iTradeNetwork Interviewed by Fruchthandel Magazine
PLEASANTON, CA November 14, 2012
COLLABORATION INCREASES EFFICIENCY IN THE FRESH SUPPLY CHAIN
itradenetwork is a well known partner for grocery retailers and food suppliers in the US. Now the time is right to grow into europe says John Abkes, Vice President and Florian Strecker, Director European Sales. in an interview with the german Fruchthandel Magazin.
Fruchthandelmagazin: John, first of all can you introduce itradenetwork: What is it and what is the offering ? Please explain your business modell to german fruit trade.
John Abkes: iTradeNetwork (iTN) is the leading provider of on-demand Software as a Service (SaaS) supply chain solutions for the global food industry. Founded in 1999, ITN got started in fresh fruits and vegetables (produce) and quickly progressed into meat, floral, and transportation. Our experience in fresh commodities enabled us to easily expand to other commodities including hard goods and grocery items. Our internet based hosted platform includes 50+ supply chain, customer relationship management, and analytic modules that come together in a tightly integrated and highly collaborative end to end supply chain solution for all trading partners. Our 6200+ customers include retailers, wholesalers, distributors, operators, brokers, freight carriers, and manufacturers / suppliers of every commodity.
Fruchthandelmagazin: It is said that there is a big difference in the mentality between the US and Europe when it comes to collaboration. Probably the US retailers and suppliers are ahead in this area.
Florian Strecker: You are touching a real challenging topic here. A recent study by McKinsey and ECR Europe with the title "Collaboration today and tomorrow" had this topic in the center of the study and compared US and Europe on their willingness to collaborate. The reasons for a lack of collaboration were discussed as well as potential benefits in collaboration. True supply chain collaboration is not about using technology to take advantage of a trading partner. It's more about driving value into the supply chain for all partners. This includes exchanging information between all trading partners in a real time environment and connecting the underlying data, documents, systems, and business processes that support the communications. Most companies we work with, regardless of geographic location, are working to increase collaboration between trading partners based on this definition.
Fruchthandelmagazin: A very close collaboration between trading partners is sometimes seen critical especially in germany by the antirtrust agency. Do you see any problem here?
Florian Strecker: No. While the idea of a SaaS hosted system means that data is now managed by a 3rd party, the ITN system only allows users who are authorized by another user to access their data. Our architecture and security assures this level of data integrity and is compliant with all regulations in the countries we operate.
Fruchthandelmagazin: In which areas does collaboration take place?
John Abkes: ITN's 50+ collaborative supply chain solutions can be broken into 8 separate categories
- Data Management Services including international standards and data pool services, providing the foundation of synchronized end to end data for any supply chain initiative.
- Demand Planning including inventory management, forecasting and production planning
- Sourcing including demand and production aggregation, RFQ's and price sheets/order guides. Demand planning & sourcing allows buyers and sellers to collaboratively plan for future supply and demand.
- Procurement including multiple processes for the creation of accurate order, maximising the efficiencies or the order creation process including DC's and stores .
- Order Management from the time the order is created to received including product traceability, allowing .for any order changes that could impact margins or services levels to be responded to proactively
- Logistics including inbound load building, optimizing, tendering, managing, scheduling and tracking, linking global procurement and transportation into one supply chain system to maximize efficiencies and manage costs.
- Accounting including invoice management and discrepancy management and reconciliation, achieving 95%+ invoice match rates at the line item level and provides a way to resolve discrepancies on-line.
- Analytics including transforming end to end supply chain data into actionable information, transforming end to end supply chain data into actionable information.
Fruchthandelmagazin: What are the advantages for the retailer and the supplier ?
John Abkes: One of the primary advantages of the ITN system is our end to end approach to any supply chain enabling our system to drive value into the supply chain opposed to taking advantage of any specific segment. By offering both integrated solutions (that complement, extend the life of, and increase the value received from existing systems) and on-line web based portal solutions (enabling companies of all sizes with varying degrees of system and resource capabilities) we allow all companies regardless of their role in the supply chain to take full advantage of a fully optimized, highly collaborative, and tightly integrated supply chain network. Over the years we have documented the value created for customers that chose ITN as their supply chain partner and have created return on investment calculators that calculate the opportunity based on their specific situation and metrics. Our partners become best in class in all 8 areas and we have seen up to 12% reduction in the annual cost of goods bought and sold and up to a 5% increase in revenues.
Fruchthandelmagazin: What do they need to do to particapte in the collaborative supply chain?
John Abkes: Process can be as easy as logging into the Internet to access a portal created specifically for them to a project that includes custom integration with back office systems and processes.
Fruchthandelmagazin: Why do you think this model will be successful?
John Abkes: Our model will be successful out of the following reasons:
- 100% of our services were developed from the ground up with input from customers which keeps our system focused on real supply chain issues with the most efficient and costly solutions possible.
- There is no one size fits all answer, the system can be customized to meet the unique needs of each customer and can grow over time so customer's only invest in and use what they need.
- Our end to end approach drives value into the supply chain for all trading partners enabling most customers to pay for the system out of operating expenses opposed to capital appropriations.
To find out what we can do for your business, contact your nearest office by clicking here.