Sherpani, the leader in women’s-specific bags in the outdoor industry, was founded in 2003 with a straightforward idea: to provide female consumers with a variety of stylish bags designed specifically for the outdoor lifestyle. The Boulder, Colorado based firm produces a wide variety of bags, everything from purses and satchels to child-carriers and bike bags, all of which are produced with an eye toward fresh style and capable functionality. Sherpani was among the first to cater to women (a demographic largely ignored in the outdoor products industry) and helped to introduce outdoor lifestyle bags that came in colors other than black, gray or brown – an innovation that other brands would quickly copy.
Quickly eclipsing its humble beginnings, Sherpani has leveraged its unique brand identity and quality products into a global brand. Sherpani bags can be found in more than 1000 retail stores across the United States and are also sold through distributors in Europe and Asia. A key factor in the company’s success has been the relationships formed with large national retail chains – the majority of which require some form of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) compliance.
It became obvious early on that being able to comply with the EDI requirements of major retailers would be a vital step in targeting and maintaining these key accounts. However, the technical barriers to compliance can be considerable for small and midsize firms. “Obviously, as a small company we don’t have the EDI expertise in-house or the bandwidth necessary to support [an EDI system],” noted Chad Kline, Director of eCommerce with Sherpani. With these hurdles in mind, Sherpani began searching for an EDI service provider whom they could partner with in order to achieve EDI compliance. Their search brought them to DataTrans Solutions and their WebEDI platform. By outsourcing the technical aspects of an EDI implementation to DataTrans, the Sherpani team has been able to focus on keeping their customers happy, not on dealing with complicated compliance issues.
Sherpani uses DataTrans’ WebEDI platform to receive and process EDI documents on a daily basis. The web-based system provides users with a familiar interface to receive orders and create response documents. In addition to providing a high level of reliability, WebEDI’s cloud-based infrastructure allowed Sherpani to avoid the costs normally associated with in-house EDI systems. The level of support received from DataTrans has also been a key factor in their relationship. “I’ve been very pleased with the service,” said Kline. “Every analyst has been very responsive and very good at setup, response time, and addressing any issues if they arose.”
As Sherpani grew, so did the number of their customers who they traded EDI documents with. Kline began to look into options that would allow Sherpani to more closely integrate its existingsystems with the EDI process being handled by DataTrans. Specifically, he was interested in what could be done to speed up the order fulfillment process. DataTrans was able to integrate the Purchase Orders sent to Sherpani via EDI directly into their existing order management systems. Whenever a new PO comes in from a trading partner that document can be viewed and responded to in WebEDI as needed, but is also automatically brought directly into their order management system. By integrating WebEDI with their internal systems, Sherpani reduces the amount of time its team spends rekeying and double checking data. This frees up company resources for other projects. Having a copy of each PO brought into their order management system streamlines the order fulfillment process and allows the Sherpani team to more easily stay on track with customer demand. “It’s not nearly as time intensive [as manually entering orders]. It’s been very helpful in helping us manage our time,” said Kline.
System integration was also the solution when one national department store informed Sherpani they would be required to provide daily updates on their available inventory levels. If done manually, this would require a Sherpani employee to monitor and transmit inventory levels each day – quite a time sink. Instead, Sherpani chose to automate the process though DataTrans. Sherpani’s ERP system is able to compile a complete inventory report each day. This file is then sent to DataTrans’ systems where it is automatically converted to the required EDI format and then sent to the trading partner. This process allows Sherpani to maintain its relationship with the trading partner while minimizing the amount of time spent interacting with data.
As Sherpani continues to grow and move into new markets, EDI remains an important link in their supply chain roadmap. “EDI is and will continue to play a major role in our company strategy,” said Kline. “We recognize that EDI compliance will make our company more efficient with more customers.” We definitely have a strategy to focus on larger retail accounts that we know we will need to be EDI compliant with.”
For more information about Sherpani visit: www.sherpani.com