Welcome back to our series about third-party logistics management via electronic messaging/EDI! Last week we explained that outsourcing distribution to 3PLs is popular with companies that are expanding into new markets or want to focus on their core strengths and let the logistics experts manage the physical storage and distribution of their goods.
We also discussed that in 3PL automation projects, interactions can be generalized into two master file exchanges and five transaction scenarios. This week, we delve deeper into the master file exchanges.
Master file exchanges enable synchronization of critical data between the 3PL’s warehouse management system (WMS) and their customer’s ERP system.
Product Catalog (Sent to the 3PL by the 3PL customer)
The third-party logistics service provider and its WMS system need information about the products they’ll be warehousing and distributing, including part numbers, descriptions, special handling information, barcodes, and other elements that allow the 3PL to plan capacity for, store, and ship products safely. Because most businesses have an ongoing process of adding new products and updating or discontinuing others, the 3PL and their customer must consistently exchange information to stay updated.
The X12 standard for this document is the 832 Price/Sales Catalog or the 888 Item Maintenance. (Author’s note: The 832 is used predominantly in 3PL scenarios, but there’s a strong argument that the 888 is the better fit.)
Inventory Status (Sent by the 3PL to the 3PL customer)
Soon after the initial product receipts and shipments occur between the customer and 3PL, the inevitable question is, “Is our inventory accurate and in sync?” Periodic transmission of an inventory status document is a best practice for most 3PLs – although that sometimes makes it difficult to reconcile discrepancies, whether they be timing related or more serious shrinkage or theft issues. The document for this interaction is the 846 Inventory Inquiry/Advice.
Please come back next time for the final blog in our series about third-party logistics management via electronic message/EDI – we’ll be discussing the five 3PL transaction scenarios.
To read more about integrating EDI messaging for logistics, download our data sheet.
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