in Oak Brook, Ill., unveiled some solutions to the list of e-commerce obstacles discussed at the first meeting in May.
To address the problem of standardization, Larry Mohr of F.W. Webb and others developed a preliminary set of standard electronic data interchange maps. These maps, called ASA EDIExpress, are a subset of EDIPro. To simplify the many EDI processes, the first phase of mapping standardization targeted four processes: standard business processes, vendor-managed inventory, catalog pricing and remittance electronic funds transfer.
ASA EDIExpress is compatible with EDIPro and covers man-datory elements of electronic data interchange implementation, including invoices, catalogs, purchase orders, product activity data and advance ship notices.
Mohr's group recommended a review be conducted in six months to a year to revise processes if needed.
Kevin Hoyle of Shannon Systems discussed data synchronization. Shannon Systems designed a software product, LynxDS, to automate and assist in the synchronization of a manufacturer's product data with a distributor's product data. Wholesaler users would be able to electronically match up their data with any of their vendors' data through pop-up windows and screens and step-by-step instructions.
LynxDS will be released at the ASA convention in San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 15-18.
ASA took the first step in building trading partnerships by announcing that it chose Management Information Systems Group, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., as the provider of EDI services to ASA members.
"MISG clearly has unique experience in providing EDI services to association communities, and we are confident our members will benefit from the Tech Center-MISG partnership," said Kevin Price, director of ASA's Center for Advancing Technology.
The ASA ANSINET is the network that will allow trading partners to send and receive ASA EDIExpress documents through MISG's server.
Also announced was the Internet launch of Source ASA+ at the San Antonio convention, a new direction for the PHCP product database. The database Web site, www.sourceasa.com, will be accessible to current subscribers of the CD-ROM catalog.
The product now has order-entry capability, which will cut transaction costs by at least 60%, Price said.
The second half of the Summit consisted of panel discussions on building trading partner communities, distributing the standard EDI maps, assembling the product database, and synchronizing manufacturer and distributor information as well as implementation.
"We invite everyone to participate in this effort," said Moe Desmarais of ASA. "Every association, every buying group, every distributor, every representative - anyone who has an interest in becoming electronically proficient and joining us in this effort to reach a maximum audience and bring this industry to where it should be."
Desmarais added that a market plan is being developed to notify ASA members and the entire industry of these e-commerce initiatives.
A third summit is scheduled for Sept. 16 in San Antonio.