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eCommerce platform & integration

Art of the Possible: Evolving Foodstuffs eXchange Platform

The Art of the Possible: Evolving Foodstuffs’ eXchange platform



Portals EDI Services Custom Software Development Integration Business Innovation Retail

Four years on from the implementation of their new Supplier eXchange platform, Foodstuffs’ ongoing partnership with Sandfield means they’re continuing to realise evolution. 

In 2018, Foodstuffs selected Sandfield as their partner to transition the business from their existing Supplier eXchange platform, a system that handles more than 73 million transactions annually, interfacing with over 3000 suppliers to process invoices and PO’s for both Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island. With the existing technology due to be retired in a matter of months, Foodstuffs was looking to move to a more flexible and scalable solution that would serve them long into the future.

The initial focus was on rebuilding the platform within a timely manner, whilst ensuring the transition didn’t negatively affect their suppliers, customers or business generally.

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"It became a challenge… how we find a replacement solution and ensure that same connectivity, that same process wasn't interrupted."

Chris Monkton Business Process Owner - Purchasing, Foodstuffs North Island

The success of the handover was, from Monkton’s perspective, ‘unprecedented.’ The eXchange went live with no impact on suppliers. This meant supermarkets and distribution centres continued to send orders and receive messages and Advanced Shipping Notifications  from their suppliers and product flowed as expected, and Supplier Invoices continued to flow and be paid on time.

Crossfire, the integration engine behind the eXchange, effortlessly handled tens of thousands of messages with no downtime.

But uptime was only ever one part of the brief. Foodstuffs was looking for a partnership and platform that left room to unlock and adapt to new use cases in the future. And this is where Sandfield’ capabilities across custom development and integration continues to deliver.

With Sandfield, Foodstuffs entertained the art of the possible: imagining new use cases for automation and integration that would support their evolving business.

This included avenues that would speed up business processes and improve the end user experience. Functionality that wasn’t possible on their previous system was simply waiting to be unlocked.

With a stable, promising platform now on hand, it was time to turn the key. 

Updated shipping information and notifications

Since the update, Foodstuffs has been able to leverage new document types to deploy functionality to “one step” receipt multiple pallet inbound orders at warehouses and stores done away with manually keying in information with every pallet received. Where suppliers nowsuppliers are able tWith packing details now included packing details in the messages sent through eXchange, warehouses and stores no longer need to count and key in quantities, instead simply scanning the pallet’s unique identifier.

More information-rich notifications from freight forwarders is also increasing efficiency for Foodstuffs. Within the eXchange platform, they now receive updates on the location and status of inbound overseas purchase orders. This provides Foodstuffs with immediate information on the details of their containers within the supply chain, providing better insight into arrival times and allowing them to adjust and allocate stock based on live updates.

The eXchange also now allows for increased visibility over which suppliers are using sustainable packaging solutions. With information on hand in the future, Foodstuffs will increasingly be  is able to make sure packaging is recycled and reused appropriately through the correct channels. 

Statement reconciliation, credit control and two-way invoicing

Within the Foodstuffs ecosystem, all stores are individually owned. Though the benefit of stores with a local presence is clear, it also means that each store orders and is invoiced individually. Instead of being overwhelmed with statements listing 1000+ invoices, suppliers are able to upload a statement and have it reconciled. This gives stores a more transparent view of which invoices remain outstanding, improving supplier-store relationships too.

Sandfield also streamlined processes for claims and credits within the eXchange, providing customers with the ability to accept or reject credit note requests in the portal with data seamlessly integrated with Foodstuffs’ SAP system. This seemingly small update is reducing the reliance on back and forth pdf files and moving business processes toward a centralised digital solution.

Another way in which suppliers are benefiting from streamlined accounting processes within Foodstuffs’ eXchange is through the introduction of two-way invoicing. No longer are there restrictions on the flow of data, or the need to exit the platform for this functionality. 

Flexible messaging standards

At the heart of any integration platform are the messages which are sent through it. 

Now, Foodstuffs’ eXchange platform supports a higher level of flexibility in the data that’s exchanged, meaning new attributes are able to be added down the line through additional metadata fields.

For example, the eXchange now supports ordering products by gram, whereas the previous order limit was 1kg minimum. Given the scale of Foodstuffs stores and the communities in which they serve, having more granular control allows for smarter, more context-appropriate buying decisions.

The increased flexibility in eXchange’s messaging standards continues to evolve on the future-proofing of the platform, opening the door to more cases where Foodstuffs can continue to entertain the art of the possible.

"Sandfield [has] the same values as Foodstuffs in terms of listening to customers, and a real willingness to understand what our challenges were and provide some solutions."

Chris Monkton Business Process Owner - Purchasing, Foodstuffs North Island

The possibility in future-proofed features

Through a suite of new features and functionalities, built upon the foundation of the eXchange platform built in 2019, Foodstuffs continues to improve their business processes. Whether it be reducing manual handling through further embracing automation or improving supplier relationships through clarity of messages and information, the integration platform at the centre continues to grow and evolve with their business.

By partnering with Sandfield, Foodstuffs can continue to entertain the art of the possible when it comes to custom development and integration. From conception and build through to evolution — integration is at the core of these innovations. 

When it comes to data interchange — no matter the standard or format — Crossfire has been able to provide high-performance integration and support that is helping Foodstuffs get an edge.