November 2000 | Commentary | Supply Chain Technology

Leveraging the Power of XML for Supply Chain Integration

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Using the Internet to automate the supply chain process is a growing worldwide trend. While many players from diverse backgrounds have entered the field, that does not mean they all have the right stuff to make it in this market. These players—whether providers or users—have to keep in mind the need for new and robust technology, the cost of ownership, their readiness to integrate with new technology, and their ability to maintain it once up and running.

Inbound Logistics recently met with one of these new web-based supply chain players. Although ecVision is a start-up technology provider, its management is rich in experience. For instance, ecVision President Thomas A. Dorosewicz has a combination of IT and data capture knowledge that he has been able to apply to creating solutions for retailers and their supply chains.

Unlike some broad-based providers, "ecVision is focused on the retail supply chain marketplace," Dorosewicz says. The company will continue in the retail space for the time necessary before any expansion. And, while ecVision does not mean to be all things to all people, it works hard "not to exclude people who are not EDI compliant," he says.

ecVision Acts as Enabler

Remember, only about 20 percent of global retail suppliers are EDI compliant. The central relationship is between buyer and supplier, with ecVision acting as the enabler in the supply chain community. Through XML information exchange, however, ecVision provides relationships to buying agents and banks, as well as to government agencies and logistics providers.

ecVision's merchandising market customers include Gap Inc., Liz Claiborne, JC Penny Company Inc., The Limited Inc., and Mast.

Leveraging XML Technology

ecVision has a firm hand on XML technology, which it applies to converting any document, including EDI documents.

The company's core products are:

XpressCommerce Platform. This product, the core base of ecVision applications, offers the means by which exchanges can be made between suppliers and buyers within an Internet-based infrastructure. It uses XML and Java-based software, and is available as a Java-based application server and as a turnkey e-commerce service.

XpressCommerce iEDI makes it possible to convert any document, including EDI documents, into applications that are web-enabled. Using this technology reduces the need to manually input data. And, as we all know, manual data can be error-ridden and inaccurate, which can lead to chargebacks that increase costs.

XpressCommerce iEDI gives users the ability to prepare, view, and validate their business documents such as packing lists, invoices, and purchase orders offline. This saves connection time and minimizes interruptions caused by batch mode communications.

Additional features of this application include:

  • Route mappings that direct e-documents to their owners.
  • Scan and pack label printing.
  • Single-click installation.
  • Simple translation to a local language.
  • Built-in document database.
  • 128-bit encryption for security.
  • Non-repudiation support.
  • Document status checking.

The company offers three versions of XpressCommerce iEDI:

1.iEDI Workstation, a stand-alone, browser-based, online application that allows the processing of XML documents over a network.

2.iEDI LAN, which gives users the ability to do multi-user XML processing over a network.

3.iEDI Internet, which, in addition to providing standard XML processing, allows server-to-server communication with other ASP partners.

"Many organizations require their business partners to utilize EDI technology and standards for electronic communication of common business documents," says ecVision CEO Thomas Ng. "Using our iEDI solution, retailers are able to join forces with global trading partners to initiate collaborative planning and engage in accurate data exchange that ultimately impacts bottom-line profitability."

"The beauty of the product is that it provides an affordable EDI compliance tool and opens the door for retailers and their suppliers to communicate more effectively across the supply chain," adds Thomas Dorosewicz.

For more detailed information on ecVision's products, visit its web site at www.ecvision.com.

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