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Meeting Wal-Mart's mandates: Morgan Foods connects with the retailer's AS2 and UCCnet efforts with e-commerce software.

FOUNDED IN 1899, MORGAN FOODS HAS GROWN from a small canning company supplying food for soldiers during wartime to one of the three major manufacturers of condensed soup in the U.S. That kind of growth also led it to become a supplier to Wal-Mart ... with the opportunities and challenges that go with dealing with the world's largest retailer.

In June 2003, Morgan Foods received a mandate from Wal-Mart: adopt Applicability Statement 2 (AS2), a Wal-Mart-created connectivity standard for Internet Electronic Data Interchange (EDI-INT). As part of fan initiative to streamline communications with its suppliers, Wal-Mart required them by Sept. 30, 2003 to adopt AS2 to standardize trading and facilitate communications.

Immediately following that mandate, Morgan Foods was faced with another demand from Wal-Mart. The retail giant, Morgan Foods' third largest customer, also required suppliers to provide product information to the UCCnet GlobalRegistry, the UCC foundation's standard for data exchange among trading partners. That deadline was Jan. 31, 2004.

"We have 18 items with Wal-Mart: several kinds of canned beans and sloppy joe sauce, and we're hoping to do some soups, our main product line," says Roger Heaverin, information systems manager at Morgan Foods.

"We have other partners, some we do more business with than Wal-Mart, but nobody else has required this level of electronic data interchange," he continues. "But it's only a matter of time, really. You could say we did this all for Wal-Mart. But the same technology will be put to use with the others."

Heaverin said Morgan Foods looked at several options. The company had an EDI system that dated back to Unisys. It also had enterprise software from Harbinger, a company that ultimately was acquired by Inovis. Inovis hot only took over support of that system, it started to do other work for Morgan Foods.

"Some alternatives [with other vendors] could have worked, but probably would have required rewriting some code," the IS manager says. "We have been working directly with Inovis for 10 years, and we trusted them to create a solution that worked."

Morgan Foods has employed Inovis' TrustedLink EDI transformation software and value-added network (VAN) services since the company first began facilitating electronic commerce with its retail trading partners in 1994. So in July 2003, Morgan Foods turned again to Inovis. Implementing Inovis' BizManager for UCCnet Services, Morgan Foods began synchronizing product information with Wal-Mart through the UCCnet GlobalRegistry. Morgan Foods also meets retailer AS2 connectivity mandates with BizManager, Inovis' Internet EDI solution for exchanging purchase orders, invoices ,and other business documents with trading partners over the Internet.

"We create a special pallet ID unique to Wal-Mart and send it to their distribution centers," says Heaverin. "We used to work through a VAN, but with this change we deal directly with Wal-Mart, which was one of Wal-Mart's goals."

Partnering with Inovis, Morgan Foods complied with Wal-Mart's AS2 requirement two weeks before the deadline. It also met the UCCnet mandate early. The flexibility and ease of integration of Inovis' solutions enabled Morgan Foods to support its existing technology infrastructure, coordinating easily with its SAP warehouse management module.

While many of Wal-Mart's suppliers are still struggling to comply with these guidelines well into 2004, according to Heaverin, Morgan Foods was conducting critical business transactions with its major retailer in just a few hours.

"We are working with another customer now who also wants AS2, so this is already being amortized," says Heaverin. "I've got to believe within two or three years all of our top 20 accounts will want some type of similar Internet data exchange. It will be a huge cost savings for them when they do.

"We are already able to implement Internet EDI and retail item synchronization with new customers in less than 24 hours," he continues. "Since Inovis is always current on the latest standards certifications and versions, we never have to worry about outgrowing our business commerce infrastructure even as we continue to scale our trading partner network."

For more information, call Inovis ai 877-446-6847 or see
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Title Annotation:Enterprise Software; Applicability Statement 2
Comment:Meeting Wal-Mart's mandates: Morgan Foods connects with the retailer's AS2 and UCCnet efforts with e-commerce software.(Enterprise Software)(Applicability Statement 2)
Publication:Food Processing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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